Trent Dundas finalist for player of the year

Zack Harmer - OBA 2010 Umpire of the Year with Jack ArmstrongGuelph – Normally, it isn’t a good thing when attention is drawn to a baseball umpire. Being singled out is just about the last thing the good “men in blue” wish for, that is, unless you are called up to the podium at the Baseball Ontario Annual Convention to receive the Dick Willis Award for being named the province’s Umpire of the Year.

St. Marys’ Zack Harmer was presented the honour Saturday night at Ontario Baseball Association Awards Banquet held at the Delta Hotel in Guelph with approximately 500 in attendance. Jack Armstrong, a basketball celebrity with a hidden passion for baseball, presented Harmer with the award, along with OBA Supervisor of Umpires Ed Quinlan.

Harmer, 18, in his final year at St. Michael’s High School, began calling balls, strikes, safes and outs four years ago, when he had to stop playing baseball due to injuries. In addition to his passion behind the plate, he has also been volunteering at the museum, as well as with the grounds crew, at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Named the Western Ontario Baseball Association (WOBA) Umpire of the Year just weeks ago, Harmer officiated at the majority of Bantam and midget games in St. Marys as well as his share at the lower levels, including the gold medal games of all three tournaments hosted by St. Marys Minor Ball in 2010.

“Zack actually gets requested by coaches, which is a rather unique compliment if you think about it,” noted St. Marys Minor Ball (SMMB) WOBA rep Mike Bachner.

The Level 2 certified ump was described at the ceremony to have good judgement and conviction, and is a student of the rules who loves the game and whose passion is contagious. He looks the part, takes the job seriously, and there is no doubt who is in charge when he steps onto the ball field.

“Zack is not only developing as a strong young umpire, but is also serving as a true pioneer and role model for the rest of our young umpires here in town,” said SMMB president Lothar Mueller.

“This amazing recognition will not only encourage him to pursue higher heights in officiating, but will also inspire the others behind him in our system.”

Ironically, Harmer landed his first job, at Foodland, only because one of their managers happened to watch him umpire a game and praised his work ethic.

Ball Hall president Tom Valcke knew Dick Willis, for whom the memorial award is named after.

“I roomed with Dick a handful of times way back when, and I can honestly say that he would have been proud to see an aspiring umpire like Zack Harmer win this award.”

Dundas finalist for player of the year

Trent Dundas, who led the St. Marys Cement Pee Wees to a 38-win, 6-loss and 3-tie record to its third consecutive WOBA Championship and an unprecedented Bronze Medal at the Provincial “A” Championships in Niagara Falls, was a finalist for the Baseball Ontario 2010 Player of the Year award.

The lead-off hitter, whose average topped .500 for the entire season, batted 10/21 (.476) at the provincials, with two doubles, scored a team-leading 11 runs and collected six RBI, amassing a .652 on-base percentage and a .571 slugging percentage.

St. Marys played in four tournaments in total this past summer, and Dundas led the team in on-base percentage in all of them. His stats in the St. Thomas tourney were especially impressive, where he finished with a team-high 12 hits in 16 at bats (.750 batting average).

The speedy catcher, shortstop, outfielder and pitcher also starred for the WOBA Bulls, a AAA tournament team composed of the WOBA’s best 1997-born players.

“Trent did much more than get on base all summer,” said Valcke.

“He understands the game extremely well, and has a perfect way of communicating baseball sense to his teammates in a kind and proper manner. He is a leader on the bench, he cheers other players, and he realizes that a ground ball that scores a run is a good at bat. He is an excellent two-strike hitter, and he is the first player to pick up a teammate when things go south. He works hard in practice, is a joy to coach, and has a bright future ahead of him.”