CANADIAN BASEBALL HISTORY CONFERENCE 2019

The fourth annual Canadian Baseball History Conference will be held the weekend of November 9th and 10th in London, Ontario, home of venerable Labatt Park. Join us for a day and a half of research presentations and discussion covering a wide range of topics relating to baseball’s historical development in Canada, and for a side trip to the newly expanded and renovated Museum facility at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys.

The 15 presentations packed into the busy schedule cover a wide variety of topics, focusing on diverse aspects of baseball’s history in Canada. Highlights include:

  • A special 1-hour presentation on the playing and umpiring career of Bob Emslie
  • The Sleeman Collection at the University of Guelph
  • Harry Simmons and his influence on baseball in Canada
  • The ManDak League
  • Mary “Bonnie” Baker
  • The Boston Red Stockings’ tour of Canada
  • A history of the InterCounty Baseball League

For a detailed Conference schedule, including summaries of all 15 planned presentations. http://baseballresearch.ca/london-2019/

Bob Prentice

HALL OF FAMER BOB PRENTICE

Bob Prentice was a multi-sport star in high school at Toronto’s Riverdale Collegiate. An all-star quarterback and standout hockey player, Prentice chose to focus on a baseball career. After signing with the Cleveland Indians as an 18-year-old, the Canadian infielder would hit .273 and belt 151 minor league home runs from 1948 to 1956. Unfortunately, the presence of stars Al Rosen and Bobby Avila at the major league level prevented Prentice from cracking the big league roster.

After retiring as a player, he became a part-time scout with the Detroit Tigers in 1959 and was responsible for the Tigers signing John Hiller, Mike Kilkenny and George Korince. On November 1, 1976, Prentice joined the fledging Toronto Blue Jays as their director of Canadian scouting, a post he would hold until 1990. Part of a Blue Jays scouting department that was considered the best in the business, Prentice played a role in the signings of Canadians Paul Hodgson, Rob Ducey, Denis Boucher and Nigel Wilson.

Read more HERE.

Ron Roncetti

HALL OF FAMER RON RONCETTI

Born near Rome, Italy, Ron Roncetti came to Toronto with his parents when he was eight months old. Settling with his family near Elizabeth Street in downtown Toronto, he developed a passion for baseball and starred as a center fielder for the Toronto Lizzies during the 1920s. Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Carmen Bush and Goody Rosen were among his Lizzies teammates. The fleet-footed outfielder moved on to toil with the Wellington Juniors and Eastern Athletic Club in Toronto in the 1930s, before becoming one of Toronto’s top amateur coaches.

In the late 1940s, Roncetti created and founded the Leaside Baseball Assocation. Under his leadership, Leaside became a powerhouse on the Toronto baseball scene. Starting in 1953, Roncetti led Leaside teams to four consecutive city championships at the juvenile and junior levels. Among Roncetti’s Leaside graduates were Ron Taylor, Frank Mahovlich and Pete Conacher. In 1957, Roncetti returned to the Lizzies and managed their senior team to city championships in 1958 and 1960.

Read more HERE.

Doug Melvin

HALL OF FAMER DOUG MELVIN

Doug Melvin, was born August 8, 1952, is Chatham, Ontario. The Milwaukee Brewers general manager since 2002 had a brief pitching career in the minor leagues from 1972-78 with Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees, followed by administrative jobs including baseball operations assistant with the Yankees in 1983-‘84, scouting director with the Yankees in 1985, special assistant to general manager Roland Hemond in 1987 with the Baltimore Orioles, assistant GM and director of player personnel from 1988-‘93 with the Orioles, and then landing his first general manager’s job from 1994-2001 with the Texas Rangers. Melvin was noted for signing superstar Alex Rodriquez to a ten-year, $250 million dollar contract on January 26, 2001. After a brief stint in minor league operations with the Boston Red Sox, was named executive vice president and general manager with the Brewers on September 26, 2002. He is the eighth general manager in Brewers, and is currently under contract through the 2012 season. Melvin ended 25-year playoff droughts in both Texas and Milwaukee.

