EXTRA BASES XX -- Campbell wins Volunteer award

Jan. 23, 2009 Updated Draft list

2009 Canadians in College

Don Campbell wins Achievement award in Ottawa, Gomez R.I.P. A week to Remember


By Bob Elliott

From the west end sandlots to coaching at Olympic Stadium and against Team Australia. That is the road Don Campbell has travelled. From mentors like Gord Hamilton, Fred Wigney, Bruce Hamilton and his father Ken, he always put the needs of players first and foremost. What was important to Campbell since the day he began coaching was the fact he never, ever put wins and losses over development and exposure for his players in front of college recruiters or pro scouts. If he said a pitcher was pitching the first game Saturday and the recruiter/scout was coming to see him, well the pitcher started, no matter who make the second or third phone call asking for a special viewing. Yet, it was never about the few who advanced to the next level. Campbell always tried as humanly possible as it is to fit 15 players into a nine-man lineup and keep as many players happy as possible. That’s why when he was telling a story about his favorite memory of coaching Little League at Pinecrest rang so true. Q: Why did you leave the Canadians to coach Pinecrest? A: Nelson Skuce (who went to camp with the Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs and was the editor at the Ottawa Citizen) said they were stuck. That’s it, that’s all. A friend needed help. For baseball. One year at Pinecrest with the game on the line, as so often happens in baseball, the worst player on the team was up with men on base and two out. “Who is hitting?” asked another coach. “Get him outta there,” scream a not so subtle parent. Campbell, who may have a stubborn streak in him or may have gone with his baseball-shaped heart, allowed the boy to hit. He delivered the game-winning hit. As anyone who has been involved in baseball so long there have been plenty of highs and lows, like walk-off losses, like seeing a catcher blow out his knee three days before he went off to school or fighting with the city over user fees. But since this night is a high light we shall focus on the good memories: - Like watching right-hander Shawn O’Connor pitch and wear the red and white of the Canadians uniform as proudly as anyone since the organization was ever formed. He was with the Canadians from 1993-2002 and spent six summers he spent with Team Canada, plus he was a regular pick-up by the Ontario champion Windsor Chiefs. A Sunday doubleheader? Who is pitching “O’Connor,” Campbell would say. And who is pitching the second game. “O’Connor,” Campbell would say. And O’Connor would pitch all 14, collect a couple of hits and RBIs in each game. - Like watching lefty Mike Kusiewicz outpitch the Team Canada National Junior team ace at Lynx Stadium and then seeing him be the second over-all Canadian the next year in the 1994 draft. Or his studly brother Brian knock off Ivy in dramatic fashion. - Like seeing Peter Hoy (Cardinal, Ont.) return from pro baseball and fit into the senior situation like a hand in a well-worn glove. - Like winning the OBA senior title on Labour Day and then having the victory protested because of the eligibility of Bruce MacGregor, who began the season in Kitchener. The response from the baseball community across the country was quick and to the point. “Team Canada would have a stronger program if all coaches allowed their players to move to the next level as Don Campbell does,” wrote National Team coach Bernie Beckman. “We got beat fair and square and have nothing to do with this complaint, the title belongs to Ottawa,” wrote a Toronto coach. “We would not have won the Canadian midget title without Campbell loaning us Kusiewicz,” wrote Guelph coach Larry Pearson. “Donald Campbell has kept baseball alive in the capital for many a year, baseball in this province is in good shape because of life long volunteers like him,” wrote Bill Byckowski, then Canadian scout of the Toronto Blue Jays. “He did nothing wrong, the player moved during the season,” Brian McRobie, Brockville Bunnies. Once the OBA emerged from underneath the mound of faxes, it ruled said that the title stood. The Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Sports Club, of which Campbell began a director of in 1980 in its second year of existence, has shelled out  millions