Q and A with Rheal Cormier
*LHP Rheal Cormier began with the moncton Mets and the College Community of Rhode Island … he finished with the Mets and the 2008 Bejing Olympics and a spot in at the Canaidna Hall of Fame induction ceremony ….
By Adam Morrissette
We spoke to 16-year major-league veteran and former National Team player Rheal Cormier (Moncton, NB) at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario prior to him being inducted.
Cormier spent 16 seasons in the big-leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Montréal Expos, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. Internationally, Cormier represented Canada at the 1985 World Junior Championships, 1987 Pan Am Games, 1988 Olympics, 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics.
How does it feel to be a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2012 induction class?
RC: It’s very humbling to be inducted with all of the past Hall of Famers from Canada or players that spent time playing in Canada. To be inducted with Doug Melvin, Rusty Staub, Ernie Whitt and all of the players from Team Canada is definitely something special.
Now that you’re retired, where do you live and how are you keeping busy?
RC: I live in Park City, Utah in the mountains and enjoy hanging out with my kids and family since I’ve retired after the Olympics in 2008. When I was playing I was home for only a couple months a year and now I’m home 24/7. I get to do the stuff I’ve always wanted to do like skiing, mountain biking, golfing, running and working out. I don’t have a schedule anymore so I can just wake up and do my own thing.
Do you ever get a chance to come back to Canada and spend some time at home?
RC: We spend our summers in New Brunswick for usually two months. My kids will be off to college soon so I’d like to spend four or five months a year up there if possible. I like to hunt back home and I have all of family back there who I don’t get to see as much as I’d like.
What are some memories that stick out from when you were growing up playing baseball in New Brunswick and who were some of the players you looked up to?
RC: Everyone talks about Fergie Jenkins and what he did in his career –we all knew who he was, where he was playing and how he was doing. Looking back, for me, the biggest thing was the relationships that I made growing up while playing. You sign up for sports because its fun and you look back and remember some of the coaches and people that made it fun for you.
You had the opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf on five different occasions with the National Team. What did those experiences mean to your career?
RC: It was just an honour having an opportunity to go to camp, let alone making the team. You’re wearing ‘Canada’ across your chest and wearing the colours which meant a great deal. I feel very fortunate for the times when I did play for Canada and I thank Greg Hamilton and Baseball Canada for giving me those opportunities. It’s everybody’s dream to wear the colours of their country in whatever sport they play and I’m very proud of that.
Do you still follow baseball and if so, who are some of the Canadian players that you follow?
RC: I watch the highlights, but don’t follow it daily. Obviously you keep an eye on a guy like Joey Votto who I met while I was in Cincinnati. I remember in 2007 at spring training he got sent back to minor league camp and was so mad. You look back at that and now the superstar he’s become and I think it was just a matter of time when the door opens, a position becomes free and he comes out and hits as well as he has. It’s so nice to see because he was a good player then who challenged himself mentally and obviously he’s succeeded.
BC: You grew up playing against fellow Canadian Matt Stairs (Fredericton, NB) and played with him on some National Teams. Do you still keep in touch with him?
RC: I talk to him randomly — I know he has his own life, kids and a family. We haven’t crossed paths in a couple years, but what a great career he had. For his job as a pinch hitter, only seeing a few pitches a week and to have that kind of success is amazing.