*Former coach Bob Smyth says Joey Votto (above), the 2010 National League MVP wasn't the best player he ever coached -- Henry Andrulis was. 2012 Canadians in College
By Bob Elliott
Legendary Toronto sandlot coach Bob Smyth read our blog during the National League Division Series about standing in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout waiting to speak to Chris Carpenter when a guy in uniform read my credential and asked a question.
“Let me drop a name on you?”
“Henry Andrulis?” the Cardinal said.
Yep, I’ve heard of him, he played for Team Canada.
“He hit one of the longest home runs off me I ever gave up.”
And you are?
Turned out it was lefty Barry Frank, now a full-time teacher and a part-time batting practice pitcher for the World Series champion Cardinals. He pitched in Toronto two seasons.
“Henry is the best player Bob Smyth has ever coached, there ain’t no number two,” Smyth said.
Hold on a second ... Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, 2010 National League MVP?
“I’ve told Joey that Henry was better, Joey has heard it all before,” Smyth said. “I have coached over 2,500 players over the years and have never seen one better. Never screwed-up in the clutch with the bat and then pitched the ninth for the Etobicoke Indians and shut the other team down.
“He led the league in every possible category and everybody who played in the League knew who was best player.”
Andrulis is still good in the clutch. He now lives in Thorold and is an air traffic controller at Pearson International for previous 20 years.
“Henry never played pro because back then they stereotyped players,” Smyth said. “Henry was not a big guy and peaked at 20. He had more power and faster hands than Dustin Pedroia and could run. He had a left field arm but he accurate.”
What about Greg O’Halloran who played for Smyth and reached the majors with the Florida Marlins?
“O’Halloran and Votto have both achieved greater success but if I had all three of the at the same time and age Andrulis would bat third,” said Smyth, now living in Ladysmith, B.C. “He was absolutely the best player I have ever coached.
So, we asked Smyth, who has scouted for the Seattle Mariners, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Major League Scouting Bureau and other organizations, to email us his all-time Etobicoke Rangers/Indians team, who roamed his finely manicured Connorvale Park.
He based it on their time and contribution to those teams only at the time they played -- not what they became after they graduated. Votto, O’Halloran, right-hander Shawn Hill, who pitched with the Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres and the Blue Jays, catcher George Kottaras now of the Milwaukee Brewers and Warren Sawkiw, former Detroit Tigers and Blue Jays minor leaguer, all played pro and “without doubt are the best players who ever played for us, but at the time the played for us, they were not fully developed and did not play better than others.”
Smyth's ll-time Etobicoke team ...
Catcher -- Curt Duggan
1B -- Frank Ponce
2B -- Mark Capone
3B -- Ric Osborne
SS -- Joe Jurus
OFs -- Henry Andrulis, Tim Deacon and Warren Bradley.
RHPs -- Andrew Braun, Sean Conlin, Mike Gauthier (tied)
LHP -- Steve Bisser
Best Power -- Frank Ponce
Best Fastball -- Andrew Braun
Best breaking ball -- Mike Gauthier
Best pitcher --Sean Conlin
Best hitter -- Henry Andrulis
Best leader -- Henry Andrulis
Biggest pain -- Greg O’Halloran (“and he still is, but I love him dearly.”)
Most proud of -- John Cardella and Rob Pineau who both became surgeons
Biggest regret -- Not convincing Joe Jurus to give up football for baseball. He would have pitched in the majors for fun.
Best player -- Henry Andrulis
If you’d like a lineup, including the pros ...
1. Tim Deacon LF
2 Mark Capone 2B
3. Henry Andrulis RF
4. Joe Votto 1B
5. Greg O’Halloran C
6. Joe Jurus SS
7, Warren Sawkiw CF
8. Ric Osborne 3B
9. Sean Conlin P
“With that lineup,” said Smyth, “I would have had a hard time screwing things up ... but maybe not.”