By Kevin Glew
St. Marys, Ont. – Two former Montreal Expos, the 2011 Baseball America Executive of the Year and Canada’s gold medal-winning Senior National Team will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 23.
Rusty Staub, Doug Melvin, Rheal Cormier and the 2011 Pan Am games champion national team are set to be honoured in a ceremony that will begin at 11 a.m. on the Hall’s ceremonial grounds at 386 Church Street in St. Marys, Ont.
The induction ceremony will be part of a three-day celebration (details below) for the ball shrine that will kick off with a celebrity homerun derby featuring Team Canada Slo-pitch players and Team Canada Fastball players to be followed by the Celebrity slo-pitch game on Thursday, June 21.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s festivities,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations. “Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, sponsors and devoted staff, we’re offering something for everyone during the three days of activities. And I can’t think of four inductees more deserving of permanent recognition in our museum.”
Born on April 1, 1944 inNew Orleans,La., Staub, the first superstar in Montreal Expos history, was dubbed “Le Grand Orange” by fans for his distinct hair colour. A three-time all-star (1969 to 1971) while with the Expos, the left-handed slugger played 518 games with the club and compiled the best on-base percentage (.402), second best slugging percentage (.497) and fourth best batting average (.295) in franchise history.
His attempts to learn the French language and his charitable work helped make him one of the most popular players in Expos history. His uniform number (10) was the first jersey retired by the club.
In all, Staub recorded 2,716 career hits (59th all-time) in his 23-year big league career and is the only player in major league history to chalk up more than 500 hits for four different teams (Houston, Montreal, Detroit, New York Mets). The burly outfielder/first baseman belted at least one home run in 23 consecutive seasons, which is third best all-time behind Ricky Henderson (25) and Ty Cobb (24).
Born on April 23, 1967 in Cape Pele, N.B., Cormier pitched for 16 big league campaigns, the third most seasons by a Canadian behind Fergie Jenkins and Matt Stairs (19 seasons) and Larry Walker (17 seasons). During tenures with St. Louis (1991 to 1994), Boston (1995, 1999-2000), Montreal (1996-1997), Philadelphia (2001 to 2006) and Cincinnati (2006-2007), the Canuck southpaw appeared in 683 games, the second most by a Canadian behind Paul Quantrill (841).
Drafted in the sixth round by the Cardinals in 1988, Cormier finished his big league career with 71 wins, 1,221 innings pitched and 760 strikeouts. His best season was in 2003, when he finished with an 8-0 record and a sparkling 1.70 ERA with the Phillies.
In his formative years, Cormier pitched for Canada’s 1985 Junior National Team and for Canada at the 1987 Pan Am Games and Intercontinental Cup. He continued to toe the rubber for his country during his professional career, suiting up for Canada at the 2006 World Baseball Classic and in the 2008 Olympics.
Born on August 8, 1952 in Chatham, Ont., Melvin is the current general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Before becoming a highly respected executive, Melvin pitched in the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees from 1972 to 1978. After deciding to hang up his spikes, he worked in a number of administrative roles, including scouting director with the Yankees (1985) and as assistant GM and director of player personnel from 1988 to1993 with the Baltimore Orioles.
He landed his first general manager’s job with the Texas Rangers and held that post for eight seasons (1994 to 2001). Following a short stint in minor league operations with the Boston Red Sox, Melvin was named executive vice president and general manager of the Brewers on September 26, 2002.
Melvin was named Baseball America Executive of the Year in 2011 after the Brewers won a franchise-record 96 games and the National League Central Division title. The Chatham, Ont., native is one of just five Canadians to serve as a big league general manager. The others are George Selkirk (Washington Senators), Murray Cook (Yankees, Expos, Cincinnati Reds), Gord Ash (Toronto Blue Jays) and Alex Anthopoulos (Toronto Blue Jays).
2011 Baseball Canada Senior National Team
Managed by Ernie Whitt, the 2011 Baseball Canada Senior National Team secured their first-ever gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games, held in Guadalajara, Mexico. This triumph followed their second consecutive bronze medal at the World Cup, held in Panama City.
Canada is now ranked sixth in the world – its highest ranking ever – by the International Baseball Federation. With a record 26 Canucks having played in the majors in 2011, Canada is also peaking at the big league level, but Whitt only had three ex-big leaguers on his Pan Am roster in Scott Richmond, Shawn Hill and Mike Johnson.
