2004 Scout of the Year Jim Ridley

 * Jim Ridley (Burlington, Ont.) did it all in baseball: playing outfield, coaching, managing, teaching and instructing, but his No. 1 love was scouting. ...  


By Bob Elliott

The Minnesota Twins were not major players in the 2004 June draft.

Twins scout Jim Ridley selected two Canadians -- third baseman Rene Tosoni of Port Cotquilam, B.C., in the 34th round and lefty lefty Nicolas Bleau of Mercier, Que., in the 49th round.

Yet, this being an Olympic year and the fact that Canada will compete in Athens at a time when some North American countries will not, factor into our annual post-draft decision.

Ridley, who is from Burlington, is the 11th annual Canadian Baseball Network scout of the year. During his days with the Jays, Ridley was involved in signing three players who helped Canada qualify -- Cambridge’s Rob Ducey, who played 14 years in the majors; Brampton’s Matt Logan and Mississauga reliever John Ogiltree.

The late Jiiiime Kane of Brampton (who signed Pete Orr and Scott Thorman), former Jays scout Bill Byckowski (Mike Johnson and Logan) and Florida Marlins scout Alex Agostino (Pete Laforest and Shawn Hill) each signed two players who helped Canada qualify.

Ridley is a lifer. He taught full time and in his spare time spent summers with the Jays until 2002. He coached at rookie-class Medicine Hat from 1978 to 1980 and scouted under the late Bobby Prentice.

He coached the Milton Mustangs to the 1996 Prentice Cup, Team Canada in the 1988 Olympics at Seoul and ran clinics.

Ridley signed Paul Spoljaric of Kelowna, B.C., Oakville’s Clint Lawrence, London’s Sean Grimes, David Corrente of Chatham, Laval’s Denis Boucher, Ajax’s Nigel Wilson, Rich and Rob Butler of East York and Pickering’s Lee Delfino and Central Michigan grad Chad Pleiness.

In 1976, Ridley ran the Jays’ first tryout camp in Utica, N.Y. His twin sons attended Ball State University before signing Shayne Ridley with the Baltimore Orioles and Jeremy Ridley with the Jays.

With the Twins, he signed Burlington’s Mark Zamojc to a contract in 2003.

Former winners were Bill Scherrer of Buffalo, (Marlins); Bill McKenzie of Ottawa (Rockies); Tim Harkness of Oshawa (Padres); Cambridge’s Ed Heather (Jays); Wayne Norton of Port Moody, BC (Orioles), Walt Jefferies of Paris, Ont. (Blue Jays); Claude Pelletier (Mets) of Ste-Lezare, Que., the late Jim Kane (Braves) of Brampton, Ken Lenihan of Beford, N.S. (Major League Baseball Bureau).and Dick Groch (Mount Pleasant, Mich.).