Jenkins, Bush, OBA HOFers, Gideon, Naylor POYs

 * Fergie Jenkins with Philadelphia Phillies scout Gene Dziadura in 1965. The Chatham right-hander was part of the Ontario Baseball Associations first Hall of Fame class along with builders Carmen Bush, Vi Christopher and the Windsor Chiefs. Photos: Jay-Dell Mah. ....  

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DAN HAUGH: London Badgers named OBA team of the year

DAN ESTEY:  Pick up Breitner, part of OBA’s 1st HOF team


By Bob Elliott

The year was 1969.

Alex Stanley had started a junior team and wanted speedy outfielder George Minerski to play for his team.

One problem.

Minerski had spent the previous season playing junior ball with Leaside.

Howie Birnie, who runs the Shrine known as Talbot Park and all that that entails (from selling penny candy to registering players, was not pleased.

“I wrote a letter accusing Stanley of tampering and drove out to the Columbus Boys and Girls Club to give to Carmen Bush the letter on a Friday,” said Birnie. “I thought about it all weekend and phoned Carmen on Monday and said ‘forget about that letter, throw it out.”

Replied Bush: “Haven’t even opened it. I knew you would change your mind.”

Knowing his people, knowing the game, knowing the strike zone and knowing everyone on every sandlot was a reason the late Bush was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame.

The first class, besides Bush, included right-hander Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.), Vi Christopher (Belleville, Ont.) and the 1982-1991 Windsor Chiefs.


OBA Players of the year: Pickering’s Justin Gideon won the adult player of the year award. Gideon won over Richmond Hill’s Kevin Hillsdon, Guelph’s Troy McCartney and Kyle Zimmer of the London Badgers.

The youth honours went to Mississauga’s Noah Naylor, who beat out Nicholas Foley, Kevin McQuinn, Terrell Spring and Anthony Vavaroutsos.

Noah’s older brother Josh Naylor won the same award in 2010.

The honour roll includes former first-round pick Scott Thorman as well as current and ex-pros Shawn Pearson, Chris Emanuele, Tanner Watson, Chris Robinson, Robert Cooper, Jamie Romak and Mike Kusiewicz, plus collegians Chris Green, Paul Brown, Doug Vandecaveye, Jason Mandryk, Patrick Nailer, Dan Zehr Chris Robinson, Ian Choy, Trevor Barton, Davey Wallace, Tanner Nivins, Greg Densem, Geoffrey Seto, Larry Balkwill, Jake Lumley and Byron Reichstein. 

Former OBA players of the year:

Year Junior and Senior Players of the Year

1994 Chris Green Mike Kusiewicz

1995 Paul Brown Shawn Pearson

1996 Dan Hansen Doug Vandecaveye

1997 Scott Thorman Jason Mandryk

1998 Bradley Gould Patrick Nailer


1999 Chris Emanuele Tanner Watson

2000 Derek Lowe BJ Richardson

2001 Dan Zehr Chris Robinson

2002 Kate Psota Jamie Romak

2003 Ian Choy Cherie Piper


2004 Trevor Barton Davey Wallace

2005 Cain Monaghan Kevin Long

2006 Tanner Nivins Greg Densem

2007 McCalla Sturgeon Robert Cooper

2008 Geoffrey Seto Larry Balkwill


2009 Nicholas Dimpfel Ryan Zimmer

2010 Josh Naylor Jake Lumley

2011 Connor May Byron Reichstein

2012 Jason Stott Matthew Smith

2013 Noah Naylor Justin Gideon


The other award winners included:

Fergie Jenkins Pitcher of the Year (Pee Wee & Down) — Anthony Vavaroutsos, North York (TBA).

Fergie Jenkins Pitcher of the Year-Bantam & Up) — Alexander MacKinnon, Aurora (YSBA).

Coach of the Year (Pee Wee & Down) — Chad Dube, Cambridge (ICBA).

Coach of the Year (Bantam & Up) — Scott Chapman, Brantford (ICBA).

Team of the Year — London Badgers.

President Award — Coach Marc Picard, Windsor, Ontario Youth Team.

Association of the Year — Intercounty Association.

Dick Willis Junior Umpire of the Year — Riley Scandlan, Cambridge (ICBA).

Dick Willis Senior Umpire of the Year — Bill Fleming, Belleville (EOBA)

Don Gilbert Umpire of the Year — Keith McConkey, Thorold (NDBA).


Jack Middlemass Award Volunteer of the Year — Joe Chauvin, Tecumseh (SPBA)

Barry Salt Award-Director of the Year — Cathy Lamarucciola, Maple.


ELECTIONS: Oshawa’s Mark Orton was re-elected OBA president. Returning as the first vice-president is Mississauga’s David Huctwith and the new second vice is Allan Ebert of Sarnia.

The new board consists of Maple’s Cathy Lamarucciola, Listowel’s Ron Berlett, Richmond Hill’s Jeffrey Albaum, Stoney Creeek’s Glenn Ostrosser, Mississauga’s Tony Jasinski and Vaughan’s Dirk Drieberg.



    -- Fergie Jenkins (second from left) and some of the 1958 OBA champs from Chatham: coach Joe Zimmer, Larry Myers and Paul Allen.


Fergie Jenkins

Canada’s only member of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Jenkins was born and raised in Chatham, Ont. Born in 1942. Jenkins began his career at the young age of nine playing for local Chatham teams. When Jenkins was 14, he was part of the Chatham 431 Legion Bantam All Stars, a team that won the OBA Bantam title. The next year, Jenkins moved on to play with the Moose Midget All Stars where he started to gain more experience as a  pitcher.