Canada opened the tournament with a 5-4 win over Puerto Rico and then lost to Cuba 9-5. After beating Venezuela 4-1, which qualified them for the medal round, the determined Canuck squad edged host Mexico 5-3 in the semi-finals, and outlasted the undefeated U.S. squad 2-1 to win gold.
Among the standout players were Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) who chalked up a win and struck out 10 over nine innings in two games and James Van Ostrand (Richmond, B.C.), who led Canada offensively with nine hits in 19 at bats.
The Senior National Team will be represented at the induction ceremony by Whitt, director Greg Hamilton, coach Tim Leiper, athletic therapist Dave Blatz, equipment manager Keith Sanford, administrator Bernie Soulliere and players Mike Johnson and Brock Kjeldgaard.
The Hall would like to acknowledge the Toronto Blue Jays, the Town of St. Marys, St. Marys Cement Company and NEW ERA for their major sponsorship and support in making the following events happen:
Thursday, June 21
Time/Location: Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Homerun derby 6:30 p.m. Game will go from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Rotary Field on the Hall of Fame grounds. 386 Church Street.
Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Whitt, Steve Rogers, Miss Canada International Melanie Williamson and Babe Ruth’s granddaughter will be among the celebrities participating. St. Mary Lincolns players, St. Marys’ CAO Kevin McLlwain and Team Canada fastball player and St. Marys resident Dale Levy will also be showcasing their skills. Burgers, hot dogs and beer will be available for purchase.
Friday, June 22
Event: London Salutes Canadian Baseball breakfast sponsored by Museum London, Lerners and London Convention Centre. Special guests are Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Whitt, Doug Melvin and Steve Rogers
Time/Location: Museum London, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., 421 Ridout Street North, London, Ont.
Cost: Tickets $50 each or table of 10 for $500. Advance registration only.
Event: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame 16th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic
Time/Location: St. Marys Golf and Country Club, 769 Queen Street East, St. Marys, Ont. Registration at 10 a.m. Tee-off at 11 a.m.
Cost: $1,250 per foursome (includes hole sponsorship and banquet). Other options include: $300 (hole sponsorship only), $250 per individual golfer (includes banquet), $60 for a banquet ticket only. Spots are still available. Doors open for banquet at 5 p.m.
Saturday, June 23
Event: Induction ceremony
Time/Location: 11:00 a.m., Hall’s ceremonial grounds at 386 Church Street, St. Marys, Ont.
Rusty Staub, Rheal Cormier, Doug Melvin and the 2011 Baseball Canada Senior National Team will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony emceed by Canadian broadcasting legend Rod Black. Critically acclaimed singer and actor Michael Burgess will sing the national anthem.
The 2011 Jack Graney Award will also be presented to W.P. Kinsella. Unfortunately, he will be unable to attend due to health issues. His good friend and baseball historian Bill Humber will accept on his behalf.
An autograph session will follow the ceremony and baseball games will be played on the site all day.
Event: Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Clinic
Time/Location: Check in begins at 1 p.m. at Rotary Field on the Hall of Fame grounds, 386 Church Street, St. Marys, Ont. Clinic will go from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $41 per player, plus HST. Pre-register at www.baseballhalloffame.ca.
Kids will receive four hours of instruction, a barbecue lunch (prior to the clinic ONLY), a Blue Jays T-shirt and hat.
Celebrities expected to be in attendance for at least part of the weekend:
2012 Inductees: Rusty Staub, Doug Melvin, Rheal Cormier and Team Canada representatives, including coach Ernie Whitt, national teams director Greg Hamilton, athletic therapist Dave Blatz, equipment manager Keith Sanford, coach Tim Leiper, administrator Bernie Soulliere and players Mike Johnson and Brock Kjeldgaard
- Past Inductees: Pat Gillick, Fergie Jenkins, Steve Rogers, Jim Fanning, Don McDougall, Ron Taylor
- Toronto Blue Jays: Alex Anthopoulos (GM) and Paul Beeston (president & CEO)
- Former Montreal Expos: Derek Aucoin, Bill Atkinson, Larry Landreth
- Other celebrities: Gord Ash, Adam Stern, Scott Thorman, John Upham, Jon Lockwood, Sean McCann, Dick Groch (the scout that signed Derek Jeter), Bruce Hood, Steve Miller (NHL official), Terry Crisp, Linda Tosetti Ruth (Babe Ruth’s granddaughter), Melanie Williamson (Miss Canada International) and Bob Elliott.