2014 Most Influential Canucks
* Edward Rogers was atop the eighth annual most influential Canadians in baseball when the Rogers Communications deputy chairman decided to search for president -- while president Paul Beeston was still in office. And 51 days later Beeston signed a one-year deal. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College …. All-Canadian Team 2015 Canadian draft list …. Canadians in College 2016 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
The Kansas City Royals were winning Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday Oct. 28 10-0 with only a few outs remaining before a Game 7 the next day.
About the eighth inning of the lopsided game someone told us: “Paul Beeston won’t be back with the Blue Jays in 2015.”
Too late to make any calls, but the next day we made a bunch.
After all Beeston’s future was more important than Game 7. Our Ken Fidlin can write a gamer 10 times better than I anyway.
If Beeston left, who would be replace him?
What was the future of general manager Alex Anthopoulos?
Ditto for manager John Gibbons.
All the phone calls resulted in zero franchise-shaking news in the executive suite.
It was status quo.
Beeston, whose contract expired at the end of October, would return for 2015 ... or so we were told.
Little did we know that Edward Rogers, deputy chairman of Rogers Communications, had been making phone calls his own self.
Phone calls to Baltimore ... to Orioles owner Peter Angelos inquiring about hiring general manager Dan Duquette.
And calls to Chicago ... to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf to ask about hiring Kenny Williams, the White Sox executive vice-president, as the Jays next president and to Williams himself.
Both Reinsdorf and Williams confirmed receiving calls at the winter meetings the first week of December in San Diego, two days after ESPN broke the story. Calls to Chicago were either Nov. 5th or 6th.
So, with those handful of phone calls, seeking a new president while the current president was still in office, Edward Rogers has done something his father, the late Ted Rogers, never accomplished.
Edward is our choice as the most influential Canadian in baseball n 2014 on our eighth annual top 101 list of movers and shakers.
Ted Rogers was fourth in 2007 and No. 5 the next year.
Calls to Baltimore and Chicago were either made during the World Series or the first week of November, Buster Olney had the ESPN story Dec. 7 and Rogers Communications still has not issued a denial, a comment or an rate increase.
So, what is the future of president Beeston, who has been with the Jays 32 of the franchise’s 38 years?
GM Anthopoulos? Manager Gibbons?
Planning for next season begins the day after the last game of the season -- in the Jays case Sept. 29th. If Edward Rogers, 45, wanted to make a change he should have had a 1-on-1 with Beeston, 69, long before the Series began.
And he certainly was not wise to make a call to Reinsdorf asking for someone to replace Beeston ... since Reinsdorf and Beeston are best friends.
This is a team Anthopoulos’ put together, to this point. He should be allowed to take another run at the American League East. Same for Gibbons.
Duquette was hired after Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava turned down the job when the O’s would not let him bring an assistant with him in 2011. Duquette had been out of big league offices since 2002 when he was fired by the Boston Red Sox. He has four years remaining on his Orioles contract.
So where did Rogers get the names of Duquette and Williams? Those close to the situation say it was Roger Rai, consultant, Rogers Communications, who suggested the names to Edward Rogers. Rai often has a box at Yankee Stadium when the Jays visit and is a acquaintance of New York Yankees president Randy Levine.
Rai is a director of Pinetree Capital Ltd., a vice president with Keek Inc., is an advisor to Chobani, Inc., a food services company, and was the founder of ONEXONE foundation, a charitable organization focused on global child welfare.
He was “responsible for the acquisition of the Toronto Blue Jays and is part of the ownership group attempting to acquire and move the Buffalo Bills to Toronto,” according to a Pinetree release in July.
Before we ask how that Bills move worked out, an August AP story quoted Rai as saying said references connecting him to the proposed Bills’ purchase were “a mistake on my behalf,” a result of a misinterpretation made by a co-worker who wrote the bio.
Originally we had Rai slotted in at the No. 10 most influential but we thought that was too high a leap for a first timer.
Rogers seems to think that the story is over.
Besides Duquette and Williams, the names of Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan have surfaced as possible successor to Beeston.
And the names won’t stop until Rogers Un-Communications communicates.
This would not have happened under a front office manned by George Steinbrenner with the New York Yankees. Everyone would have been afraid of The Boss.
This didn’t even happen in the bad old days of the absentee owners, those whacky Belgian brewers Interbrew SA.
On with the top 101 ....
1. Edward Rogers, deputy chairman, Rogers Communications, If a man who basically owns the team wants to make a change, all ahead full. It’s hit team. If he wants to bring a new corporate type over from the campus to run the business side of the Blue Jays (tickets, revenue) and hire a new president of baseball operations -- someone with a baseball background -- fine, proceed all-ahead full. But this has been bungled.
What’s next? Phoning Giancarlo Stanton and asking if he wants to play right field?
2. Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies (41). Find us a better feel-good story if you can. Morneau won an MVP with the Twins averaging .292 with 29 homers and 117s from 2006-09 when he took a knee to the head from Blue Jays infielder John McDonald in 2010. Concussion symptoms followed -- fatigue, headaches, frustration -- and so did more injuries in 2011. He had four surgeries on a pinched nerve in his neck, a tendon in his left wrist, a cyst from his left knee and a bone spur from his right foot.
He wanted to stay with the Twins, his only organization, but was dealt at the trade deadline to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he had five doubles and zero homers in 117 plate appearances. Morneau signed a two-year $12.5 million US free-agent deal with the Rockies and in true Canadian fashion came back hit to hit .319 wining the batting title beating Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison by four points. He hit .327 at home and .309 on the road using his BWP birch model bat, the first year he used birch instead of maple.
3. Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays (20). Martin makes a jump for a number of reasons: helping the Pirates to a second-straight post-season after not reaching October since 1992 and handling young arms young arms Gerrit Cole 23, Jeff Locke 26 and Vance Worley 26, plus reclamation projects Edinson Volquez, 30 and Francisco Liriano, 30. They combined for a 3.47 team ERA (fifth best in the NL). The Jays expect him to help the likes of Drew Hutchison, 23, Marcus Stroman 23 and Aaron Sanchez, 21.
While a fifth year and the largest free-agent contract the Jays have ever handed out certainly helped ... so did the Beeston and Anthopoulos sales pitch, which consisted of “Steve Nash was the best Canadian NBA player ever, but what if he’d played for the Raptors, what kind of an impact would he had? All these great Canadian kids in the NBA say their inspiration was Vince Carter. How many kids stayed up to watch the Phoenix Suns?” Martin played for storied franchises -- Dodgers and Yankees -- but how many Canadians saw him play? They told Martin if he signed with the Jays, Canadian kids could watch a great player who is Canadian. All 162 games are televised in Canada, the French-language network TVA has a contract to carry at least 60 games.
4. Alex Anthopoulos, Jays GM (5) How good was Anthopoulos’ season? Well, his Jays spent 61 days in first place. As a means of comparison from 1994 to 2013 the club spent 128 days in first (an average of 6.4 days per season). And all but 46 of those days were in the past 20 Aprils. This year’s Jays spent 54 Jays in first after May 1.
People knocked the GM for not adding talent at the deadline -- would Martin Prado have helped at second? Chase Headley at third? The only addition was Danny Valencia who was earning $532,500 (the major-league minimum is $500,000). So, Rogers took on 1/3 of $32,500 ($10,833). The only off-season was Dioneer Navarro who signed a two-year, back-loaded deal, earning $3 million in 2014 -- exactly what was budgeted for J.P. Arencibia. Did he have the monies? Rogers and Beeston told players at the spring diner “funds will be available if you guys are in it on July 15.” The Jays were 1 1/2 game out of the second wild-card spot on July 20.
Anthopoulos’s off season has been even better trading for Josh Donaldson, whose offensive numbers were second only to Mike Trout in 2014, trading to left fielder Michael Saunders and he signed Martin. But the bullpen? Unsolved.
5. Paul Beeston, Jays president (2). Beeston has been the loyal solider defending Rogers during each and every hit the Jays took for not adding payroll. The only different rationale we heard was that Beeston was given an option heading into 2013: have some of the budget now and the rest in 2014 or take it all in 2013. The Jays chose to upgrade with the 12-player Miami Marlins deal, acquiring R.A. Dickey and signing Melky Cabrera.
There was a big-time clue this was going to be a difficult to add salaries when in spring training five Jays -- at the behest of management -- were asked to chip in (defer salaries) so that the Jays could sign free-agent Ervin Santana for $14.1 million. Jose Bautsita, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes agreed to re-structure their deals, but the Atlanta Braves lost starters on back-to-back days and Santana headed to Georgia instead. Under proud Canadian Beeston the Jays will field a lineup with three Canucks opening day: Montreal’s Martin catching, Saunders of Victoria in left and Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey in centre.
6. Joel Wolfe, agent, Wasserman Group (25) Wolfe secured a record-setting, 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins for his client Giancarlo Stanton. The outfielder can opt out after 2020 Series, around his 31st birthday. Stanton will earn $6.5 million in 2015,, $9 million in 2016, $14.5 million in 2017 and $25 million in 2018. He gets $26 million in each of the next two seasons, then can decide whether to cut the deal short and go back on the market.
The deal includes a $25 million club option for 2028 with a $10 million buyout. If he stays with the Marlins he gets $29 million in 2021-22, and $32 million each of the following three seasons. His salary drops to $29 million in 2026 and $25 million in 2027. And Wolfe secured the first no-trade clause ever granted by owner Jeffrey Loria. The parents of the Bishop’s University grad grew up in Montreal, he has a summer home in Ayer’s Cliff, Que., and he maintains his Canadian citizenship. Wolfe also represents 2014 all-stars Chase Utley and Tyson Ross, while Brandon Crawford won another World Series. Brandon Morrow signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres. He just signed Rangers prospect Joey Gallo.
7. Farhan Zaidi, Los Angeles Dodgers GM (10). Zaidi was born in Sudbury and was three when his father took a job in the Philippines with the Asian Development Bank. Yet, when he left the Oakland A’s to join the Dodgers, Canadian fans had already adopted Zaidi as their own. Wrote one fan after the five-player deal which saw Donaldson come to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie: “Already the lack of a Canadian influence is showing in Oakland. No way Billy Beane makes that trade with Farhan still there.”
In the multi-levelled LA front office Stan Kasten hired Andrew Friedman from the Tampa Bay Rays. Friedman hired Zaidi and gave the GM title with his emphasis on the 40-man roster. Josh Byrnes was hired as Friedman’s No. 2 in charge of rebuilding the farm system. Zaidi signed free agents Brandon McCarthy (four-year $48 million deal) and Brett Anderson (one-year $10 million). Moving Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz and cash to the San Diego Padres for Zach Eflin, Yasmani Grandal and Joe Wieland, along with purchasing Mike Bolsinger’s contract from the Arizona Dimaondbacks were Byrnes deals.
8. Pat Gillick, Philadelipa Phillies interim president (12). It was a regular year for the Hall of Famer ... until August. He scouted west coast prospects leading into to the draft, served as an adviser to club president Dave Montgomery and GM Ruben Amaro. Montgomery, 68, underwent jaw cancer surgery in May, yet continued his own duties with the Phillies and served on the commissioner search committee to replace commissioner Bud Selig.
Gillick took over for Montgomery on an interim basis Aug. 28, headed onto the road to evaluate the Phillies and is expected to stay on until late into 2015. Gillick has admitted that the Phillies will not contend next season. Jimmy Rollins was been dealt to the Dodgers and Antonio Bastardo went to the Pirates. The Hall of Famer’s autograph is worth money and he sends his appearances fees to Dennis Gilbert’s Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. He has raised $60,000 in card show appearances and signings since his induction.