from a heart room at Civic Hospital to the hockey, ringette, football and baseball organizations since being formed in 1979 with Brian Boston, Ray Fortier, Wigney and the Hamilton Brothers. Campbell has coached senior and elite teams of grade 11 and 12 students since 1993. In 15 years he had missed four days of games for weddings while never missing a whole weekend. Daughters Sara, now at Queen’s University, and once voted best scorekeeper at the midget eliminations, and sister Krista, headed to Queen’s soon grew up at ball parks waiting for pop to discuss what happened in the sixth inning. Or else they grew up at a shopping mall near the ballpark with their good pal Jo-Jo Polak, Campbell’s wife. Travels took the Canadians to Montreal and the Olympic Stadium to play the ABC, throughout most diamonds in New York state, and some trips into New England. And one night at Hamilton Yards in Nepean the Canadians played Team Australia. Missing four days in 15 years, even when he was busy crime fighting, now that might fall into the dedicated or the crazy -- crazy about baseball -- column. Nowadays baseball goes roughly 11 months a season from putting up the indoor batting cages at the Sensplex, to ordering uniforms, to cutting players, to the fun part of playing games on both sides of the border and helping them with the recruiting process as they head off to school. Years ago he was asked by an old friend how baseball was in Ottawa? “Registration wasn’t what it once was, teams are scooping players from other teams worse than ever, we’re having a coaching shortage, but you know what, the kids are better than ever.” That has changed in a lot of areas, but Campbell is still on the side of “the kids.” “Kids today get bad raps for a lot, well there are just as many good kids and bad kids as there were in any era." When was Campbell feted the other night at Alongonquin College, it was the perfect night, as Gord Hamilton would say to “blow off a little steam.” Campbell coached and played (although not very well) for the McKellar Park Phillies, joined the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians senior team as the GM -- which he will quickly tell you was the best team ever, coached Carlingwood big league, Pincecrest Little League and the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Illustrious grads from Carlingwood, Pincrest and Ottawa-Nepean Canadians in baseball and those other sports: C Murray Osterer, All-Canadian Offensive lineman, Concordia Stingers; 1B Bruce Cassidy, Ottawa 67’s NHL player Chicago Black Hawks; coach Washington Capitals, Kingston Frontenacs, Providence Bruins; CF Tom Timlim, All-Canadian linebacker, John Metras award winner, Carleton Ravens; 3B Shawn Kilroy, goalie Peterborough Petes, drafted by Vancouver Canucks; 2B Jeff Fitch, all-time leading scorer with Ottawa West Golden Knights, Junior B. C Al Fraser, Oswego State; SS Phil Franko, John Jay College, four years in the Minnesota Twins system at Single-A Elizabethton, Single-A Visailia, Single-A Kenosha; LHP Kevin Pearce, Western Kentucky University; C Peter Chiarelli, captain Harvard University Crimson hockey, GM Boston Bruins; 1B Tom Langford, All-Canadian linebacker, Queen’s Golden Gaels. RHP Shawn O’Connor, Team Canada 1991-95, Jimmy Rattlesnake award winner; SS Mark Worobey, St. Petersburg Jr. College; LHP Mike Kusiewicz, second Canadian drafted over-all, 8th round, Colorado Rockies, 1994 (pitched 14 years in the minors at: Single-A Asheville, Single-A Salem; Double-A New Haven, Double-A Tennessee, Double-A Trenton; Triple-A Pawtucket, Double-A Midland; Triple-A Sacramento; Single-A High Desert; Edmonton and Ottawa independent Northern League; pitched in the Rockies, Jays, Red Sox, A’s and Brewers systems; pitched for Team Canada, including the 2004 Olympics); C Cameron Pelton, Le Moyne University; 1B Trevvy Mosley, Mohawk Valley, Pace University, Johnstown, independent Frontier League, 2000. RHP Jed Fuller, drafted by the Houston Astros; RHP Jason Kizer, Sienna University; 1B Dave O’Brien, Felecian College; RHP John Hawkins, Brewton-Parker College; RHP David Barrington, College of Saint Rose; SS Lionel Best, Team Canada SS Quinn Peel, University of Maine; LHP Matt Miller, University of British Columbia; RHP Brendon Stafford, Oklahoma Baptist University; OF Bruce McGregor, Team Canada; RHP Danny Desclouds, Connors