Jamie Romak to be presented with Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Tip O’Neill Award on Canada Day

Jamie Romak to be presented with Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Tip O’Neill Award on Canada Day

London, Ont., native Jamie Romak will be presented with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2020 Tip O’Neill Award prior to his game against the Samsung Lions at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, South Korea on July 1.

Michael Danagher, the Canadian ambassador to Korea, will be presenting the award on behalf of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Canada’s baseball shrine presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.

Romak, who batted .282 with 32 home runs in 139 games for the SK Wyverns (renamed the SSG Landers in 2021) of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), is a first-time winner of the award. He staved off strong competition from major leaguers Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.), Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.), Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.), Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) and Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.), as well as from Brock Dykxhoorn (Goderich, Ont.), who pitched for the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions, to secure the honour.

“Jamie Romak has developed into one of the most feared power hitters in the Korea Baseball Organization,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “He played a full season in 2020 and hit 32 home runs, had 91 RBIs and finished with a .399 on-base percentage. Those numbers were the best by any Canadian professional player in 2020. Most importantly, Jamie is highly respected by his peers and teammates and has been a great ambassador of the game for our country. We’re proud to recognize him with this award.”

On top of his power numbers, Romak also had 85 runs, recorded 32 doubles and walked 91 times, while registering a .546 slugging percentage and an .945 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), in 2020. All of these numbers topped Canadians in professional baseball last year.

Romak also ranked in the top 10 in a number of Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) offensive categories, including tied for first in walks, tied for sixth in home runs, seventh in slugging percentage and eighth in OPS.

Born in London, Ont., in 1985, Romak is in his fifth season with his KBO club. During his tenure with them, he has never belted less than 29 home runs in a season. He hit a career-high 43 in 2018.

Prior to his tenure in Korea, the London Badgers and national team alum played parts of 13 seasons in the affiliated minor league ranks and had major league stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015.

Romak has also been active in charitable and community endeavors during his career. He has been a strong supporter of Baseball Canada and of the Boys and Girls Clubs in the various cities he has played in. Also, during the off-season, he sponsors local players, in his hometown of London, Ont., so that they can get individual baseball training.

“It’s an absolute honour to receive this award and have my name engraved beside so many great players – many of whom I grew up idolizing,” said Romak. “I am motivated by the generations of Canadian ball players before me that have made their mark and done so with dignity. I’m thinking of my family, friends and all the coaches along the way that have supported and encouraged me over the years. I’m humbled and grateful. Thank you.”

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.

To determine the winner of the Tip O’Neill Award, 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 their support in fan voting. The Hall also consults with a panel of baseball experts to receive their input.

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
2019 – Mike Soroka
2020 – Jamie Romak