9. Doug Melvin, Milwaukee Brewers GM (9). The Brewers started the season 20-7 and sat atop the NL Central for five months only to finish with 22 losses in their final 31 games. Owner Mark Attanasio was so disappointed with the ending that he didn’t address the team the final weekend, as he usually does.
The Brewers signed Matt Garza as a free agent to join Yovani Gallado, Kyle Lohse and Wily Peralta, while Francisco Rodriguez had 44 saves. The problem was the offence, so the Chatham, Ont. native added Adam Lind from the Jays. Melvin kept his job despite the late-season collapse. Attanasio showed confidence in him and he is still the right man for the job. In turn Melvin kept manger Ron Roenicke. Now, there’s a name to be the Jays next president of baseball operations ... down the road.
10. Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada (7). Canada ranks seventh in IBAF world rankings which lists 122 countries and Hamilton is the main reason. He puts together the senior team (which he will for the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Ajax this summer), the junior program which makes four travelling tours to Florida and the Dominican each year. Canada ranks behind Japan, Team USA, Cuba, Chinese Taipei, The Netherlands and the Dominican Republic. Canada ranks ahead of Korea, Puerto Rico and Venezuela in the top 10.
A total of 12 Canadian Junior National Team members or grads were drafted in June. And some say that Tournament 12 was the brain child of the Peterborough native who lives and work in Ottawa where his son Ty Hamilton, 13, is working on his back door slider, asrer mastering the tricky Georgetown scoogie.
11. Larry Walker, Hall of Fame candidate (10). Walker hit .381 at Coors Field, which according to some Baseball Writers of America Association voters was a crime. He also hit .300 or better at 11 other stadia: Safeco Field (.600), Jacobs Field (.500), Bank One Ballpark (.350), Fenway Park (.333), The Kingdome (.333), Tropicana Field (.333), Wrigley Field (.333), Fulton-County Stadium (.326), PNC Park (.313), County Stadium (.313) and Kauffman Stadium (.300).
Walker was named on 20.3% of the ballots in 2011, his first year of eligibility. The next year he had 22.9% and in 2013 he was at 21.6%. But last January he fell to 10.2% as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas appeared for the first time. The 2015 election won’t be any easier with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz making their first appearances.
12. Dan Shulman, broadcaster, ESPN, TSN (6). Shulman is the most listened to play-by-play man in North America. He’s the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball with analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk, along with reporter Buster Olney. Shulman calls NCAA men’s college hoops games alongside analyst Dick Vitale. No doubt working alongside the late Jim Hunt at The Fan helped prepare him for walking the high wire.
This was ESPN’s 25th season and in August the network agreed to an eight-year, $5.6 billion contract extension, the largest broadcasting deal in baseball history. It gives ESPN 90 regular-season games, one of the two wild card games and rights to all regular-season tie-breaker games. Regular season telecasts averaged 1.13 million viewers on ESPN and ESPN2, up 4% from 2013 (1.09M) and up 9% from 2012 (1.04M).
13. Bob McCown, host, Prime Time Sports (4). Not that McCown had a bad year but when you have your own documentary -- as McCown did, a high ranking on this list isn’t that important. Especially when you have your own winery. Not that he’s popular, but I’ve had people come up and say “Hello Robert” doing a McCown imitation from San Francisco’s AT&T Park to Morrell Siding, N.B.
Seriously “Pantload: 25 Years of Prime Time Sports,” a documentary of McCown’s radio show, produced by McCown’s Fadoo Productions, details his evolution into “TV Bob” and rise to supremacy as the wisest, hippest, sports radio voice in Canada. Highlights were an in-depth look at his dispute with Jays manager Cito Gaston, his early Jays announcing at Exhibition Stadium, and grasp of the current management.
14. Stephen Brooks, CFO, Blue Jays (8). The Jays were good corporate citizens again this September running the second annual Tournament 12. Brooks was a key man behind this project, as was Robbie Alomar, who made a pitch to the board to help get involved raising funds for the Jays Care Foundation. The board under leadership agreed to contribute $100,000 to help subsidize travel and hotel costs for players selected. Players from outside Ontario paid $330, down from about $1,000-$1,500 in 2013. In the 1980s and 1990s when high schoolers played inside the SkyDome, opposing scouts were not allowed inside. Now, it’s come one, come all.
A Prince George, B.C. native, Brooks is a bright young mind, fresh from attending the Harvard School of Buisness in 2013, which overlapped with the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent lock down. Last time in Cambridge to cover the Jays-Red Sox World Series I looked for his statue -- unsuccessfully.
15. Jeff Mallett, part owner, San Francisco Giants (18). Mallett will have more World Series rings next April when the Giants get their next set of every other year jewelry (three) than the number of soccer teams he owns (two: Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Derby County Football), along with business partner Steve Nash.
Besides being a principal owner and executive committee member of the Giants and AT&T Park he owns 30% ownership of the Bay Area’s cable TV network Comcast SportsNet. The North Vancouver native joined the Giants in 2002.
16. Jerry Howarth, broadcaster, Jays (11). When Dick Enberg was voted the winner of the 2015 Ford C. Frick at the winter meetings we wrote how Howarth didn’t win. Right but wrong. He was not eligible. Broadcasters changed the format into three distinct voting areas: the “Living Room Era” (Mid-1950s to early 1980s) in 2015, “Broadcasting Dawn Era” (origin of broadcasting-early 1950s) in 2016 and the “High Tide Era” (Mid-1980s to present) in 2017 ... which is when Howarth will be eligible again.
The late Tom Cheek worked 4,306 consecutive games with professionalism. His partner, the bouncy, hard-working guy with the corny jokes surpassed Cheek’s total. The Etobicoke resident became a Canadian citizen in April of 1994 and by our count, has worked more than 4,882 regular-season games since he began filling in for Hall of Famer Early Wynn in 1981.
17. Walt Burrows, Canadian director MLB Scouting Bureau (15). A year ago a GM said “To sum it up he’s the best bureau scout in the game, and he has the largest area, the whole country.” And this summer another GM called him the most respected man with a stop watch. Burrows’ opinion will be relied upon a lot next June. While only 17 Canadians were drafted last June next June Canadian Junior National Team members Josh Naylor, Demi Orimoloye and Mike Soroka, plus Arizona State’s Ryan Kellogg are expected to go in the first three rounds.
The Brentwood Bay, B.C. resident instructs annually at the MLB scout school in Phoenix and was a student at the same school in 1992 along with White Sox’s Kenny Williams and Reds scout Bill Byckowski, then with the Blue Jays.
18. Fergie Jenkins, Hall of Famer (19). Jenkins was one of eight Hall of Famers on the 16-man Golden Era committee which met in San Diego the day before the winter meetings began. The committee, which also included former Jays GM Pat Gillick didn’t elect anyone as Dick Allen and Tony Oliva fell one vote short of the required 12 and Jim Kaat was two votes back. It was either a shut out or four votes away from electing three players.
Growing up in Chatham Jenkins pitched 19 seasons winning 284 games. He pitched for four teams but is best known for his 10 years and 167 wins with the Cubs. The national treasure is a regular at Cooperstown and St. Marys each year for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
19. Maury Gostfrand, agent. (-). Based in New York, Gostfrand grew up in the Chomedey area of Montreal before his family moved to North Miami Beach at age eight. He was a die-hard Expos fan and wore Tim Raines No. 30 travelling to see the Expos in spring training and Olympic Stadium on trips home during the summer. He obtained a degree from University of Michigan and a law degree from Miami.
After nine years at RLR Associates, he started his Vision Sports Group in 2005 and has represented former Yankees manager Joe Torre when it came to maketing since 1996. He did Torre’s deal with Dodgers and represents Kirk Gibson when he managed the Diamondbacks. His stable consists of the best from the booth -- 59 in all from every sport -- John Kruk, Ken Rosenthal, of FOX Sports, the league leader in information, Hall of Famer Don Sutton, Ryan Dempster, Kevin Millar, Tom Verducci, Dave Campbell and Jon (Boog) Sciambi, who cut his teeth sharing the same booth as Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Van Horne with the Florida Marlins.
20. Arlene Anderson, Sambat (16). Miguel Cabrera had a bad year swinging the lumber by his MVP standards. But it wasn’t due to his choice of weapon. During the Series Cabrera underwent right ankle surgery to remove bone spurs and repair a stress fracture in a bone at the top of his foot. He still hit .313 with 25 homers and 109 RBIs using his customary 34-inch, 32-ounce, MC-1 Sambat model.
Anderson and husband Jim Anderson, bought Maple Bat Corporation six years ago from founder Sam Holman. The Carleton Place factory makes bats for roughly 470 pro players from all 30 teams. Besides Cabrera, their roster of 136 big leaguers includes Bryce Harper, Robinson Cano, Chris Carter, Andre Ethier, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Melky Cabrera, Alfonso Soriano, Rajai Davis, Aramis Ramirez, Avisail Garcia, Alexi Ramirez, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alcidies Escobar, Omar Infante, David Freese, Jesus Montero and Rickie Weekes. Alfred Maione, director of pro sales, has been a busy man over the years.
21. Jeffrey Royer, general partner, Arizona Diamondbacks (22). The Toronto resident committed $160 million US over a 10-year span as Diamondbacks owner, along with Mike Chipman, while Ken Kendrick is the managing general partner where Hall of Famer Tony La Russsa and former Blue Jays ace Dave Stewart now run the shop.
Royer is one of 13 directors on the executive board of the Calgary-based, Shaw Communications cable company and is chairman of the board and a director of Baylin Technologies Inc. He grew up in Wisconsin a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s not the only cable magnate in town who owns part of a major-league team.
22. John Ircandia, managing director, Okotoks Dawgs (23). The Dawgs drew an average of 2,827 in their 2,100 seat Seaman Stadium which includes a grass berm (room for 1,000). They go over capacity thanks to standing room on open concourses and two patios, including 4,769 on Canada Day. The Dawgs drew 77,000 on the season. BallparkBiz.com ranked the Dawgs fourth amongst summer collegiate leagues in North America. Ircandia’s team was behind the Madison Mallards (6,139 average), LaCrosse Loggers (3,150) and the Elmira Pioneers (3,020). The Dawgs sold out of their last six home games, and three of four playoff contests. On the season, the Dawgs boasted 14 sellouts in 27 total games.
The $8 million Seaman Stadium is the anchor of the Western Major Baseball League. Their Dawgs academy work out at the Duvernay Fieldhouse and Tourmaline Field — the best facilities in Canada — and have become provincial powerhouses at the bantam and midget levels.
23. George Cope, CEO, Bell Canada (-) When the Blue Jays were born it was to sell beer and compete with the Expos. Now, if baseball in Montreal is to find its white knight -- someone with deep pockets to build a new stadium and buy a franchise -- Bell Canada has the means and welfare to battle Rogers Communications.
Stephen Bronfman, son of Charles Bronfman, Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Acquisition, and Dollarama CEO Larry Rossy are reported as the Montreal businessmen studying for more than a year to bring a major league ball to Montreal. BCE (Bell), owns 18% of the Canadiens, Bell Centre and evenko. Garber owns the rights to World Series of Poker and six casinos in the U.S. currently worth $1.38 billion. Canadian Business magazine estimated the Rossy family fortune at $1.4 billion, 54th on the richest Canadians list. Any of the group could be atop the list.
