Longtime friend and supporter of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Michael Burgess passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer at the age of 70.
His involvement with the Hall of Fame began in 2002 when he hosted a fundraising concert for the museum at The Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ont. Almost every year since that concert, Burgess had performed passionate versions of the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at the Hall’s annual induction ceremonies. The beloved singer and actor was also a regular participant in the Hall’s celebrity golf tournaments and London Salutes Canadian Baseball breakfasts.
“Michael Burgess was a tremendously talented actor and singer, a passionate Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame supporter and most importantly a wonderfully kind and generous man. I think his breathtaking performances of the national anthems at our annual induction ceremonies were as widely anticipated as the inductee speeches. We will miss Michael’s voice, his warmth and his generosity, but we will never forget him.” said John Starzynski, chair of the Hall’s board of directors.
Burgess was also known for singing the national anthem at other sporting events, including Toronto Maple Leafs games, and on October 17, 1992, when the Toronto Blue Jays were facing the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the World Series at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, he became the first person to sing “O Canada” at a World Series game.
Burgess was best known for his role in the Toronto production of Les Misérables, where he played the character of Jean Valjean 1,000 times during the show’s run. The year-long production opened at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre on March 15, 1989.
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be shared on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Facebook page when they are finalized.