Chatham, ON – It would be a disservice to simply label Gene Dziadura as the scout who signed Canadian baseball icon and Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins.
The proud native of Chatham, a regular attendee at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony, passed away Tuesday at the age of 74.
“Gene was a strong family man and a beloved teacher who scouted for the Phillies in the summers, but he was so much more than that,” noted Ball Hall president & CEO Tom Valcke.
“We’re talking about a real-life version of the mentor in the movie ‘The Karate Kid.’ There are legendary stories of him jogging side-by-side with Fergie in the snow, catching Fergie as he threw pitch after pitch into a shrinking target made of strings that Gene designed, making Fergie chop wood to enhance his delivery, and throw a three-pound hammer to develop his curve ball.”
Dziadura and Jenkins became lifelong friends, and he advised and remained loyal to Jenkins through thick and thin during his career, even making the funeral arrangements for Jenkins’ mother.
“While the Gene and Fergie stories are endless, Gene had a profound impact on the lives of many. He took a genuine interest in everyone he met, including my brother Greg, who was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. Gene was fighting the same fight, and he inspired Greg and kept in touch with him until the end,” Valcke added.
“Gene held court many a time under the tent on the Hall’s Ceremonial Grounds here in St. Marys, and his presence will be sorely missed.”
Obituary & arrangements: http://www.mckinlayfuneralhome.com/schedule.asp?id=2603
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