24. Brett Lawrie, Oakland A’s (17). No need to throw away all those No. 13 Lawrie jerseys. He will be back Aug 11-13. And his BC fans can catch him in Seattle three trips a year, playing nine times.
Lawrie will maintain his popularity throughout his career. Hopefully, he can tone down playing like a guy on CFL special teams who gets a no yards penalty every other punt. Had he stayed healthy and had he had a marketing guy who knew the Canadian market he would have more ads than only that for Sunflower seeds. He was loved across the country.
25. Fred Wray, agent (28). The former Canadian National Team right-hander works for Mark Pieper’s Relativity Sports. Pieper represents Justin Morneau and secured a $2 million US bonus for Gareth Morgan selected 73rd over-all. The Morgan deal should make it very difficult for another agent to out-recruit Relativity heading into what is supposed to be a banner draft year for Canucks.
Wray represents the like of Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker of the Angels, Logan Morrison and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, plus Houston’s Jason Castro. Relativity also represents the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Verlander, Andrelton Simmons, Paul Goldschmidt and Mariano Rivera.
26. Gord Ash, assistant GM, Milwaukee Brewers (27). Ash signed bullpen arms Zack Duke and Jeremy Jeffress to minor league deals and they became important parts of the bullpen. Duke was 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 74 games, while ex-Jay Jeffress was 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 29 games. Duke signed a three-year $15 million free-agent deal with the White Sox. Ash dealt lefty Brad Mills to Oakland for international slot money allowing the Brewers to sign shortstop Gilbert Lara, 16, for $3.1 million. The Dominican Republic resident was No. 5 on Baseball America’s list of international prospects.
The Brewers medical team (overseen by Ash) won the Martin Monaghan award for medical staff of the year for the second time the last few years. The Toronto native, who has been in the game since 1978, often helps young Canadians (scouts, front office staff, announcers) at the winter meetings as they try to get into the game and was the sixth highest-paid assistant GM in 2014.
27. Andrew Tinnish, assistant GM, Jays (30). A year ago Tinnish was responsible for bulking up Buffalo adding Neil Wagner, Munenori Kawasaki and Juan Perez, who all contributed. This year he added Steven Tolleson and Kawasaki and they helped out at 1 Blue Jays Way.
Yet, the reason for the high ranking was seeing Tinnish drafts from his scouting director days contribute: Aaron Sanchez (first round, 2010), centre fielder Dalton Pompey (16th, 2010), lefty Daniel Norris (second round, 2011), outfielder Kevin Pillar (32nd, 2011) and right-hander Marcus Stroman (first round, 2012) were all his.
28. Dr. Jason Smith, Blue Jays physician (31). With the retirement of Dr. Ron Taylor, Dr. Smith is The Man, or rather The Doc ball players seek with their injuries -- major or minor. Besides the millionaires at the Rogers Centre, Smith has time for anyone from the grade 11 student or the junior in college heading into his draft year with the injury.
The lanky Calgary native who attended Princeton, was a fourth-round draft of the Flames in 1993 and played the 1996-97 at Saint John in the AHL before concussions shortened his career. Smith trained with Dr. James Andrews seven years and has performed Tommy John elbow surgery six years ago after training under Dr. Andrews. He’s part of the medical staff around the Jays along with Drs. John Theodoropoulos, Irv Feferman, Noah Forman, Allan Gross, Steven Mirabello, Glenn Copeland, James Fischer, Pat Graham, Mark Scappaticci and Mike Prebeg.
29. Rob Thomson, third base coach, Yankees (32). In his 26th season with the Yankees, he has six World Series rings, one more than George (Twinketoes) Selkirk, who 1936-39 and 1941. Thomson won his first four as minor-league field co-ordinator when he ran spring training for Joe Torre.
Who would have thought that the Corunna, Ont., native like Derek Jeter, signed by scout Dick (The Legend) Groch would be in a Yankee uniform longer than the shortstop? An off-season resident of Stratford he waved home 633 runs — including 147 Frankie Crosetti-style hand shakes after homers. He’s looking to be busier this year as the Yanks try to improve on their 84-win total of 2013.
30. Shiraz Rehman, assistant GM, Cubs (-). The Montreal-born Rehman provides financial and statistical information to support trade and player evaluation, oversees the salary arbitration program, manages research and technology functions within baseball ops and evaluated the value of an opt-out clause. Born on the West Island, raised in New York, Rehman returned to the McGill Redbirds and was a starting infielder for four years and captain for two.
He worked as a commodities trader for five years before gaining an MBA from Columbia gained an internship with the Red Sox in 2005 under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Later he followed Josh Byrnes to Arizona and sent McGill coach Ernie D’Alessandro a 12 bats when he heard the program was in financial trouble. He left the Diamondbacks for the Cubs in 2011 and was named assistant GM the next year.
31. Geoff Molson, owner, Montreal Canadiens (55). Molson and the entertainment arm of the Habs, evenko, came up with the idea of bringing the New York Mets and the Jays to town last March. Simon Arsenault event manager at evenko and evenko chief Jacques Aubé made it a success as no less than no less than 96,000 fans showed for the two games.
Would a second stint between the Cincinnati Reds and the Jays go as well? It was doubtful. But then the Jays signed Montreal native son Russell Martin.
32. Wayne Norton (33). Norton drafted Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) as the top high schooler in June (74th over-all in North America) and GM Jack Zduriencik and scout Tom McNamara gave the Ontario Blue Jays outfielder a $2 million signing bonus, which equalled slot money for the 20th over-all pick. The past two season Norton has drafted Tyler O’Neill of Maple Ridge, B.C., the top high school hitter in the third round last year, North Vancouver’s Lachlan Fontaine in the 12th and Morgan.
Norton was the 2014 winner of Jim Ridley award the annual scout of the year presented by the Canadian Baseball Network. This is the 21st annual, re-named in honour of Jim Ridley and besides Ridley, Norton is only scout to win the award more than once, winning in 1998 working the Baltimore Orioles. Norton drafted Ntema Ndungidi (Montreal, Que.) from the ABC 36th over-all in 1998, took Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) in the 11th round and and chose Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, Que.) 11th over-all in 2007.
33. Joey Votto, first baseman, Reds (2). Votto’s lack of presence from the lineup had a direct influence on the Reds 76-win season. Votto made only 61 starts due to strained left distal quadriceps. He was on the disabled list from July 8, the second time he’s been on the DL in 2014. The injury is near the knee that Votto twice had surgery on in 2012.
Canada’s highest-paid athlete spent the off season in Toronto found out what Ken Griffey and Eric Davis learned years ago. The quickest way to get Reds fans to turn: sign a big contract and get hurt. He was inducted into the Etobicoke Hall of Fame in November.
34. Jake Kerr, co-owner Vancouver Canadians (13). The C’s streak ended at three when they lost to the Hillsboro Hops in the Northwest League championship final 4-3. The Canadians had held the Bob Frietas championship trophy for 1,091 days, the second longest tenure in Northwest League history.
Attendance was up slightly on average -- 184,042 in 38 home dates last year for an average of 4,873 in 2013. This compares to 190,187 in 37 home openings for an average of 4,870 in 2014. The Spokane Indians led the way (5,240 fans per games). The Vancouver born Kerr co-owns the team with Jeff Mooney from Regina of A&W Canada.
35. Jim Stevenson, area scout, Astros (75). The former Leaside coach has some kind of year: he drafted 10 -- 10 -- players in June, signed two free agents for the Astros, picked up a nickname the Epy (as in Guerrero) of Oklahoma ... and oh yes at the big-league level his lefty Dallas Keuchel emerged as a stud leading the AL in complete games (five).
Keuchel a Stevenson draft a seventh rounder in 2009 from the Arkansas Razorbacks ($150,000 bonus) has drawn comparisons to a young Mark Buehrle or Kenny Rogers. He made 29 starts going 12-9 with a 2.93 ERA. Stevenson drafts began in the 11th round with Dean Deetz of Northeastern Oklahoma A@M Golden Norse ($100,000) and ended in the 39th when with Deetz’s teammate infielder Brad Antchak of Langley BC, in the 39th (unsigned). In between, were studs like Hawaiian Robert Kahana a Kansas Jayhawk and 6-foot-7 Justin Ferrell with a plus arm from the Connors State Cowboys.
36. Mike McRae, coach, Canisius (35). Now in his 11th-year McRae will opens 2015 as the defending Metro Atlantic champs. Canisius is one of 14 teams to win 40 or more games prior to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons. The Griffs have 257 victories since 2008, the most in the Northeast, and a .635 winning mark in that time, which ranks 24th nationally and fifth among schools from non-power conferences.
A three-time MAAC coach of the year and assistant coach Paul Panik, brother of San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik, do not get beaten often in Canada recruiting. In his lineup next spring are Toronto’s Connor Panas, Langley BC’s Michael Krische, Windsor’s Brett Siddall, Iannick Remmillard of Valleyfield, Que., Devon Stewart of Maple Ridge, BC, Calgary’s Tyler Vavra, Windsor’s Jake Lumley, Brampton’s Zachary Sloan, Cyrus Senior of Kirkland, Que., J.P. Stevenson of Hunter River, PEI and Oakville’s Blake Weston, Oakville, Ont.
37. Jamie Lehman, scout, Jays (50). The 2010 draft was in the 16th round and the Jays pick was getting close. Lehman was asked: “Evan Rutckyj or Dalton Pompey?” He answered Pompey. Lehman was asked again “Rutckyj or Pompey?” Again he answered Pompey. Again some one higher than him in war room asked “Rutckyj or Pompey?” Again Lehman answered Pompey.
Both Rutckyj and Pompey began 2014 in the class-A Florida State League. Pompey zoomed through the Jays system from Dunedin to New Hampshire to Buffalo and the Rogers Centre. Rutckyj was a combined 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 34 games at class-A Charleston and class-A Tampa. And now he’s set to be the Jays opening day centre fielder. Lehman be inducted into the Ontario Blue Jays hall of fame this month.
38. Keith Pelley, president, Rogers Media (23). The Jays are under the Rogers media umbrella, which would lead one to think he makes decisions on who is the president or the next president. Not the case.
Pelley oversees Sportsnet properties, deserves credit for hiring baseball guys Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith, plus cracker jacks like Stephen Brunt, Michael Grange and Mike Cormack. He looks after Rogers properties such as Sportsnet Magazine and CITY-TV as well.
39. Ron Tostenson, national crosschecker, Chicago Cubs (39). The former Blue Jays scout from Kelowna, B.C. had fun watching post-season play. Working for the Seattle Mariners he had a lot to do with landing the talent the M’s exchanged for lefty Erik Bedard in 2008. A former outfielder in the Montreal Expos he was crosschecking Californian amateurs when the M’s gave outfielder Adam Jones a $925,000 bonus as the 37th over-all pick in 2003 and he was in on Chris Tillman were selected in the second round from Fountain Valley High. Seattle sent George Sherrill, Tony Butler, Kam Mickolio, Jones and Tillman, for Bedard which laid the foundation for this October’s success.
Leading into this June’s draft Totenson saw the Cubs first seven picks -- all ranked in Baseball America’s first 121. The No. 4 overall pick Kyle Schwarber had the best pro debut of anyone, with 18 homers after signing in June and receiving a $3.125 million bonus. The other six picks ($5.39 million) were Maryland right-hander Jake Stinnett, Virginia Teach catcher Mark Zagunis, Tallahassee high lefty Carson Sands, lefty Justin Steele of Lucedale, Miss., Dylan Cease from Milton Ga. and right-hander James Norwood from Saint Louis.
