BWDIK: Alou, Delgado, Koskie, Stairs

Matt Stairs takes a selfie of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees on the steps of the St. Marys town hall. A Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Stairs was asked by his producers to send in highlights of the day to be shown during the Phillies game. 

Matt Stairs takes a selfie of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees on the steps of the St. Marys town hall. A Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Stairs was asked by his producers to send in highlights of the day to be shown during the Phillies game. 

But What Do I Know? … Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Edition

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Some news and notes from this year’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony that took place on Saturday in St. Marys, Ont.:

_ 2015 inductee Carlos Delgado can relate to what Chris Colabello is going through in left field for the Toronto Blue Jays. Some Blue Jays fans might have forgotten that the club experimented with Delgado in left field for 58 games during the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Until that point, Delgado had been used exclusively as a catcher. Similarly, Colabello had played just 10 contests in left field in 11 minor league campaigns prior to this year. “It is really difficult [to move from the infield to left field],” said Delgado at the induction press conference yesterday. “Obviously Colabello is swinging the bat very well. Ever since he got called up, he’s been swinging well and there’s a saying in baseball, they say, ‘They’ll find a place for you.’ And sometimes teams can sacrifice a little defence to get more offence, but moving to left field was tough. When you get those routine fly balls, it’s not a big deal, but when you get that line drive at you and you haven’t seen many of those, you don’t know which way to turn. So for me, it was hard, it was a lot of work. But in spring training [1994] I remember Cito Gaston came to me with the whole left field idea and . . . said, ‘Do you want to play left field in the big leagues or catch in triple-A?’ So we all know the answer to that question. Needless to say, from that moment on, I played every inning of every game in left field for the rest of spring training. There was extra work every day and still when I got out there I felt like I was on an empty island . . . but I have to thank Devon White. He was playing centre field at the time. And he’d say, ‘Kid, go this way or go that way.’” 

_ It was also interesting to hear Delgado, who eventually made close to $150 million during his 17-year big league career, reflect upon how financially strapped he was as a teenager with the class-A St. Catharines Blue Jays in 1989 and 1990.  “I remember the first year there we rented bikes. We didn’t make enough money to have a car. So we lived in town and we rode our bikes to the stadium,” he said. The cost of renting a bike the first year he was in St. Catharines was $25 a month, but the second year the person he was renting the bike from upped the price to $50 a month. “That was a big price hike when you were making $800 a month,” he said.

_ There was nary a dry eye under the tent during the ceremony when Jim Fanning’s son Frank Fanning beautifully eulogized his father who passed away from a heart attack on April 25 at the age of 87. Frank spoke poignantly about his father’s accomplishments with the Montreal Expos, his love for coaching kids and his long friendship with 2015 inductee Felipe Alou. Fanning was supposed to introduce Alou at the ceremony. Frank told the crowd that speaking with Alou on Friday had been the closest he had felt to his father since his dad’s death. At the end of his eulogy, Frank put on his Expos cap and asked the crowd to think of his father when they wore their Expos caps. 

_ During his eulogy, Frank Fanning also revealed that his father was offered the New York Yankees manager’s job in 1982 and later the Minnesota Twins general manager’s position in 1985. He turned down both offers to remain with the Expos.

_ Inductee Corey Koskie, who had his big league career cut short by a concussion, confirmed at the press conference on Saturday that he had been in recent contact with his former Twins teammate Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC), who’s sidelined again by concussion issues. Morneau, now with the Colorado Rockies, has battled concussion-related issues since colliding with Blue Jays shortstop John McDonald while attempting to break up a double play on July 7, 2010. He experienced the concussion symptoms again after making a diving play in a game against the Los Angeles Angels on May 13 and he has not played since.

_ Koskie also revealed at the press conference that the Minnesota Twins’ nickname for fellow inductee Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) was “Softball Sammy.” “When he got up to the plate, he would swing as hard as he could,” said Koskie, “and it was fun to watch. It was just really fun to play against him because he didn’t get cheated.”

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Kevin Glew

Regaled with stories about Mickey Mantle by his father, Ralph, when he was growing up, Kevin Glew developed a keen interest in baseball at a young age in Dorchester, Ont. playing against teams from Vienna, Straffordville, St. Thomas, Stratford, Harrietsville, Belmont, London and Sarnia. His interest blossomed into a full-blown fascination after enduring a bone-chilling wind on the bench seats down the right-field line at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Oct. 5, 1985 to witness the Blue Jays secure their first division title. Though Dale Murphy was his favourite player, the teenage Glew played more like a poor man's Spike Owen - another of his childhood heroes whom he later had the opportunity to interview. When he realized he had no shot at a big league career, Glew focussed his efforts on becoming a sportswriter. During his tenure in the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa from 1992 to 1996, he watched the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx in their glory years and vividly recalls a young Matt Stairs suiting up for the Lynx.With few jobs in sports journalism available upon graduation, Glew entered the financial services industry. But after eight years of writing about RRSPs, Glew decided it was time to write about RBIs again. Since leaving his position in the financial sector, he has had freelance articles published in Baseball Digest, Baseball America and the London Free Press. He has also contributed to CBC Sports, SLAM! Sports, Rogers Sportsnet and MLB.com. In June 2010, he started a Canadian baseball history blog called Cooperstowners in Canada. You can read his blog here. Glew is also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. He is available for paid writing gigs and can be reached at kevin.glew@sympatico.ca