State, Northwestern State. OF Sebastian Boucher, Bethune-Cookman University, selected in the seventh round by the Seattle Mariners, 2004 (entering his sixth seasons with the Mariners and Baltimore Orioles organizations: Single-A Wisconsin, Single-A Inland Empire, Double-A San Antonio, Double-A West Tennessee, Double-A Bowie; Triple-A Tacoma, Triple-A Norfolk); LHP Tyler Robinson, Brandeis University; RHP Craig Chaput, Sienna University; SS Denten Neill, New York Tech; RHP Steve Osterer, Cornell University. LHP Ryan Virtue, Niagara University; C Matti Emery, University of Bridgeport; RHP-SS Matt McGovern, Monroe Community College, University of North Carolina-Pembroke; RHP Matt Dubord, Labette College; INF Chris Bisson, University of Kentucky. OF Matt McCarney, Prairie Baseball Academy, New York Mets, LHP Mike Lynch, Marshalltown College, signed by the Toronto Blue Jays, OF Aaron Difruscio, Le Moyne College; RHP Greg Daviault, Seton Hill University; SS Alex Baldock, University of Buffalo; RHP Brett Sabourin, Niagara University. Any stories about Donald Campbell, post away? Farewell: Preston Gomez, Cito Gaston’s favorite manager passed away this week. Former Jays scout Ed Heather (Cambridge, Ont.) remembers Gomez shortstop for the Brantford Red Sox in 1950 under the name of Pedro Juarez. Apparently he was suspended from pro baseball for jumping a contract and because of the Intercounty agreement with pro baseball at the time he would have been ineligible for them too. He shared infield duty with Ron Hodara, who now is a priest in Oakville, and also fills in at Heather’s parish once a month. Busy Week: How is this for all in one week: Undrafted free-agent Randy Schwartz (King City, Ont.) signs with the Blue Jays. Minor-league free-agent RHP Ryan Braun (Kitchener, Ont.) signs with the Chicago White Sox. Minor-league free-agent C John Suomi (Etobicoke, Ont.) signs with the Kansas City Royals. Minor-league free agent INF Chris Barnwell (Shelburne, N.S.) signs with the Houston Astros. Undrafted free-agent RHP Kris Dabrowiecki (Toronto, Ont.) signs with the Milwaukee Brewers Tim Leiper (Ottawa, Ont.) signs to manage the Florida Marlins, Single-A Florida State League entry. IN YER FACE: The Canadian Baseball Network facebook group is up and running ... and running fast: Mike Nitsos (Whitby, Ont.), of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, is the 400th to join. Grant Kveder (Lethbridge, Alta.) of the Gonzaga Stags is No. 500. Dan Chappel (Edmonton, Alta.) is No. 600. Drew Parker (Surrey, BC) of West Florida, is No. 700. Andrew Brock (Burnaby, BC) of the Idaho Coyotes is No. 800. EXTRA, EXTRA: Since you asked ... we have a recap of the previous columns: Brett Lawrie, first rounder, of the Brewers. EXTRA BASES 1 -- First week of the nationals. EXTRA BASES II -- Second week of the nationals. EXTRA BASES III -- Results from the third week of the nationals. EXTRA BASES IV -- The best 15-16-year-olds from Canada gather at the Rogers Centre for the annual Mizunio Camp. EXTRA BASES V -- Checking in on the National Junior Team in Florida. EXTRA BASES VI -- Dropping in on the Cincinnati Reds instructional camp in Sarasota, more Canucks on the roster than anyone else. EXTRA BASES VII -- Letters of Intent list of Canadians committed to college. EXTRA BASES VIII -- WBC SS job goes to Chris Barnwell, Jay Johnson pops at the PBA. EXTRA BASES VIX -- Baseball Ontario and Baseball Canada's best hear from former Expos ace Steve Rogers. EXTRA BASES X -- Past All-Canadian team members to go on to the pro ranks EXTRA BASES XI -- Alexandre Periard (Brewers) Chris Leroux (Marlins) promoted to 40-man rosters. EXTRA BASES XII -- R.I.P. Tommy Burgess, former MLB player, National Team coach! EXTRA BASES XIII -- R.I.P. Jim Ridley, former minor-league pro, Intercounty MVP, scout and national team coach. Our all-time hit leader. EXTRA BASES XIV -- 2008 All-Canadian College Team with links to 2000-07 teams. EXTRA BASES XV -- Dany Wood is Canuck born, Lutton Birnie -- Fab 50s, Baseball Canada banquet, BA top prospects EXTRA BASES XVI --Morneau, Whitt to Lead Team Canada in WBC, Tip O'Neill award to Morneau, All-American honours to Davis Regan EXTRA BASES XVII -- Miller, Van Pelt turn in skates for scholarships EXTRA BASES XVIII -- The top 100 Most Influential Canadians in baseball EXTRA BASES XVIX -- Team Canada's WBC roster and more