40. Murray Cook, scout, Tigers (51). There were a couple of reasons there were more scouts in the crowd than usual induction day at St. Marys. First the late Jim Ridley was being inducted and secondly so was Cook, a scout with the Tigers. The Sackville, N.B., native began his scouting career in 1972 after his playing days in the Pittsburgh system ended. He went on to be general manager of the Yankees, Expos and Reds.
Cook routinely scouts the Canadian Junior National Team in Florida. He’s a two-time scout of the year. This year he had three Tiger drafts, first baseman Corey Baptist from St. Petersburg College, a 17th rounder, Gage Smith from Florida State in the 25th and Magglio Ordonez, a high schooler from Plantation, Fla., a 38th.
41. Ray Carter, president, Baseball Canada (38). Few people in this country have as much passion for the Maple Leaf as this Vancouver engineer. Greg Hamilton accelerated the Junior National Team in 1999, Jim Baba fielded hot-potato political issues from sandlots to the international stage, Andre Lachance runs baseball operations and the women’s team, Kelsey McIntosh co-ordinates coaching programs and Adam Morissette gets the word out from coast-to-coast on those wearing the red and white.
Carter hired them all. Not that he’s big on the west coast, but there is a highway named after him ... or was he one of the engineers who did he design it for RKTG Associates?
42. Jonah Keri, writer, Grantland.com (48). The Montrealer’s latest book — “Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos” — hit the shelves last spring. It was the 10th anniversary of the Expos moving to Washingston, D.C. and marked 20 years since the 1994 Series was cancelled. Up, Up and Away was the No. 1 best-selling non-fiction book in Canada and a New York Times sports best seller. How good is the book? Four of my friends gave it to me for my 65th birthday ... and I’m sure two of them were not re-gifted.
Keri was the editor and co-author of Baseball Between the Numbers, as well as “Tampa Bay Rays, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team From Worst to First,” was a best seller. He is prolific.
43. Allan Simpson, Perfect Game Scouting Service (40). Simpson had a busy career: he was GM of rookie-class Lethbridge Expos, spent three summers with the Alaska Goldpanners summer college league, founded Baseball America, writes for Perfect Game Scouting Service, has been elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame ... and now he’s writing a book on the history of the draft: the successes, the failures and the near misses of the first round.
For Perfect Game he rates prospects for the 2013 draft on all 53 draft areas (50 US states, plus Canada, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.). The Kelowna, B.C. native took over for the late, great Randy Echlin heading the Hall of Fame selection committee.
44. Jacques Doucet, broadcaster (44). If it is possible Doucet, Montreal Expos French-language broadcaster from 1972-2004, will gain even greater popularity this summer with TVA carrying 81 Jays games with their new Montreal-raised catcher Russell Martin? Doucet has been finalist in Ford C. Frick voting 10 times. He’ll be on the 2017 ballot no doubt when the Frick committtee votes on the “High Tide Era” (Mid-1980s to present).
He helped his home province fall in love with one team, his beloved Expos, worked Quebec Capitales games and since 2012 has done Jays games. He was inducted to the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in May 2002 and won the Jack Graney award from Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, as his partner Roger Brulotte did in 2013.
45. Tom Tippett, information services, Boston Red Sox (48). Tippett is GM Ben Cherington’s right arm when it comes to numbers. He oversees the development of the team’s information system and provides analytical support for player evaluation and other decisions. Before joining the Sox in 2008, he founded Diamond Mind, Inc., simulation products until he sold the company in 2006.
The Toronto native graduated from the University of Waterloo and earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He worked in software development and marketing positions for IBM in Toronto and Index Technology in Cambridge, Mass., from 1982 to 1992.
46. Joe Siddall, Jays broadcaster (-). An email from Jerry Howarth last winter signed off “see you next season,” which prompted a return email. Siddall signed off a return email “or maybe we’ll see you in the booth” led to The Fan pursuing Siddall to replace Jack Morris, whom Siddall wasn’t even aware had left the Jays. When Ron Coomer departed the Minnesota Twins to take a job with the Chicago Cubs, Morris headed home and the Jays had an opening.
Siddall worked the first game of the Grapefruit season at Clearwater and nine innings later was hired full time. He grew up a Detroit Tigers fan, threw batting practice for the Tigers and he worked with Howarth the way Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker smoothly and skillfully turned double plays. As one listener wrote after a Jays-Tigers series: Siddall played it right down the fairway. A high compliment. After one year at Central Michigan as a quarterback he changed courses when signed by the Expos.
47. Adnan Virk, ESPN (-). Virk was a presence as Baseball Tonight host this season working 150 shows. He took over after Steve Berthiaume left to join the Diamondbacks. Virk shares duties with Karl Ravech and Jon Sciambi. Virk is knowledgeable, asks insightful questions to former managers, players and guests. And he is quick. How quick? Well, the The Worldwide Leader In Sports (except in Canada where the network is unavailable) has him fill in as host of Keith Olbermann late-night show.
How into baseball is Virk? He took Jayson Stark’s book The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History with him on his honeymoon ... along with his wife Eamon. Virk played hoops at Ernestown Secondary School, outside of Kingston -- Canada’s first capital, attended Ryerson, worked for The Score, was a producer at TSN, a host and reporter for Raptors and Leafs TV before heading to Bristol, Conn.
48. Denis Coderre, mayor, Montreal (-). He’s not Jean Drapeau, but he’s trying ... the 44th Mayor of Montreal is always championing the return of baseball to his city, whether it was a trip to Los Angeles or hosting the Jays. Coderre was a Liberal Member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Bourassa in 1997. He was re-elected in the 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2011 federal elections.
Born in Joliette, Que., Coderre is a political science graduate from the Université de Montréal and completed a Masters degree in Business from the University of Ottawa. He was Secretary of State for amateur sport from 1999 until 2002.
49. Melinda Rogers Jays Care Foundation, Rogers Communications (59) The daughter of late Ted Rogers has a great deal of influence running the Jays Care foundation, which gave $74,500 to Neilson Park, home of the Scarborough Stingers and $35,000 for new dugouts at Eagles Nest Diamond for East Napean Little League. Additionally, Jays Care has committed $1.2 million to 14 future projects.
Neilson Park gets a refurbished Diamond II, a batting cage, pitching machine, grass infield, new mound, two new bullpens and a backstop with a safety screen. Jays Care won the Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence to the team which exhibits grass roots charitable work to promote amateur ball.
50. Dr. Marc Philippon, M.D. (34). A partner at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Col., Philippon is one of the world’s leading orthopedic surgeons. He earned his medical degree on an academic scholarship from McMaster in Hamilton, after initially heading south to play soccer and tennis at the NCAA level on an scholarship. He completed his residency at the University of Miami at Jackson Memorial, then served in Fort Lauderdale.
Philippon joined The Steadman Clinic in 2005 from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he served as director of sports medicine/hip disorders, director of sports medicine/hip disorders fellowship. He has treated over 1,000 athletes including Greg Norman, Mario Lemieux, Alex Rodriguez, Ed Reed, Kurt Warner, Carlos Delgado, LaMarcus Aldridge, Milos Raonic and Sue Bird.
51. Scott Moore, president, Rogers broadcasting, NHL Properties (26). Moore is the reason you get to watch Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun from your living room or stop by and say hello to them down the left field line when the Jays are at home. They broadcast 162 Blue Jays games on Sportsnet or Sportsnet One. Sportsnet usually has a reporter and a cameraman travelling with the Jays on the road. Moore for all that.
We’ve heard the Ryerson grad quote NHL viewership to the minute. He has more than 20 years of experience in the sports TV industry. He is a veteran of eight Olympic Games, five network launches, and 100s of major sports broadcasts as a producer, including the NHL and Stanley Cup final, Junior Hockey and Memorial Cup and Canada Cup.
52. Dave McKay, coach, Diamondbacks (42). McKay followed manager Tony La Russa from Oakland to St. Louis. They were together for 16 seasons. Last year he joined Arizona and this time Hall of Famer La Russa -- and ex-A’s ace GM Dave Stewart too -- followed him to the Diamondbacks.
After leaving the Cardinals, he was with the Cubs in 2012-13. This is the Vancouver native’s 31st year coaching in the majors and his first season as the first base coach for manager Chip Hale.
53. Peter Morris, historian (37). The respected Toronto resident who now lives in Lansing, Mich. All the better to do his sleuthing. The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) has tracked, researched players and their stats for over 40 years. Morris is an expert managing to find Eddie Kolb, a pitcher who gave up 19 runs in his only major-league appearance; Ed Clark, who fought in the Spanish–American War and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery; George Bristow, whose real name was not Bristow but Howlett; and Harvey Watkins, manager of the 1895 New York Giants, who became manager of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
A winner of the Henry Chadwick award he’s written five books: Early Baseball in Michigan (2003), A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball (2006), Level Playing Fields: How the Groundskeeping Murphy Brothers Shaped Baseball (2007), But Didn’t We Have Fun? An Informal History of Baseball’s Pioneer Era, 1843–1870 (2008) and Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero (2009). His mother, Ruth received the Order of Canada.
54. Chris Mears, scout, Boston Red Sox (36). Mears drafted and signed 12th rounder lefty Jalen Beeks from the Arkansas Razorbacks, his teammate lefty Michael Gunn four rounds later and 37th rounder Hector Lorenzana from the Oklahoma Sooners.
Right-hander Jeremy Kehrt, who Mears drafted and signed from Southern Indians in the 47th round of 2008 was traded to the Dodgers.
55. Charlie Wilson director, minor league operations, Blue Jays (52). At times during the season Wilson is like the guy on Sister Wives trying to keep so many people happy. From opening day until June he was to worry about triple-A Buffalo, double-A New Hampshire and class-A Lansing (Dunedin doesn’t complain about winning -- the Jays own the franchise). Then, after the first week of June he has to make sure both class-A Vancouver and Bluefield have enough bodies to compete each night.
This is the Toronto native’s 11th year on this job and he’s as home grown as Pat Hentgen or Orlando Hudson were. He sets budgets, moves Player A to Team 2 and runs spring training -- for four teams. At it’s peak there are 170 players in camp and 50 minor-league staff.
56. Dan Bleiwas, coach, Ontario Blue Jays (71). The Ontario Blue Jays sent 27 players off to school in the fall and for a fourth straight year either tied or led when it comes to having the most Canadian players drafted. Gareth Morgan received the third highest signing bonus a Canadian has ever received ($2 million) behind Jameson Taillon of The Woodlands, Tex. ($6.5 Million in 2010) and Adam Loewen, of Surrey, BC ($3.2 Million in 2003).
They also had Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont., 10th round to Blue Jays), Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke), 22nd, Reds), Zachary Pop (Brampton, Ont. 23rd, Jays), Austen Swift (Etobicoke, 35th, A’s), Michael Foster (Pickering, Ont. 38th, Astros) and Julian Service (40th, White Sox). They had six drafted in 2013, seven in 2012 and the Ontario Terriers and the Ontario Blue Jays shared the lead with four players drafted or signed in 2011. And Bleiwas along with coaches Shawn Travers, Mike Steed, Kyle DeGrace, Joey Ellison and others have another good one in Josh Naylor this June.
