Remembering the four Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees that passed away in 2021

Rheal Cormier at his 2012 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Marys, Ont. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Four Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees passed away in 2021.

As the end of the year approaches, please take a moment to remember them.

I’ve written a short bio about each of them below.

Rheal Cormier

Cormier, a longtime big league pitcher and Cap Pele, N.B., native, passed away on March 8 at the age of 53 after battling cancer. Selected in the sixth round of the 1988 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, the crafty lefty would make 683 appearances (second-most by a Canadian pitcher) in a 16-season major league career that included stops with the Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. His best season was 2003 with the Phillies when he finished with an 8-0 win-loss record and a 1.70 ERA in 65 relief appearances. Cormier also toed the rubber for his country in multiple international competitions, including at the 1988 and 2008 Olympics and in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.

Read my full obituary about Rheal Cormier here.

Audrey Haine Daniels

Haine Daniels, who emerged from the sandlots of Winnipeg, Man., to throw multiple no-hitters in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), passed away on September 11 at the age of 94. As a 16-year-old, she cracked the roster of the St. Vital Tigerettes of the Greater Winnipeg Senior Girls Softball League and propelled them to a championship. Her talents were soon brought to the attention of scouts of the fledgling AAGPBL and she was signed after the 1943 season and assigned to the expansion Minneapolis Milleretes, where she would hurl a career-high 230 innings in her rookie season. The following campaign, she toed the rubber for the Fort Wayne Daisies and went 16-10 with a 2.46 ERA in 223 innings in 32 games. She later enjoyed tenures with the Grand Rapids Chicks, Peoria Redwings and Rockford Peaches and completed her AAGPBL career with 72 wins and a 3.48 ERA in parts of six seasons. For her efforts, she was one of 68 Canadian women who played in the AAGPBL to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

To read my full obituary about Audrey Haine Daniels, click here.

Tommy Lasorda with the Montreal Royals. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Tommy Lasorda

Born on September 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pa., Lasorda was best known as the colourful and beloved manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he spent the bulk of his professional playing career in Canada. Originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies, the fiery southpaw landed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. Starting in 1950, Lasorda pitched a record nine seasons with the Dodgers’ International League triple-A affiliate Montreal Royals. In 1951, he notched 12 victories – the first of six campaigns in which he registered at least 10 wins for the Royals – and helped the club to a league title. He was even better in 1953, when he recorded 17 wins and led the Royals to another championship. After brief major league stops with Brooklyn and Kansas City and a stint in the New York Yankees’ organization, Lasorda returned to Montreal in 1958 to win 18 games and earn the circuit’s most valuable pitcher honours. After a final season with the Royals in 1960, Lasorda retired as the all-time franchise leader in wins (107), games pitched (251) and innings pitched (1,461). The charismatic Pennsylvania native would, of course, maintain his association with the Dodgers and eventually serve 21 seasons (1976 to 1996) as field boss with the club. During his reign, Lasorda’s teams captured eight division crowns and two World Series titles. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

To full my full obituary about Tommy Lasorda, click here.

Helen Nicol Fox

Nicol Fox, who emerged from the Alberta hamlet of Ardley to become the winningest pitcher in All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) history, passed away on July 25 at the age of 101 in Phoenix, Ariz. The 5-foot-3, 120-pound right-hander was pitching for a local Army and Navy Pats softball team in Calgary in 1942 when she was spotted and signed by a scout for the AAGPBL’s Kenosha Comets. In her first season with the Comets, she appeared in 47 games and led the league with 31 wins, 348 innings pitched, 220 strikeouts, eight shutouts and a 1.83 ERA. For her efforts, she was named AAGPBL Pitcher of the Year. For an encore, in her sophomore campaign, she recorded a minuscule 0.93 ERA – which once again topped the circuit. In 1945, she enjoyed her second 20-win season for the Comets and pitched a career-high 357 innings. She was later dealt to the Rockford Peaches with whom she won 17, 13 and 14 games from 1948 to 1950 and helped them capture three consecutive championships. Nicol Fox retired as the AAGPBL’s all-time leader in wins (163), innings pitched (2,382), appearances (313) and strikeouts (1,076). She was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.  Two years later, she was one of 68 Canadian women who played in the AAGPGL to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

To read my full obituary about Helen Nicol Fox, click here.

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