“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 toeing the rubber for Canada at the 1987 Pan Am Games. On August 18 of that same year, he was signed as an amateur free agent by Blue Jays director of Canadian scouting Bob Prentice.
After parts of four seasons in the minors, the Canadian left-hander made his major league debut for the Blue Jays on April 12, 1991 at SkyDome (currently Rogers Centre). He was given the start against the Milwaukee Brewers and the first three hitters he faced were Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Gary Sheffield. Boucher held the Brewers to three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and the Blue Jays eventually won 5-4. He’d make six more starts for the Blue Jays before he was dealt to Cleveland on June 27 as part of a package for knuckleballer Tom Candiotti and outfielder Turner Ward.
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. Boucher returned to Cleveland in 1992 but was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the National League Expansion draft after the season. The Rockies traded him to the San Diego Padres in March 1993 and he spent three months in Triple-A before he was dealt to his hometown Montreal Expos.
After going 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 11 appearances (six starts) for the triple-A Ottawa Lynx, Boucher was recalled by the Expos. His highly anticipated first game 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. In all, the young southpaw would go 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts down the stretch for the Expos.
Boucher returned to make 10 appearances for the Expos in 1994 and would play three additional seasons in the Expos’ organization. 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.
On a grassroots level, Boucher has also helped develop youth baseball programs in his hometown of Lachine and has served as president of the Lachine Amateur Baseball Association since 2007.
For his efforts, he was elected to the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame the following year. In 2017, a baseball field in Lachine, Que., was renamed in his honour.