57. Doug Mathieson, Langley Blaze (49). The famed Langley Blaze had three current players or grads drafted in Mitch Robinson (Cloverdale, BC), Kurtis Horne (Sooke, B.C.) and Brad Antchak (Delta, BC) plus Zak Miller (Surrey, BC) signed with the Angels as a free agent. Mathieson also took the Diamondbacks Scout Team to Arizona where Gareth Morgan had his best trip of the year before Mariners and Pirates scouts. Also on the team were drafted players Ben Onyshko (Winnipeg, Man.), Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Montreal, Que.), Byckowski, Pop, Swift, two players from Montana, including Gage Hinsz, an 11th round pick that the Pirates gave $680,000 bonus and one from Alazka.
Mathieson scouts for the Diamondbacks while his son Scott Mathieson is closing for the Youmiuri Giants in Japan.
58. Alex Agostino, scout, Philadelphia Phillies (-). Who saw the talent in Russell Martin first? Back when he was infielder? You know Martin ... the guy the Jays gave the highest free-agent contract ever (five years at $82 million). It was Agostino who drafted the third baseman in 2000. Martin didn’t sign, attended Chipola College and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002.
Agostino has been called the John McDonald of Canadian baseball: he’s well liked, respected and can do it all. He scouts for the Phillies, but wear many hats: instructing and coaching the Phillies Scout Team at the East Coast Pro Showcase last July in Syracuse with Canucks Jonathan Martin (Montreal, Que.), Matt Ianni (Ottawa, Ont.) OF Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.) and OF Jean-Francois Garon (Terrebonne, Que.) on his team.
59. Rob and Rich Butler, Ontario Prospects (47). The Butler brothers have elite teams at the bantam-age level and below which gets them in trouble with the OBA eyes. How can you angry with a system that produced Ryan Kellogg, who earned First Team honours on the 15th annual Canadian Baseball Network all-Canadian Team.
Rob Butler has learned a lot about pitching after meeting former Kingston Dunbricks ace right-hander Jim Sprott, who is planning on teaching Elwood Johnston’s nasty screwball.
60. Raimondo Callari, scout, Giants (89). Callari signed Siena Saints lefty Matt Gage of Gloversville, NY, giving him a $138,200 bonus after drafting him in the 10th. Besides Canada he covers New York state where he saw Mariano Rivera, Jr. pitch for the Iona Gaels.
Other than that it was kind of a routine year: he spent four days in San Francisco in October with his pal Felipe Alou and this spring with get his third World Series ring to go with 2012 and 2010. Callari’s three Series rings ties the legendary Bobby Prentice, who won two with the Blue Jays and one with the Tigers, for most by a Canadian scout.
61. Jason Sinnarajah, analytics, Cleveland Indians (54). As a teenager Sinnarajah played against Justin Morneau. The Bond Park grad and family moved to Bellingham, Wash. and in 1995 he faced Morneau’s North Delta Blue Jays. Now he figures ways to get out batting champs like Monreau and others out. The Indians don’t play the Rockies this season.
So the Boston College grad, who worked for Google in Australia, Japan and San Francisco for five years, hired by Indians president Mark Shapiro is an organizational development strategist helping out with sales organization and improving business analytics to make data driven decisions.
62, John Haar, coach, North Shore Twins (-). Haar guided Team Canada to its first gold on the international stage -- at the 1991 World Juniors -- but this list is all about the 2014 calendar year. Right. Well, the coach has been elected to the BC Sports Hall of Fame and will be inducted this summer. Haar is already a member of the UBC HOF for his soccer and football exploits (1999) and was inducted into the HOF in St. Marys as well (2007).
Known as ‘father of baseball’, Haar was an outfielder good enough to be signed twice (Giants and Yankees, reaching double-A in 1958), he ran the National Baseball Institute which kept talented players north of the border. Haar was named Canada’s Coach of the Year in 1991 and the International Baseball Federation’s top coach in 1992. He has two daughters and when asked if he wished he’s had a son always answers “I’ve had 100s.”
63. Ryan Kellogg, Arizona State (58) and Cal Quantrill (-) Stanford. Both won spots on the 15th annual Canadian Baseball Network all-Canadian college team. Both pitch at major programs. Both will be drafted: Kellogg this June, Quantrill in 2016. Kellogg went 8-3 with a 3.76 ERA in 16 starts last spring earning First Team All-Pac-12 honours for the second straight year. Since he arrived on campus, he is 19-4, including 14-1 in conference play. He has seven wins over ranked opponents (three in 2013 and four in 2014).
Quantrill was the first freshman to start for the Cardinal since Mike Mussina. He had a 7-5 record and a 2.68 ERA, holding opponents to a .221 averages and earning Louisville, Perfect Game All-American and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. If Kellogg and Quantrill can succeed at a major program ... others can dream.
64. Jim Baba, director general, Baseball Canada (57). He’s no Erwin Doerksen, but as Saskatchewan exports, go the Moose Jaw, Sask. native has made his way in the world. Literally. The chair of the IBAF tournaments commission, a group in charge of the rules and designs of the IBAF championships.
Baba is an IBAF rep on the review committee for the World Baseball Classic rules. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Hall of Fame as a player in 2009, joining his idol Doerksen.
65. Denis Boucher, scout, Yankees (56). Boucher is usually known for fixing pitchers with control wearing Team Canada uniforms, scouting for the Yankees and keeping the Team Canada dugout calm and peaceful whether the dugout is in Chinese Taipei or in Phoenix. Yet, this year Boucher wore a different hat.
In September he was admired and impressed with his coaching abilities as he guided the Quebec Blue to the second annual Tournament 12 championship at the Rogers Centre led by the likes of Mathieu Denault-Gautier (Candiac), Jason Tarapasky (Pierrefonds), Jean-Francois Garon (Terbonne), Issac Deveaux (Montreal) and Tristan Paris (Gatineau).
66. Josh Naylor, Demi Orimoloye, Canadian Jr. National Team (-). Outfielder Orimoloye is ranked 16th in North America on Perfect Game’s list of top 500 high schoolers heading into the 2015 draft. He plays for coach Tanner Watson with the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians. He was the best player at the Area Code Game at Long Beach.
And Mississauga first baseman Naylor, of the Ontario Blue Jays, who plays for Danny Bleiwas, is ranked 31st over-all. Naylor is ranked by some scouts as the best high school power bat in the draft. Naylor competed in the Junior Home Run Derby at Target Field and lost in the final.
67. Les McTavish, coach, Vauxhall Academy (84). Had one of the Acadmey’s best years ever as grads Justin Clarkson and Chris Thibideau now Midland Chaparrals plus Blinn Buccaneers Jager Toffan reached the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Col.; Jeremie Fagnan of the TCU Horned Frogs was at the College World Series in Omaha, Ben Onyshko was drafted in the 16th round by the Brewers, while Nolan Bumstead, J.P. Stevenson and Onyshko made the Junior National Team.
Brayden Resch and Brett Harrison graduated to North Dakota State, Bumstead is at Cal-State Northridge, Onyshko at Stetson, and Stevenson at Canisius. And there were no less than 17 Jets, including Josh Burgmann, one of the best for the 2016 draft, and two alumni at the second annual Tournament 12.
68. Tom Tango, statistical consultant, Cubs (70). The Montrealer provides whatever bosses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer asks the statistical analysis consultant to provide. It could be running projects to help evaluate players, injury forecasts, three years of weighted player stats with statistical regression and age adjustments. Whatever, teams don’t really say what they pay people to research. He created the sabermetric pitching stat FIP – fielding independent pitching.
In the past the New Jersey resident has worked for both the Mariners and the Jays. He does not go by his real name and is known as TangoTiger on-line. The New Jersey resident co-authored the book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball, and created a web site to help get Tim Raines elected to the Hall of Fame (raines30.com), along with Jonah Keri.
69. Ryan Mittleman, pro scout, video review Jays (-). Sal Butera, longest serving member of the Jays scouting department and Mittleman were responsible for looking at replays, calling bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who then gave the thumbs up/thumbs down to manager John Gibbons whether to ask an umpire for an appeal.
There were struggles a few nights to begin like the night Ryan Goins was picked off (when he was actually safe) which led to one of the better lines of year. Asked why the Jays didn’t ask for a replay Gibbons said “Ah, Sal was watching his son in the Dodgers game.” Umpires said near the end of the season that the Jays were the quickest at adjusting to new replay system.
70. Jon Lalonde, pro scout, Jays (61). The Jays still have the results from Lalonde’s days as a scouting director. Brett Cecil (first round, 38th over-all in 2007) might be the closer if the Jays don’t add someone via trade. Also, Drew Hutchison (15th, 2009), lefty Aaron Loup (ninth, 2009) and second baseman Ryan Goins (fourth, 2009).
Or could free-agent Casey Janssen (fourth, 2004) return if the Jays don’t find a reliable option.
71. Michael Saunders, Blue Jays (-). The Victoria, BC native comes to Toronto with the hopes of being the every day player the Mariners thought he would be. Scouts projected Saunders as having the ability to be a 30-30 player some day. He was bothered by injuries with the Mariners.
There wasn’t anything wrong with Saunders during the World Baseball Classic in Arizona when he won pool MVP honors against the likes of Joe Mauer, David Wright and Adrian Gonzalez, hitting .727 with a homer and seven RBIs in three games.
72. William Humber, historian (72). He speaks on every decade, every era so expertly you get the impression he was born early enough to be a teenager watching the game unfold in 1870, when in fact he’s a young pup. It’s just that he’s knowledgeable, so knowledgeable he gives concise, passionate induction speeches at St. Marys induction ceremonies and has presented papers at Cooperstown gatherings.
His next book will be his 12th. He was the first to track the all-time list of Canadians to appear in the majors in 2001 (not easy task when the National Association, the Federal League, the American and National Leagues). A wonderful wordsmith the director of Eco Seneca Initiatives at Seneca College conducts pre-spring training classes for fans with excellent guests (save for one week).
73. Terry McKaig, coach, UBC (83). The UNC Thunderbirds won the NAIA West title and to the winner went the conference honors. McKaig was selected NAIA West coach of the year by the seven other head coaches. UBC won the postseason NAIA West title and appeared in the World Series finishing the season with a 35-13 record. It was the fourth time he’d won the honor in his 17 seasons coaching.
First baseman Bruce Yari (.356, two, 33), outfielder Bryan Arthur (.301, one, 21) and lefty Conor Lillis-White (9-0, 0.46) joined their coach from Vernon B.C. on the All-NAIA West Group Team.
74. Ryan Dempster, assistant to the president, MLB Network (-). Dempster signed a one-day contract with the Cubs, retired and joined the front office as a special assistant to president Theo Epstein. He spent nine seasons with the Cubs, with a 3.88 ERA, 62 wins and 87 saves in 358 appearances (138 starts).
He did not pitch in 2014 finishing with two all-star appearances, a 132-133 record and a 4.35 ERA in 579 appearances (351 starts). He also pitched with the Marlins, Reds, Rangers and closed out Game 1 of the 2013 World Series for the Red Sox and now is an analyst with MLB Network.
75. Stu Scheurwater, umpire (87). Scheurwater was assigned to the triple-A Pacific Coast League in his seventh season in the minors and the Regina native became the first Canadian to ump to work in the majors since Montreal’s Jim McKean retired in 1999. He made his debut April 25 at Dodger Stadium at the Rockies Jordan Lyles faced Josh Beckett. LA won 5-4 in 11 innings.
In all, he worked 24 major-league games, including five plate jobs. He joined the Canadian national umpiring program in 2000, rose through the ranks and by 2005 worked his first Baseball Canada nationals. The other men of influence in blue are Barrie’s Scott Costello who worked the class-A South Atlantic League and Grimsby’s Dave Attridge who was in the class-A Midwest loop this summer.
