LEGENDARY SINGER MICHAEL BURGESS PASSES AWAY
By Scott Crawford
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
Longtime friend and supporter of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Michael Burgess passed away on Monday night after a long battle with cancer at the age of 70.
His involvement with the Hall of Fame began in 2002 when he hosted a fund raising concert for the museum at The Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ont. Almost every year since that concert, Burgess had performed passionate versions of the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at the Hall’s annual induction ceremonies. The beloved singer and actor was also a regular participant in the Hall’s celebrity golf tournaments and London Salutes Canadian Baseball breakfasts.
“Michael Burgess was a tremendously talented actor and singer, a passionate Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame supporter and most importantly a wonderfully kind and generous man,” said John Starzynski, chair of the Hall’s board of directors. “I think his breathtaking performances of the national anthems at our annual induction ceremonies were as widely anticipated as the inductee speeches.
“We will miss Michael’s voice, his warmth and his generosity, but we will never forget him.”
Burgess was also known for singing the national anthem at other sporting events, including Toronto Maple Leafs games, and on Oct. 17, 1992, when the Toronto Blue Jays were facing the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the World Series at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, he became the first person to sing “O Canada” at a World Series game.
Burgess was best known for his role in the Toronto production of Les Misérables, where he played the character of Jean Valjean 1,000 times during the show’s run. The year-long production opened at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre on March 15, 1989. He also sang in La Boheme, and so many other memorable shows and for 25 years Michael sang the national anthem at the renowned Brazilian Carnival Ball.
Burgess sang the national anthem at the opening of the Olympic Games in Spain in the summer of 1992 and he was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal and, in 2012, he received the Order of Ontario.
He began his career at the age of eight as a student of St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto. From the Choir School he went on to study at The University of Ottawa, and it was there that he discovered a deep desire to sing and perform.
Deepest sympathies are extended to his family, son Jesse, mother Dolly Burgess and siblings, Wayne, Missy, Cathy, Bill, Patty, Julie and their families.
Funeral arrangements for Canada’s National Treasure sees the family receiving friends at the Church of The Blessed Sacrament, 24 Cheritan Avenue (one block south of Lawrence Avenue) from 10-11:30 a.m. Monday, October 5. The Funeral Mass will follow the visitation in the church at 12:00 noon on Monday, October 5.
He will be laid to rest Monday in Sarnia.
The family is requesting charitable donations on behalf of Michael to , a cause near and dear to his heart.
Condolences and memories may be forwarded.