Barfield, Boucher, Harden, Wiwchar to be inducted into Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum
St. Marys, Ont. – Two former big league pitchers, a legendary Toronto Blue Jays outfielder and a grassroots coach and executive who has devoted seven decades to baseball have been elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Former Montreal Expos left-hander Denis Boucher (Montreal, Que.), ex-Oakland A’s right-hander Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.) and rifle-armed ex-Blue Jays right fielder Jesse Barfield will be inducted in a ceremony at the Hall of Fame grounds in St. Marys, Ont., on June 17. Longtime Manitoba baseball coach and executive Joe Wiwchar will also be inducted.
“Each of this year’s inductees has had a significant impact on the game of baseball in Canada in their own distinct way,” said Jeremy Diamond, chair of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors. “We’re proud and excited to celebrate their outstanding careers in St. Marys this June.”
The four new inductees will be honoured alongside former Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud and legendary Montreal Expos broadcaster Jacques Doucet who were elected in 2020 but have not been able to attend the ceremony.
2023 Inductee Bios
“I’m still in disbelief with the news of being voted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Being drafted by and then playing for the Blue Jays has always meant so much to me and my family. I’m truly honoured, humbled and speechless right now.”
After being selected in the ninth round of the major league draft by the Blue Jays in 1977, Jesse Barfield would spend parts of five seasons in the minors before making his major league debut on September 3, 1981.
Starting in 1982, Barfield became the club’s regular right fielder. His 18 home runs that season helped him earn Blue Jays Rookie of the Year honours.
In 1985, the right-handed hitting slugger helped lead the Blue Jays to their first American League East title when he had 27 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 22 outfield assists. This made him just the second player (Willie Mays was the first in 1955) in big league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 20 outfield assists in the same campaign. His 22 outfield assists remain a Blue Jays’ single-season record.
Barfield followed that up by setting a then-franchise-record with 40 home runs in 1986. That season, he also became the first Blue Jay to lead the American League in home runs. His performance earned him his first All-Star selection and a Silver Slugger Award. For his outstanding defence in right field, he also received his first of two consecutive Gold Glove awards.
Barfield’s throwing arm is widely recognized as one of the greatest in major league history. In his nine seasons with the Blue Jays, he topped American League outfielders in assists four times (1985 to 1987, 1989).
In total, in his parts of nine seasons with the Blue Jays, Barfield played 1,032 games and ranks in the club’s all-time top 10 in several statistical categories, including fourth in WAR (29.5), seventh in home runs (179) and ninth in total bases (1,672) and RBIs (527).
See Jesse’s full bio HERE.
“It’s an incredible honour to be elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I’m very humbled and proud to have my name amongst the best baseball players in the country.”
Born in Montreal in 1968, Denis Boucher honed his skills with the Junior National Team and at the National Baseball Institute in Vancouver prior to being signed as an amateur free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987.
After parts of four seasons in the minors, he’d make his first major league start for the Blue Jays on April 12, 1991 at SkyDome (currently Rogers Centre) and hold the Milwaukee Brewers to three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He’d make six more starts for the Blue Jays before he was dealt to Cleveland on June 27. On July 20 that season, Boucher picked up his first major league win when he allowed just one run in 7 2/3 innings to the California Angels to propel Cleveland to a 4-1 victory.
After a short tenure in Triple-A with the San Diego Padres in 1993, Boucher was dealt to his hometown Montreal Expos. Boucher’s highly anticipated first game with the Expos came on September 6, 1993 in front of more than 40,000 boisterous fans at Olympic Stadium. With Windsor, Ont., native Joe Siddall catching and Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker in right field, the contest represented the first time in modern baseball history that three Canucks have been in the starting lineup for the same team. Boucher held the Colorado Rockies to one run in six innings and the Expos prevailed 4-3. With that start, Boucher also became the first Canadian to have played for both the Blue Jays and Expos.
Boucher returned to make 10 appearances for the Expos in 1994. In total, he pitched 10 professional seasons and accumulated 87 wins, while posting a 3.99 ERA, in 263 games.
Following his playing career, Boucher joined the national team as a pitching coach in 2003. Among the tournaments he has coached for Canada at are the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, all four World Baseball Classics and the 2011 and 2015 Pan Am Games when Canada captured gold medals. He has also developed into a highly respected scout, first with the Washington Nationals from 2004 to 2009 and with the New York Yankees, from 2009 to present.
See Denis’ full bio HERE.
“When I received the news that I was being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I was at a loss for words. I am proud and honoured to have my name added to a list that includes so many great people who have had such a positive impact on baseball in Canada. I’m so grateful to all the people who helped and supported me along the way, and I’m looking forward to the induction weekend in St Marys this summer.”
Born in Victoria, B.C. in 1981, Rich Harden honed his pitching skills with the Victoria Mariners of the B.C. Premier Baseball League. Out of high school, the young right-hander was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 38th round of the 1999 MLB draft, but he declined to sign.