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JAMES PAXTON TO BE PRESENTED WITH CANADIAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME’S TIP O’NEILL AWARD

James Paxton to be presented with Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award

St. Marys, Ont. – Ladner, B.C. native James Paxton will be presented with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2018 Tip O’Neill Award in a ceremony prior to the Toronto Blue Jays game against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on August 9.

“James Paxton had an outstanding season in 2018,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “Not only did he make history when he became the first Canadian to throw a major league no-hitter on Canadian soil, but he also struck out batters at a near-record rate over the course of the season. He’s definitely a worthy recipient of the award and we’re proud to recognize him in Toronto, in front of his Canadian fans, at the stadium where he tossed his historic no-hitter.”

Paxton is a first-time winner of this award that the Hall presents annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.

To determine the winner, the Hall takes into account a number of criteria, including each candidate’s on-the-field performance, contributions to their team, community and charitable endeavors and support in fan voting.

Paxton, who was traded by the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees on November 19, staved off strong competition from Cincinnati Reds slugger and seven-time winner Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.), current Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) to secure the honour.

Nicknamed “Big Maple” by Mariners fans, the 6-foot-4 southpaw became the first Canadian pitcher to throw a major league no-hitter on Canadian soil when he held the Blue Jays hitless on May 8 at Rogers Centre. That performance came just six days after he had set a Canadian record by striking out 16 batters on May 2 in a start against the Oakland A’s.

In all, the 30-year-old Paxton had eight starts in which he struck out at least 10 batters and went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and fanned 208 batters in 160 1/3 innings. His 208 strikeouts are the second-most by a Canadian left-hander in a major league season and he became one of only two pitchers in big league history to notch 200 strikeouts in a season in 161 or fewer innings.

Among American League pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched in 2018, Paxton finished third in strikeouts per nine innings (11.68), fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.95), seventh in WHIP (1.10) and ninth in opponents’ batting average against (.224).

On top of his strong on-the-field performance, Paxton has also been active in charitable and community endeavors in the greater Vancouver area. He has donated signed memorabilia and game tickets to various charities and has volunteered to provide pitching lessons to youth in the region.

“I am extremely honoured to have been named the Tip O’Neill Award winner for 2018. I am proud to be representing Canada in Major League Baseball and try to do so to the best of my ability,” said Paxton. “I will continue to give everything I have to be the best baseball player and person I can be. Thank you so much to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for recognizing my efforts.”

The Hall’s Tip O’Neill Award is named after Woodstock, Ont., native James “Tip” O’Neill, who was one of Major League Baseball’s first legitimate stars. With the American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1887, O’Neill set big league records in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases, while compiling a major league record .492 batting average. Walks were counted as hits in 1887, but if O’Neill’s average was calculated by today’s standards, it would be .435, the second-highest in big league history to Hugh Duffy who hit .440 in 1894.

Past winners of the James “Tip” O’Neill Award:

