Hamilton, most influential Canuck travels to Cooperstown
* Greg Hamilton, named the most influential Canadian by the Canadian Baseball Network, made the six-hour trip to Cooperstown./Photo: Alexis Brudnicki ….
By Alexis Brudnicki
COOPERSTOWN, NY – As the crowd gathered at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown on Saturday afternoon, waiting for glimpses of the members of the Hall of Fame as they took their seats for the ceremony, one man looked past them.
He wasn’t there to see Al Kaline or Brooks Robinson. He didn’t come for Yogi Berra, Rollie Fingers, Robbie Alomar or even Fergie Jenkins.
The Most Influential Canadian in Baseball came to see one man, the man who put him at the top of that very list.
Greg Hamilton came to see Bob Elliott.
The Canadian national teams director made sure he got to Cooperstown for Elliott’s speech and award presentation. The trip for Hamilton, his wife, and their son and daughter was just a pitstop, as he left to attend to more baseball business in Syracuse on Sunday and will be at World Baseball Classic meetings by Tuesday.
But Hamilton made sure he was there on Saturday.
“To baseball in the country, Bob is invaluable,” Hamilton said. “He’s a guy that cares about the game at all levels. He cares about the people involved in the game. He cares about not only the game at the highest level, obviously the major league level, but he cares about the game at the lowest grass-roots level as well.
“He’s truly a Canadian supporter and a guy that in all genuineness loves the game of baseball and Canadian baseball.”
Hamilton knows just how involved Elliott is because he’s seen it firsthand.
“I see him a lot,” the Ottawa native said. “He cares. Obviously the Blue Jays would be first and foremost in terms of the day-to-day, but he cares about Canadian players, he cares about the national programs, the junior teams and senior teams; the minor league teams, and we’re fortunate to have that.
‘We need it in the country, obviously the publicity is wonderful for the players and the up-and-coming players and the fact that he’s genuine is what makes him really special.”
That something special is what draws many people to new Hall of Famer, including Hamilton. The Team Canada coach always finds time for Elliott, no matter the hour, because he knows how much he cares.
The Kingston native wants to help young ballplayers, he wants to share their stories and he wants more people to be aware of what’s going on in baseball in their home country. It’s because of that and because of who Elliott is as a person that makes people willing to help, even in the middle of the night.
“I’ve had many conversations with Bob at all times, from three-thirty calls in Panama at Olympic qualifiers to phone calls in Sherbrooke, Que. after playing the Cubans, etc., etc.,” Hamilton said. “At all hours and at all times, he’s always interested in what’s going on, he always cares. Most importantly he cares about the players and how they’re doing and what they do and what they accomplish.”
This year’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner has given exposure to a countless number of young Canadian players. Hamilton doesn’t know where Baseball Canada might be without Bob Elliott.
“You can’t measure the significance of [coverage he’s provided],” he said. “Obviously the depth of it and the genuineness behind it and the fact that he connects with players at all levels. He gives players at all levels an outlet to be seen, an outlet to be appreciated and it’s something that we’re tremendously indebted to and appreciative of.”
From one influential Canadian in baseball to another, there wasn’t anywhere else Hamilton could have imagined spending his Saturday afternoon.
“It’s always special [to see a Canadian enter the Hall of Fame],” he said. “It’s a small family, it’s a very tightly-knit family and we’re all doing the same things for the same reasons and it’s so richly deserved. I’m so happy for Bob.”