76. Matt Higginson, scout, A’s (82). Zero drafts in June, but Higginson is credited for finding the best middle infielder from Canada since Kevin Nicholson (first round, 1997, Padres). Jamieson was chosen in the 17th round in 2011 from Canisius by Higginson. He was dealt to Arizona in 2012 in a 1-for-1 deal for Stephen Drew.
77. Mike Wilner, broadcaster, The Fan (64). We’ve always thought that the toughest job in ball was a travelling secretary ... after an extra-inning loss ... on getaway day ... when the bus arrives at the airport for the coast-to-coast flight only to find that the charter is still four hours away. Millionaires don’t handle that well. A tougher job is handling post-game callers after a bad Jays loss.
Wilner fields them all, does pre-game, pre, pre-game shows, rain-delay shows, post-games and is in the booth when the Jays are at home.
78. Ellen Harrigan, director administration, Dodgers (63). What would have happened had Clayton Kershaw held a 6-1 lead in Game 1 or a 2-0 lead in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals? The Dodgers lefty won the Cy Young and the MVP, but had Kershaw held a lead would Ned Colletti still be the GM?
The Beeton native and former St. Catharines GM is in her 15th season negotiating 10-to-12 major league contracts, writing contracts, tracking bonuses and making sure everyone gets paid correctly, which includes dealing with Latin America scouting director Bob Engle and his tangled mess of expenses. Harrigan's world also consists of knowing NBA star Magic Johnson and having cookies delivered to her desk (after every sellout) and ice cream (if the club increases its first-place lead). It’s the Dodger Way.
79. Blake Corosky, agent, True Gravity Sports (65). Besides representing Newmarket’s Pete Orr, with the Milwaukee Brewers, Corosky has 37 clients including Andrew Albers, of North Battleford, Sask. who returned from Korea to sign with the Jays, Toronto’s Maxx Tissenbaum in the Rays system and Brampton’s Jasvir Rakkar pitching in the Cubs organization,
The Toronto resident has been certified by the Player’s Association since 2006 and doing succeeding the hard way finding, landing and keeping American players: 33 clients are from south of the border with the tip of the ice berg being Nick Evans, who appeared in 18 games with the Diamondbacks, Derek Eitel (5-1, 2.70 at triple-A Reno), Terry Doyle (4-4, 2.93 at triple-A Gwinnett), Carlos Alonso (.272, 10 homers, 44 RBIs at double-A Reading), Andrew Robinson (9-4, 2.45 at double-A Mississippi, double-A Corpus Christi, triple-A Oklahoma City), Dan Gamache (.275, 6, 27 at double-A Altoona) and Cory Aldridge (.310, 26, 93 at New Hampshire, Buffalo and Monterrey).
80. Stubby Clapp, hitting coach, Dunedin (84) A lot of people helped with the rapid rise of Dalton Pompey who started the season at class-A Dunedin. Yet, the only time he struggled was at New Hampshire Pompey credited phone calls with his former hitting instructor one level below which helped him with his slow start.
Buffalo was no problem. Facing big-league pitching was no problem either. But starting 10 games and having 43 plate appearances does not a career make. Clapp knows that. There will be struggles for Pompey. Even Carlos Delgado was demoted after having more home runs than singles (8-7) in his first 21 games of 1994 as an every day player.
81. Claude Pelletier, scout, Mets. (-). The Ste-Lezare, Que. scout is one of senior member among Canadian scouts, starting work in 1987. The scout who signed Cy Young award winner Eric Gagne with the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the second highest high schooler to go pro last year: lefty Kurtis Horne of Sooke, B.C. from the Langley Blaze, giving the 31st rounder a $100,000 bonus. Only Murray Zuk of Souris, Man., of the Padres has scouted Canada longer.
He showed in March at Olympic Stadium to see his Mets play the Jays two exhibition games, but without a ticket. “No problem,” said manager Terry Collins “sit in the dugout.” So there Pelletier sat ... on top of the world for 18 innings. We think it was David Wright who complained he was too quick with the signs.
82. Kevin Briand, scout, Blue Jays (68). The former director of Canadian scouting is now a pro cross checker filing reports on major leaguers. He used to cover both Ohio teams (Reds, Indians organizations from class-A to the majors) but now files report and player evaluations on all organizations.
A Montreal native, he learned his trade with the Jays as their top Canadian scout. He’s still well known coast to coast for he was the man to see for grants.
83. Bill Shaikin, ball writer, Los Angeles Times (66). Baseball involves a lot of waiting. Whether it is a rain delay, lines at airport security or delayed flights. One pass-the-time game, started by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian when he covered the Orioles, was whose the best player you ever covered on an every day basis? Over the years the game has expanded: the manager you enjoyed the most, best boss, the ideal sports department, who you’d hire, etc.
When it comes my turn to answer who would cover the ball team in my mythical sports department I always answer Shakin. Not because he’s a Montreal native but because he’s better than great. He covered ball in Souther Cal since 1989 and for The Times since 1997. He covered the Dodgers bankruptcy hearings in 2011 and the Angels winning the 2002 World Series.
84. Howard Starkman, executive, Blue Jays (-). Part of the success of the Mets-Jays visit to Olympic Stadium was Starkman who worked 16 hour days for a week making sure that the mound was ready, dealing with items as large as the sound system and as small as late concerns from the Mets whether there should be a chain-fence barricade between two bullpens ... due to hard feelings between the two clubs. The Jays and Mets? Fierce rivals?
A day-one employee Starkman retired in April. He was at the game the next night and only missed a handful the rest of the way but a new grand child may change things. Every year since this list began people get upset at their placement (roughly 98 out of 100 and one year No. 1 Beeston was upset because he was not No. 1 every year) or not being on the list. Starkman? He’ll be upset that he’s on it.
85. Scott Secord and Paul Pettipiece, Pointstreak (80). The Chatham, Ont., businessmen continue to roll onward providing info for your league of choice whether it is the Baseball Canada national championships, elite leagues (from the BC Premier League to Quebec Major), college summer leagues (21 loops from Cape Cod to Northwoods) or indy leagues (American Association, Atlantic, Can-Am, Frontier, Pacific, Pecos, United, Mount Rainer).
Their sites carry games, schedules, lineups, live streaming and their main page now carries news stories from the various league they cover. They are always expanding.
86. Rob Jack, social media director, Blue Jays (86). Jack puts together the highly-successful camps across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia and almost all provinces in between. He had a lot to, along with commissioner Robbie Alomar, running Tournament 12.
Duane Ward and T.J. Burton set up camps bringing in the likes of Jesse Barfield, George Bell, Jose Cruz, Lloyd Moseby, Devon White, Homer Bush and Alomar, the star of the show no matter the locale. Jamie Lehman, Jake Paddle, Jon Cram, Jack and Burton were responsible for the behind the scenes work for the successful T12. And he also set up the annual clinic at the Rogers Centre which goes this month.
87. Scott VandeValk, coach, Ontario Terriers (-) VandeValk had two Terriers grads on the 15th annual All-Canadian college team: Stanford Cardinal Cal Quantrill and Odessa Wrangler Simon Clarke. Clarke is transferring to the Northwest Oklahoma State Rangers. The coach has sent 59 players to school plus Travis Seabrooke and Dayton Dawe signed. Grads include Cole Peragine and Toby Handley with the Stony Brook Seawolves, Robert Grilli, Houston Cougars, Mattingly Romanin, Chicago State Cougars, Joel Brophy and Geoff Seto, Niagara Purple Eagles, Jake Osborne, Maine Black Bears, J.D. Yari, UBC Thunderbirds; T.J. Baker, Salt Lake Bruins, Zack Sardellitti and John Palumbo, Davenport Panthers, Mike Morley and Matt Betts of the West Alabama Tigers and Liam Wilson, Northern Colorado Bears.
And starting this spring or next are Luke Tevlin, Binghamton, Robert Wilson, Niagara, Grant Okawa, UMass Amherst, Elliott Curtis, Middle Tennessee State, Christian Lazar, Sioux Falls Cougars and Nathan Lewko Northwood-Michigan.
88. Mike Chewpoy, coach, Victoria Mariners (-). The Mariners sent six players to college programs this year bring Chewpoy’s total to 70: Ty Russell to Alabama A&M, Kelly Norris-Jones, Illinois Hooisers, a former Jays draft, Daryl Blaskovich, Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders, Matt Bryan and Evan Willow, McPherson Bulldogs, Chris Fougner, Salt Lake Bruins, Jake Barnard to Shoreline Dolphins and Colton Wood to Cochise Apaches.
Wood pitched five scoreless innings -- one walk, six strikeouts -- against Panama clinching Canada’s berth at the 2015 Worlds. Two days later, Wood pitched two innings in the win over Mexico to clinch bronze. Chewpoy used to hit ground balls to Michael Saunders who was a third baseman in grade 11 before switching to the outfield ... and the Rogers Centre this year.
89. Scott Crawford, Georgetown, Canadian Hall of Fame (91). The St. Marys Hall had a great year with busier traffic inside the museum, the opening of the new King Field, named after the King Family from St. Marys and the Strategic Master Plan being finalized, with Paul Beeston in charge of fund raising.
The Georgetown native took over early in 2012 after learning at the knee of Tom Valcke and has a similar work ethic. There are now four diamonds on the property.
90. Rob Ducey, hitting coach, Phillies. A year ago at the winter meetings Ducey was hired by the Diamondbacks, but then the Phillies came calling and the offer included an extra six weeks at home since the Phillies train in Clearwater. He was at double-A Reading in 2014.
The Phillies gave him the option of either going back to Reading or working with hitters at class-A Clearwater. Since he lives 20 minutes from Clearwater’s home field, it was a no brainer. There are very few stay overs in the Florida State League because of the close proximity of a number of teams.
91. Jay Lapp, scouting supervisor, Brewers (74). Lapp drafted Ben Onyshko in the 16th round. Milwaukee took Charles Leblanc in 2013. Those two draftees combine to be less than Milwaukee’s 2012 total: Bryan Saucedo, Chris Shaw and Derek Jones, who all were unsigned. His last signs were Dustin Houle of Penticton, BC ($150,000 bonus) and signed Toronto’s Jalen Harris in 2011.
Canada’s other front-office team (GM Doug Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash) has some ground to make up for past Junes when the Brewers would be the most active of the 30 teams drafting Canuck high schoolers.
92. Ryan McBride, coach, Toronto Mets (93). Mets grad Connor Panas earned Third-Team All-American honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association and First Team Canadian Baseball Network all-Canadian First Team honors. Since he’s been coaching 36 players have gone to school. Besides Panas, Johnny Caputo, Stony Brook Seawolves, Michael Foster, Northeastern Huskies, David Marcus and Jack Dennis of the California-Pennsylvania Vulcans and J.D. Osborne of the Polk State Eagles earned all-conference and all-region teams.
Last fall, Rick Leitch and McBride sent Ellis Gerussi-Turner and Zachary Lampreia to the Allan Hancock Bulldogs, Gianfranco Morello to the Northern Kentucky Norse, Alex Lojko to the Ashland Eagles, Evan Webb to the Concord Mountain Lions, Noah Kauffman to the Glendale Vaqueros and Ty Makarchuk to Niagara County Thunderwolves.