1984 – Terry Puhl

1985 – Dave Shipanoff

1986 – Rob Ducey

1987 – Larry Walker

1988 – Kevin Reimer

1989 – Steve Wilson

1990 – Larry Walker

1991 – Daniel Brabant

1992 – Larry Walker

1993 – Rob Butler

1994 – Larry Walker

1995 – Larry Walker

1996 – Jason Dickson

1997 – Larry Walker

1998 – Larry Walker

1999 – Jeff Zimmerman

2000 – Ryan Dempster

2001 – Corey Koskie

2001 – Larry Walker

2002 – Eric Gagné

2002 – Larry Walker

2003 – Eric Gagné

2004 – Jason Bay

2005 – Jason Bay

2006 – Justin Morneau

2007 – Russell Martin

2008 – Justin Morneau

2009 – Jason Bay

2010 – Joey Votto

2011 – Joey Votto

2011 – John Axford

2012 – Joey Votto

2013 – Joey Votto

2014 – Justin Morneau

2015 – Joey Votto

2016 – Joey Votto

2017 – Joey Votto

2018 – James Paxton

Harold "Doc" Younker

HALL OF FAMER DOC YOUNKER

Doc Younker has been a trainer in amateur and professional baseball for more than 50 years. A former U.S. army private, Younker’s first job as a trainer was with the Vancouver Capilanos in 1954. He would serve in a similar capacity with the Seattle Rainiers the following year, before returning to Vancouver to work with the Pacific Coast League Mounties in 1956. He landed his first big league gig as a relief trainer with the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and would later serve as the head trainer with the San Diego Padres from 1976 to 1985.

At the amateur level, Younker has dedicated countless hours to Canada’s national teams, tending to athletes at the Olympics, Pan-Am Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Intercontinental Cups. He has also worked for the National Baseball Institute and the University of British Columbia.

Read more HERE.

George Sleeman

HALL OF FAMER GEORGE SLEEMAN

After being educated in Guelph and St. Davids, George Sleeman became the general manager of his father’s Silver Creek Brewery at age 18. Just six years later, he was a partner, and by 1868, the enterprising 27-year-old owned the company. Sleeman was also passionate about baseball, pitching for the Guelph Maple Leafs in 1863. In 1869, his Leafs squad captured the Canadian championship, downing teams from Ingersoll and Woodstock in a three-day competition.

Already the chief financial backer of the Leafs, Sleeman was named president of the club in 1874 and became one of the first Canadian managers to import American players. It was a strategy that worked: his club was victorious in a tournament tabbed as “the non-professional championship of the world” in Watertown, New York in 1874.

Read more HERE.

HALL OF FAMER RON HAYTER

Ron Hayter Ron Hayter4Ron Hayter has been a player, coach, manager, executive and organizer of Canadian and international baseball for close to 50 years. Born in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, he played in Northern Saskatchewan and British Columbia before taking charge of Baseball Alberta in 1968. The passionate sportsman revived the struggling provincial body and tripled the number of registered teams in just three years, before stepping down in 1971.

He would later serve Baseball Canada in various capacities, from developing the first Canadian rulebook to organizing the inaugural national championships. He also represented Canada with the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) for 18 years, sitting on the legal and technical commissions, and receiving the IBAF’s President’s Award in 1990.

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Jim Fanning, Charles Bronfman and Steve Rogers

HALL OF FAMER CHARLES BRONFMAN

Without Charles Bronfman’s dedication and commitment, it’s unlikely that major league baseball would be played in Canada today. The Montreal native was chairman of the board and principal owner of the Expos from the club’s inception until it was sold to a consortium in 1991. During his ownership tenure, Bronfman evolved into an influential baseball man, serving on numerous decision-making committees. In 1982, he served as an advisor to commissioner Bowie Kuhn and was instrumental in bringing that season’s All-Star game to Olympic Stadium – the first time the midsummer classic was contested outside of the United States.

Read more HERE.

Pete Ward

HALL OF FAMER PETE WARD

Son of Montreal Maroons hockey star, Jimmy Ward, Pete Ward was born in Montreal, before moving to Portland, Oregon when he was eight years old. In 1958, the Baltimore Orioles signed him and he toiled in Vancouver during his first professional season.

After five seasons in the minors, the talented Canuck made his big league debut with the Orioles on September 21, 1962. In his first at bat, he hit a two-run single against the Twins. During that off-season, Ward was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a blockbuster deal that would bring Luis Aparicio to Baltimore. In his inaugural campaign in the Windy City, he was transformed into a third baseman. In 157 games that season, he hit .295, socked 22 home runs and finished second in the American League to Carl Yastrzemski in hits. He was named The Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year for his efforts.

Read more HERE.