He re-entered the draft in 2000 and was chosen in the 17th round by the Oakland A’s and signed with the club on May 18, 2001. Harden would enjoy a breakout minor league campaign in 2002 when he went a combined 12-6 with a 2.94 ERA, while striking out 187 batters in 153 innings in 28 starts between High-A and Double-A. His efforts earned him A’s Minor League Player of the Year honours.
Harden would make his major league debut on July 21, 2003 and permit just one run on four hits in seven innings against the Kansas City Royals in a 6-1 A’s victory. From there, Harden became a mainstay in the A’s rotation for the next two seasons. After setting career-highs with 31 starts and 189 2/3 innings in 2004, he went 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA and struck out 121 batters in 128 innings in 2005.
Following two injury shortened campaigns, a rejuvenated Harden put up ace-like numbers with the A’s in 2008, going 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts before he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs on July 8. He continued his dominance with the Cubs, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts down the stretch. He completed the season with a combined 10-2 record and a 2.07 ERA with 181 strikeouts in 148 innings in 25 starts.
Harden returned to the Cubs in 2009 and fanned 171 batters in 141 innings in 26 starts prior to finishing his major league career with single seasons with the Texas Rangers (2010) and the A’s (2011).
In all, in parts of nine major league campaigns, Harden had a 59-38 record and a 3.76 ERA in 170 appearances. His 949 strikeouts and 17.9 WAR rank sixth all-time among Canadian big league pitchers.
See Rich’s full bio HERE.
“When I was 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.”
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.
Along the way, Wiwchar 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 and he would serve as president of the organization in 1976 and 1977.
On a national level, Wiwchar served on the Baseball Canada executive in 1974 and 1975. He has also helped out internationally. For example, in 1994, he served as a chaperone for five Canadian kids at the World Children’s Baseball Fair in Japan and then 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. The Town of Morden renamed a baseball field in his honour in 2011.
See Joe’s full bio HERE.
2020 Inductee Bios
“When I heard that I was going to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I was very surprised. It was so unexpected,” said Olerud. “I am very honoured to be selected.”
From 1991 to 1993, he was a key part of three consecutive division-winning squads and two World Series championship teams. In 1993, he flirted with .400 for much of the season and is still the only Blue Jays’ player to win an American League batting title.
In all, Olerud suited up over eight seasons with the Blue Jays and he ranks first all-time in franchise history in OBP, fourth in walks and sixth in batting average. His .363 batting average, .473 OBP and 33 intentional walks in 1993 remain Blue Jays’ single-season records.
In all, in his 17-year big league career, the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner finished with a .295 batting average, a .398 OBP (which ranks 70th in major league history) and 2,239 hits. Olerud finished his career with the New York Mets, his hometown Seattle Mariners for parts of five campaigns, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
For many, the soft-spoken first baseman was an inspiration. Prior to his junior college season, he suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm. He worked diligently to get back on the field and recovered to enjoy a successful collegiate and pro career. His performance and perseverance earned him Major League Baseball’s Hutch Award in 1993. This honour is handed out annually to a player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson.
See John’s full Bio HERE.
“I am deeply honoured to be admitted into the Canadian Baseball Hall Fame,” said Doucet. “Although I had won the Jack Graney Award in 2004, I could not, in all honesty, say that I was a full-fledged member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. This, along with the Medal of Honor of the National Assembly of the Province of Quebec, are the two highest honours I have received. I want to thank all the partners who I had the privilege to work with during all the years and who made this possible. I want to thank the members of the selection committee of the Hall of Fame for making this day possible.”
Born in Montreal in 1940, Jacques Doucet has been calling major league baseball games for more than four decades and many Quebec baseball fans credit him as the reason they fell in love with the sport.
Doucet served as a Montreal Expos beat reporter for La Presse from the time the franchise was awarded to the city in 1968 to 1971. He began performing play-by-play for the Expos’ French language radio broadcasts in 1972 and continued for 33 seasons. Along the way, he called virtually every meaningful game in the franchise’s history, including 2016 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Martinez’s perfect game on July 28, 1991. For many years, Doucet also broadcast major league playoff and World Series games in French.
In total, Doucet has called more than 5,500 big league games during his storied career. In 2004 Jacques won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award and has been a finalist for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2020 Ford C. Frick Award.
Doucet has also been a strong supporter of baseball at the grassroots level in Quebec. As an ambassador for Baseball Quebec, he has been an active supporter of many fundraising activities for minor baseball teams in the province. He also served as an executive with the Quebec Junior Elite Baseball League from 2004 to 2010 and was involved in the Quebec Summer Games held in Longueuil in 2014.
See Jacques’s full Bio HERE.
Two of my favourite Blue Jays of all time. I met Jesse Barfield in Texas at my Church and he is such a great gentleman! He had an arm like a cannon and was so accurate from the outfield. What a gentleman.
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