June 13, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will hold its 2023 induction ceremony this Saturday in St. Marys, Ont.
Hall of Fame Bio:
Born in 1935 in Winnipeg, Man., Joe Wiwchar has devoted seven decades to baseball in his home province, as a player, manager, coach, volunteer, executive and administrator. Best known for his long and successful coaching career, which spanned from 1953 to 2013, the tireless Manitoban regularly coached two or more teams in a season.
One of his most successful years was 1971 when he managed the South Central Beavers Peewee squad to a provincial title and a silver medal at the Western Canada Championship. That same year, he started a 28-year tenure as head coach of the Morden Mohawks of the Border League, a senior baseball circuit. During one stretch with the Mohawks, he piloted the club to 12 league championships in 18 years.
Along the way, he helped lead Team Manitoba to a silver medal at the 1977 Canada Summer Games as an assistant coach and he was the head coach of the provincial Bison (Juvenile) team that captured the 1977 Western Canada championship.
As an executive, Wiwchar was a member of the committee that formed the Manitoba Baseball Association in 1968. Since that time, he has served in many key capacities for the organization, including as president in 1976 and 1977.
On a national level, Wiwchar served on the Baseball Canada executive and planning committee in 1974 and 1975. In 2004, he was recognized for his more than 50 years in baseball, with Baseball Canada’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
Wiwchar has also helped on the international scene. He served as a chaperone for five Canadian kids at the World Children’s Baseball Fair in Japan in 1994 and in the following year, he worked as the head coach for four children’s teams in La Rochelle, France.
In 1998, he became the first administrative manager of the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, a position he held until 2022. Thanks to his leadership, the Hall is considered one of the finest sports museums in the country.
For his efforts, Wiwchar was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Association Honour Society in 1989 and was named a Life Member by the Western Canada Baseball Association. He was also inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 and won the Sport Manitoba Order of Sports Excellence Volunteer Service Award seven years later. In 2011, he was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and in that same year, the Town of Morden renamed a baseball field in his honour.
Wiwchar on being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame:
“When I received the call from Scott Crawford letting me know that I was being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I had to sit down. I was speechless. I was both surprised and elated. I’m still in disbelief, but I am very grateful for this honour.”
-In 2011, Wiwchar was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame alongside former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour (Carman, Man.).
-In total, Wiwchar coached the Morden Mohawks to 14 Border League titles in 28 seasons.
-Wiwchar credits his wife, Arlene, for much of his success. “The person who should be getting all the credit is my wife for putting up with me all these years,” Morden told the The Winkler Morden Voice in their March 17, 2011 edition. “She was a left fielder, so I’d hit the ball to her in centre and make her run and next time to right field and then back to centre and finally she threw her glove down and said, ‘That’s it!’ She still stayed with me.”
-In 2019, he was inducted into the Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame in the U.S. Other sports figures inducted into that shrine include Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Terry Sawchuk and Mike Ditka.