93. Jamie Campbell, broadcaster, Sportsnet (95). Campbell lives and breathes baseball, but to use a hockey term he does have to stick handle out of tight spots sometimes when topics on the must-watch, pre-game show with Gregg Zaun get rolling at a fast speed. If it looks like Zaun and Campbell are friends it’s because they are and Campbell brings out the best of Zaun.
Like Jerry Howarth and Buck Martinez, Campbell is always searching for tidbits of information to pass on to his viewers. He’s more than a pretty face.
94. Ryan Armstrong, pitching instructor, The Baseball Zone (98). Not many Canadian pitching instructors learn from big-league pitching coaches? Brent Strom, Astros pitching coach, was a regular for years after serving as a minor-league instructor with St. Louis. Entering his fifth year as pitching coach with the Astros after working for the Royals, he holds a special place in arm rehab history as the second person to ever have Tommy John surgery.
He had the procedure in 1979 and after pitched in 51 games over the next three seasons. When he wasn’t imparting wisdom he’d joke “I’m glad it wasn’t ‘Brent Strom Surgery,’ because then you’d get 22 wins instead of 288.” John won 288 games, Strom 22. Armstrong gives one and all the same care and attention at the Mississauga indoor facility, run by Mike McCarthy and Rick Johnston.
95. Adam Stern, Centrefield Sports (98). Indoor baseball is underway at the peewee level -- six teams playing eight weeks starting Jan 10 -- at the London facility.
It’s also home to the second-year Great Lake Canadians, managed by Adam Arnold. Grads included Mitch Bigras to Boston Eagles, Daniel Marquez to the Evansville Purple Aces, Mike Moffatt to Northern Kentucky Norse and Tristan Clarke to the Eastern Oklahoma Mountaineers.
96. Bill Byckowski, scout, Reds (69). Not a good year when it came to Byckowski signing players north or south of the border as a regional cross checker and director of Canadian Scouting for the Reds. He held the same position for the Jays (1994-2002) and Tampa Bay Rays from (2002-06).
Byckowski signee Morgan Lofstrom hit .215 with five RBIs for the Rookie Class Arizona Reds in 2014. Another sign Brantford’s Brandon Dailey played in 17 games at class-A Dayton. And after the Twins released Guelph lefty Scott Diamond, the Reds added him for triple A Louisville where he appeared in nine game -- making seven starts.
97. Paul Quantrill, Blue Jays (76). Is the only Canadian member of Paul Beeston’s posse which includes Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar, Fred McGriff, Cito Gaston, Pat Hentgen and George Bell, the only man for either Canadian team to win MVP honors.
He checks in on the Jays minor-league affiliates a few days each month.
98. Tom Valcke, iCASE GM (94). The baseball lifer left St. Marys for Stratford to open iCASE, billed as the first academy in Ontario combining training with a full-time academic education for high schoolers in grades 11 and 12. Quebec has 16 sports academies with four more on the way, while Alberta has five and British Columbia three.
Baseball academies are big in B.C., Alberta and Quebec, but Ontario’s first will provide info on college entry procedures, SAT testing, how the draft works, etc.. The former scout served as IBAF technical director at events around the world.
99. Mike Shaw, travelling secretary, Blue Jays (-). Shaw earned travelling secretary of the year honors at the winter meetings in San Diego in a vote by his peers. He was the first Toronto employee to win the award, although the award wasn’t around when day one employee Ken Carson started with the Jays. “If there was,” said Carson last month, “I would have won every year.”
Shaw was a catcher of some renown in the Montreal Junior League and wanted to name his first child Christopher Michael Shaw, after former Expos outfielder Andre Dawson. So he nicknamed him Hawk.
100. Richard Griffin, Toronto Star (-) Griffin is the latest winner of the Jack Graney award as presented by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys. The award goes to a member of Canadian media for contributions to the game and is named in memory of one of the first Canadians to enjoy success in the broadcast booth with the Cleveland Indians.
After working for the Montreal Expos he joined The Star in 1995 and some say has been running (or trying to run) the Blue Jays ever since. He’s a tireless worker coaching sandlot ball in Oakville, first his eldest Matt, who now the Guelph Gryphons and Patrick with the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights. Former Expos broadcaster Roger Brulotte won last year and now Griffin. Could work horse Serge Touchette formerly of Le Journal de Montreal make it three winners in a row with Expo connections?
101. Art Neilsen (Ottawa, Ont.), John Robertston (Gimli, Man.), Elmer Gray (Pittsburgh, Pa.) Jordan Kornberger (Nanaimo, BC), Oscar Taveras (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic); Bob Kulchyk (Mississauga, Ont.), Bob Ferguson (Ottawa, Ont.), Larry Irving (Chemainus, BC) ... Rest In Peace.
Neilsen, 83, founded the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, which produced Dave MacQuarrie, Doug Frobel and Phil Franko to the pro ranks in a nine-year span. At one time his organization spanned five different clubs at different age grous: Babe Ruth, Connie Mack and Stan Musial. He also umpired after he stopped coaching.
Robertson, 79, was one of Canada’s all-time most colorful, sportswriters. He started at Winnipeg Free Press in 1956, moved to the Regina Leader Post and became a lifelong RoughRiders fan, coining the phrase Rider Pride, headed to the Toronto Telegram in 1965 and rejoined the Free Press in 1968. A year later he headed to the Montreal Star and join the Toronto Sun in 1982 and then The Star covering the Blue Jays for eight seasons.
Gray, 91, covered Canada for the Cincinnati Reds for four years in the 1970s as an area scout. Gray ran open tryout camps in Kingston and Ottawa. Doug Frobel, who later signed with the Pirates, was at an Ottawa camp and impressed, but was only in grade 11.
Kornberger, 22, headed to the Douglas College Royals as a catcher, but then playing in his final PBL game, he suffered a knee injury as he tore his meniscus throwing to second. He’d also hurt the same knee earlier sliding. The next year Kornberger bounced back to earn NWAACC All-Conference Gold Glove honors at third base.
Taveras, 22, a Cardinals outfielder who spent his early years in Montreal, and his girlfriend Edilia Arvelo were in the fatal crash in his 2014 Chevrolet Camaro. It crashed between the beaches of Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata, north of the capital of Santo Domingo, near his home. He had a great future, said Giants scout Raimondo Callari, who was watching Game 5 at AT@T when he got the news. “People don’t know what a large Latin community we have in Montreal, everyone in Montreal who has ever met the kid or saw him play is devasted.”
Kulchyk, 60, coached the Mississauga Southwest Twins making three trips to the senior nationals in the previous four years. The Twins were runners-up at the eliminations and won bronze in 2014; they won the 2013 elims and were the runners-up in 2011. His Twins had a regular season record of 83-56-3 (.585 win mark). And in 2006 he was an assistant coach under the wise David Huctwith as Mississauga Southwest won its first national title.
Ferguson, 83 worked for the London Free Press and Ottawa Citizen. He owned the London Majors franchise for two seasons in the 1960s and wrote Who’s Who in Canadian Sport a resource must for libraries, news rooms and any one else wanting a reference guide to check on the best of the best of this country’s athletes. It was published four times with the details on 2,800 athletes and sports figures (in 1985), with a complete listing of national champions, Olympic teams (back to 1904), Canadian Halls of Fame and its members.
Irving, 71, who was involved in the Chemainus, Duncan, Lake Cowichan and Ladysmith area of Vancouver Island, died Nov. 22. He was inducted into the North Cowichan-Duncan Sports Wall of Fame last year and like most volunteers who toil far from the limelight he did not like the limelight.
Honourable mention Luke Adams, Toronto, MLB Trade Rumors.com; Jim Adduci, Burnaby, B.C. Texas Rangers, signed with Lotte Giants; Jeff Amos, Oyen, Alta., Badlands Academy; Alex Andreopoulos, Etobicoke, Ont., bullpen catcher, Blue Jays; Don Archer, White Rock, B.C., scout, Angels.
Adam Arnold, coach, Great Lake Canadians; Ryan Astle, St. Albert, Alta., assistant coach, Bismarck State College; Phillippe Aumont, Gatineau, Que., Phillies; John Axford, Port Dover, Ont., free agent, Curtis Bailey, Red Deer, Alta., scout, MLB Scouting Bureau.
Evan Bailey, coach, Okanagan Athletics; Drew Balen, Edmonton, Inside Edge; Scott Ballantyne, coach, Laurier; Joseph (Elevator Joe) Bednarz, Rogers Centre, Al Bernacchi, Windsor, Ont., coach, Windsor Selects.
Dean Bender, vice president, branding, graphics, logo, set, commercials, Rogers; Denny Berni, Etobicoke, Ont., instructor, Pro Teach; Howie Birnie, Leaside, Ont., Baseball Ontario; Jamie Bodaly, coach, Langley Blaze, Jason Booth, Richmond Hill, Ont., coach, Team Ontario.
Shawn Bowman, Port Moody BC, coach, Canadian Junior National Team; Steve Breitner, Etobicoke, Etobicoke Rangers, Greg Brons, Saskatoon, Sask., Baseball Saskatchewan.; Alexis Brudnicki, London, Ont., Canadian Baseball Network; Scott Bullett, Welland, Ont., Bullett Proof Academy.
T. J. Burton, Ottawa, Blue Jays camps; Dick Callahan, Kitcherer, Ont. Oakland A’s P.A. announcer; Michael Caleb, Vancouver, coach, North Delta Blue Jays, Don Campbell, Ottawa, Ont., director of baseball Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, exalted vice-president of Premier League of Ontario; Al Cantwell, Saint John, N.B., head coach, LSU-Shreveport.
Remo Cardinale, Mississauga, Ont., pitching guru emeritus, Jason Chee-Aloy, Toronto, director of baseball operations, Toronto Mets, Dan Chappel, lead instructor, Edmonton, Alta., St. Francis Academy; Don Charrette, Ottawa, College Baseball Connect; Gregor Chisholm, Saint John, N.B., BlueJays.com.
Dr. Michael Chivers, kinesiologist, Vaughan, Ont.; Voon Chong, Vancouver B.C., trainer, triple-A Buffalo; Logan Clewes, Saskatoon, coach, Saskatoon Yellowjackets; Brad Cochrane, Burlington Ont., assistant coach, University of Buffalo; Gary Cohen, Monteal, The Baseball Cube.
Jeremy Cohen, New York, vice-president, corporate sponsorship & marketing, MLB; Andrew Collier, GM, Winnipeg Goldeyes; Heather Connolly, manager, major league administration, Jays; Dave Cooper, coach, St. Clair College Saints; Melissa Couto, Canadian Baseball Network.
Don Cowan, Delta, B.C. scout, Blue Jays; Jesse Crain, Toronto, Ont., free agent; Greg Cranker, coach, Erindale Cardinals, Colin Cummins, Toronto, director. independent East Coast League, Phil Curtis, Sherwood Park, Alta. Weyburn Beavers.
Shi Davidi, Toronto, Ont. Sportnet; Claude Delorme, Sturgeon Falls, Ont., VP Miami Marlins, Sam Dempster, Kingston, coach, Durham Lords, Team Great Britain; Todd Devlin, London, Ont., Canadian Baseball Network; Jason Dickson, Chatham N.B., vice-president, Baseball Canada; Pierre Dion, Montreal, president, TVA.
Jack Dominico, Toronto, owner, Toronto Maple Leafs; Scott Douglas, Moose Jaw, Sask., coach, Regina Red Sox; Jason Dowse, Cannington, Ont., strength and conditioning coach, triple-A Buffalo; Desi Doyle, Mount Stewart, P.E.I., coach; Coey Eckstein, Abbotsford, B.C., coach, Abbotsford Cardinals.