The team went on to capture provincial honours winning the Ontario midget title in 1957-58. The next season he pitched for the Chatham Knights of Columbus Juveniles where he began to excel as a starting pitcher.

His pro career in 1962 at age 19, when he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies scouts Gene Dziadura and Tony Lucadello. He broke in during the 1962 season pitching for class-D Miami and triple-A Buffalo.

From 1966–1973, while a member of the Chicago Cubs, Jenkins had six straight 20-win seasons, winning the 1971 NL Cy Young Award as the league’s top pitcher.

Traded to the Texas Rangers, Jenkins won the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award, with 25 wins.

Jenkins was voted into Cooperstown in 1991, his third year on the ballot,

He stood at the podium and rhymed off the names of his former teammates: “Bobby Suciama, Bob Swift, Paul Brown, Darcy Peck, Mack Kundo, Kenny Milbourne, Lennie Milbourne ...”

A time zone away we stood in the chilled clubhouse in Arlington, Tex. hours before the Blue Jays played the Texas Rangers that night.

“Who are those guys he’s namking?” asked Jays lefty David Wells. “I’ve never heard any of them.”

Wells was told that Jenkins was listing his teammates from Chatham.

“None of them ever played in the majors,” said Wells as he walked away.

He received the Order of Canada in 1979 and was Inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001.

Jenkins did not forget his roots on induction day, July 21, 1991.




Vi Christopher

Christopher (Belleville, Ont.) became involved in the game in 1956, when parents from the Lemoine Street area in Belleville formed the Belleville Amateur Baseball Association. Vi and husband Ed were founding members of this group and continued for the next 49 years.

Over the years Christopher:

_ Helped create the Quinte League in 1990 where youth from the Quinte area play each other at the house league level.

_ Spent 35 years on the EOBA Executive almost entirely as secretary-treasurer tegistrar.

_ Served on the OBA Board.

_ Was OBA president in 1987-1988, becoming the first female president in the history of the OBA.

_ Helped run the Golden Bat bantam tournament which ran for 32 years and the EOBA Senior division in the EOBA as well as the Labatt Nationals.

Her induction into the HOF was not her first honour as she received: a Bicentennial Medal from the Province in 1984, Belleville citizens gave he a Citation from the City in 1988, a Special Achievement Award from the Province for work in the field of fitness and amateur sport in 1989 was named the OBA volunteer of the year in 1992 and was inducted into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

In a town which featured great baseball names like Gary Goyer, Larry Mavety, Garnie Adams, Mo Hunter, Pat Asselstine, Ralph Plane and Bill Latchford, it was Christopher who put in the longest hours working at the game.




Carmen Bush

The Godfather of sandlot ball in Toronto, was born Carmen Bucchiarello in Toronto, Oct. 26, 1912.

After playing into his 40s,

Bush became the TABA rep in 1931 and gradually became the long term representative of minor ball in Toronto. As the years rolled by, he had a hand in starting up various leagues - the Boys Club League, the Western City League and the Oldtimers Association.

Bush umpired, coached and managed with his Columbus Boys Club juniors winning more Toronto championships than any other organization. At the club, he coached several future Toronto Argonauts, NHL hockey players and pro ball players.

Eventually Bush became disenchanted with OBA’s treatment of Toronto teams, leading the MTABA withdrawal in 1952, a situation that lasted for 17 years. In the winter of 1968-69, W. J. Smith, founder of both MTABA and OBA, asked Bush to return Toronto teams to the OBA. The MTABA rejoined the OBA and Bush became an elected director from 1974-1982.

Bush led the TABA, MTABA and TBA as secretary-treasurer and registrar for 60 years. Bush passed away Dec. 5, 2001.




Windsor Chiefs

The Chiefs were formed in 1969 and entered the Intercounty League in 1979 winning the OBA eliminations in 1979 under Mike Hurst and Ris Massetti in Sudbury and the next year in Windsor as well.

The Intercounty said goodbye to Windsor (claiming it was too far to drive, Windsor claimed the drive home to Brantford, Guelph and Toronto only seemed longer after losses) so the Chiefs entered the Detroit Federal League in 1982 and the Pontiac Federal League in 1989.

They won nine eliminations seven Canadian senior championships and two silver medals in a 10-year span under managers John Upham (1982), Don Hollerhead (1984), Tom Valcke (1986), Paul Rutckyj, (1988-89-90) whose son Evan Rutckyj pitches in the New York Yankees system and Mike Price (1991).

The Chiefs through the championships years included the likes of: Carlo Boniferro, Ritchie Coughlin, Punk Bracken, Dwayne Dawson, Jeff Buchanan, Chio Labute, Pat Dumouchelle, Rob Cecile, Angelo Fantuz, Dave Cooper, Mike Cooper, Larry Leclair, Dave Fitzpatrick, Dave Girard, Jerry Haskell, Pat Hickson, Stew Hillman, Greg Reh, Jim Holmes, John Ivan, Rick Joyal, Mike Kaschak, Mike Price, Dennis McKeegan, Kevin Paradis, Ed Petryshuk, Kyle Rudling, Chris Smeeton, Dave Tronchin, Tom Voinaroski, Steve Vorkapich, Mike Willson, who son Luke Willson is a tight end with the Seattle Seahawks, Rick Lindquist, Hollerhead, Rutckyj and Valcke.

Pick-ups for the nationals who played a large role included: rubber-armed Shawn O’Connor, also part of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians inaugural yearly HOF class Steve Breitner, Kevin Atkinson, Alan Butler and Bob Bush.