Dave Empey, North Vancouver, B.C., coach, Vancouver Cannons, Ben Ennis, Toronto, The Fan; Rob Fai, Vancouver, Vancouver Canadians, outstanding MC, former North Delta Blue Jays hurler; Jim Fanning, London, Ont., Blue Jays ambassador, Scott Ferguson, TSN; Jeff Francis, North Delta, BC, Blue Jays.
Mike Frostad, Calgary, Alta., assistant trainer Blue Jays; Orv Franchuk, Edmonton, Alta., Edmonton Prospects, A. J. Fystro, Calgary, Alta., coach, Okotoks Dawgs Academy, Danny Gallagher, Toronto and Bill Young, Hudson, Que., authors of new book, Ecstasy to Agony: The 1994 Montreal Expos: How the Best Team in Baseball Ended up in Washington 10 Years Later, Ted Giannoulas, London, Ont., The Chicken.
Shawn Gillespie, president, Ontario Nationals; Kevin Glew, London, Ont., Cooperstowners in Canada; Bill Green, coach, Coquitlam Reds, Matt Griffin, Oakville, Guleph University; Andrew Halpenny, Winnipeg, Man., scout, MLB Scouting Bureau.
Tim Hallgren, Victoria, B.C., pro scout, Tigers; Jason Hart, Thunder Bay, Ont., head coach, Lakehead University; Jim Henderson, Calgary, Alta., Brewers; Paul Hogendoorn, president, OES Inc. scoreboards, London; Paul Hollingsworth, Dartmouth, N.S., broadcaster, TSN.
Vince Horsman, Dartmouth, N.S., pitching coach, class-A Lansing, Ted Hotzak, president, B.C. Premier League; Cam Houston, St. Albert, Alta. Prospects Academy, Peter Hoy, Cardinal, Ont., coach, St. Lawrence College; Todd Hubka, Claresholm, Alta., Prairie Baseball Academy.
David Huctwith, Mississauga, Ont, president Baseball Ontario; Marc Hulet, London, Ont. Fangraphs; Frank Humber, coach, Corner Brook, Nfld; Michael Hunt, Edmonton, Alta., Moose Jaw Miller Exporess, Forrest Irwin, LaSalle, Que., pitching coach, Post University.
Aaron Izaryk, Markham, Sanford Mainers manager, NECBL; Todd Ireland, Burlington, Ont., assistant head coach, Tusculum College; John Jepson, Toronto, Ont., Toronto Mets, exalted poo-bah, Premier League of Ontario; Ian Jordan, Montreal, Que., Scouting Bureau; Mike Johnson, Sherwood Park, Alta., coach, Canadian Junior National Team.
Rick Johnston, Peterborough, Ont., The Baseball Zone/Ontario Terriers; Brad Jorgenson, Thunder Bay, Ont. owner/GM, Thunder Bay Border Cats, Sam Katz, Winnipeg, Man., owner, Winnipeg Goldeyes; Mike Kelly, Vancouver, BC, coach and development Baseball BC, BC minor, high performance committee; Chris Kemlo, Oshawa, Ont., coach, Toronto Mets 17U, Prep Baseball Report.
Kevin Kennedy, Toronto, Ont., Pitch Talks; Dave Kington, coach, Coquitlam Reds, George Kottaras, Markham, Ont., Chicago White Sox, Mike Kozak, Kirkland, Que., assistant trainer, Marlins; Mike Krykewich, Sanford, Man., coach, University of Winnipeg.
Andre Lachance, Ottawa, Ont., Canada’s women’s coach, Baseball Canada, Pierre-Luc Laforest, Gatineau, Que., manager, Trois-Rivieres Aigles; Joel Landry, coach, Academie Baseball Canada, Michel Laplante, Val D’Or, Que., president, Les Capitales de Québec; Guy Laurence, President and CEO, Rogers Communications.
Maxime Lamarche, executive director, Baseball Quebec; Eric Langill bullpen catcher, Kirkland, Que., New York Mets; Jean-Gilles Larocque, Sudbury, The Baseball Acadmey, Jim Lawson, Calgary, Alta., coach PBF Redbirds; Ken Lenihan, Halifax, N.S., scout, MLB Scouting Bureau.
Marty Lehn, White Rock, B.C. scout, Brewers; Phil Lind, Toronto, vice-chairman, Rogers Communications; John Lott, National Post; P.J. Loyello, vice-president, Marlins, Jeff Lounsberry, coach, Brock University Badgers.
Mike Lumley, coach, London, Ont. London Badgers; Scott MacArthur, Toronto, TSN, 162-for-162 Blue Jays reporter; Drew MacDonald, Bradford, Ont., trainer class-A Lansing; Jacques Lanciault, Monreal, website (jacqueslanciault.com/category/baseball/); Todd MacFarlane, Edmonton, Alta., collector.
Hazel Mae, Sportsnet; Jay-Dell Mah, author, Nakusp, B.C.; Kevin Malloy, assistant clubhouse manager, Jays, Mike McCarthy The Baseball Zone; Murray Marshall, general manager Stoney Creek, Ont., Team Ontario.
Dave Martin, Ottawa, newspaper collector back to the 1908 World Series; John Matthew IV, Ormond, Ont., producer, BlueJays.com; Brooks McNiven, pitching coach, Douglas College, North Shore Twins, Cory Melvin, Tampa, scout, Brewers; Matt Mills, Hamilton, manager Etobicoke Jrs., coach Ontario Royals.
John Milton, Caledon, Ont., Ontario Terriers, Arizona’s International Baseball Consortium, LLC; Tyler Moe, Oakville, Ont., scout, Orioles; Neil Munro, Canada`s stat guru, North Bay, Ont.; Bill Neale, Collingwood, Ont., pitching coach, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Shawn Neale, Collingwood, Ont., assistant coach, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Scott Neiles, Winnipeg, Man., Home Run Sports, coast-to-coast supplier of equipment.
Nancy Newman, New York, host, YES Network; Jennifer Neziol, Toronto, Ont., broadcast decision maker, public relations, Rogers Communications; Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sportsnet; Marc Noel, Miramichi, N.B. Tournament 12 coach; Mike O’Connor, Peterborough, Ont. Wind Mobile, Greg O'Halloran, coach, Mississauga North, Etobicoke Rangers.
Peter Orr, Newmarket, Ont., Phillies; Bill Park, Chatham, Ont., commissioner Great South League summer college loop, Athens, Ga., John Parker, coach, Whalley Chiefs, James Paxton, Ladner, BC, Seattle Mariners, Rob Pegg, Flesherton, Ont., coach, Vanguard University.
Marc Picard, Pickering, Ont., coach, Ontario Youth Team/Windsor Selects; Gary Picone, Trail, BC, athletic director, Lewis-Clark State College; Warren Philp, Thunder Bay, former World Juniors host; Todd Plaxton, Saskatoon, Sask., scout, MLB Scouting Bureau, Anthony Pluta, Victoria, Victoria Eagles.
Jamie Pogue, bullpen catcher, St. Louis Cardinals; Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont., Blue Jays; Mark Polishuk, London, Ont., MLB Trade Rumors.com; Terry Puhl, Melville, Sask. coach, University of Houston-Victoria; Shawn Pynn, Brampton, Ont., head coach, Salem International University.
Al Ready, London, Ont., assistant coach, University of Indianapolis; Morgan Reiter, Regina, Sask. Inside Pitch Acadmey; Chris Reitsma, pitching coach, Canadian Junior National Teamm, Scott Rhodes, coach, Champion, Alta. Lethbridge Bulls, Dave Robb, coach Lac La Biche, Alta. coach, Mesa Community College. NJCAA Div II champs, with Levi Larmour (Oakville, Ont.).
Chris Robinson, Dorchester, Ont., coach, Great Lake Candians; Doug Rogers, coach, Nanaimo, B.C., Nanaimo Pirates; Jamie Romak, London, Ont., Dodgers, signed with Diamondbacks; Mal Roamian, Burlington, Ont., Blue Jays P.R. dept; Jeff Ross, equipment manager, Blue Jays, Jasmin Roy, Longueuil, Que., MLB Scouting Bureau.
Jean Philippe Roy, Quebec City, Que., coach, Brewers scout; Neate Sager, Ottawa, Out of Left Field blog; Ron Sandelli, director of security @ special forces, Blue Jays; John Saunders, Toronto, ESPN; Pat Scalabrini, Sherbrooke, Que., manager, Quebec Capitales.
Trevor Schumm, Edmonton, international scout Pacific Rim, Europe, Latin American cross checker, Padres; Claudette Scrafford, Hawkesbury, Ont., manuscript archivist, Hall of Fame, Cooperstown; Lawrence Scully, East York, Ont., pitching coach, Bradley Uiversity; Meyer Shemtov, Barrie, Ont. scout, Colorado Rockies; Jim Sheppard, coach, University of Toronto.
John Silverman, Montreal, equipment manager, Marlins; Russ Smithson, coach, Port Coquitlam, B.C., White Rock Tritons; Bob Smyth, Ladysmith, B.C., scout, MLB Scouting Bureau; Ryan Snair, Margaret’s Bay, N.S., head coach, Sullivan County Community College; Bill Sobkow, Calder Sask. coach, Yorton Cardinals.
Paul Solarski, Toronto, coach Team Poland; Bernie Soulliere, Windsor, Ont., chef de mission Team Canada; Chris Soulliere, Windsor, Ont., Windsor Selects, Matt Spatafora, Scarborough, Ont., assistant coach Niagara University; Paul Spoljaric, Lisle, Ont., coach, Great Lake Canadians.
Gautam Srivastava, Victoria, BC, Victoria Eagles; Marnie Starkman, Mississauga, Ont., Rogers Centre scoreboard/in-game entertainment; Mike Steed, Burlington, Ont., pitching coach, Ontario Blue Jays; Brandon Steele, London, Ont., assistant coach, Tusculum College; Jay Stenhouse, Blue Jays, Rogers Centre public relations.
Jim Swanson, Victoria, BC, GM Victoria Harbourcats; Jordan Tiegs, Woodstock, Ont., pitching coach, University of Indianapolis, Scott Thorman, Cambridge, bench coach, class-A Burlington; Shawn Travers, coach, Ontario Blue Jays.
Richard Todd, WebBall Baseball Instruction; Pete Toms, writer, bizofbaseball.com; Randy Town, Calgary, Alta., coach Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, Dan Vertlieb, Vancouver, BC, agent; Cam Walker, Winnipeg, Man., head coach, Indian Hills Community College.
Dave Wallace, coach, Parksville Royals; Doug Walton, producer, Sportsnet; Rob Webster, Langley, B.C., coach, Kwantlen College; Shawn Whiteley, Fonthill, Ont., commissioner, independent independent East Coast League; Rob Watt, Chemainus, BC, assistant coach, Mount Olive College.
Cavanagh Whitely, Prince George B.C. Douglas College; Brett Wilson, North Battleford, Sask., owner, double-A West Tennessee, Nigel Wilson, Ajax, Ont., Competitive Edge; Steve Wilson, Victoria, BC, Pacific Rim supervisor, Yankees, signed SS Hoy Jun Park ($1 Million bonus); Andrew Wright, Woodstock, N.B., head coach, Concord University.
Bill Yuill, Medicine Hat, owner, Medford Rogues, West Coast summer league; Murray Zuk, Souris, Man. scout, Padres.