Martinez, Hengten St. Marys bound with Kubek, Norton, Starkman, Shuttleworth
By Bob Elliott
It was as if Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame voters attempted to trace the history of the game when it came selection time.
Six men will be inducted June 18 in St. Marys and the lineup looks like this:
_ The late William Shuttleworth who was born in Brantford and is considered the Father of Canadian baseball starting the Young Canadians in 1854.
_ Wayne Norton, of Port Moody, B.C., created BC Baseball in 1975, came up with the idea of the Canadian Junior National Team and formed the National Baseball Institute before turning to scouting.
_ Howard Starkman, former P.R. man with the Jays and now a vice president, was hired in 1976.
_ Tony Kubek, the CTV broadcaster who educated Canadian fans for the first 13 years of franchise’s existence.
_ Dennis Martinez, who pitched 23 seasons, including eight with the Montreal Expos, retiring in 1998.
_ Pat Hentgen an anchor of Blue Jays glory days rotation and an employee for 26 years.
So the time line goes from 1854 to the 1960s, to Exhibition Stadium in 1977, to Dodger Stadium in 1991 for a perfect afternoon and to the SkyDome in 1993.
Now, voters could have extended the time line to 2015 and Ajax, Ont. but they didn’t. Team Canada rallied in extras to win gold over USA. A gold medal in the past for a Canadian team used to mean automatic entrance the way 300 opened the doors to Cooperstown.
Shuttleworth was the patriarch of Canadian ball founding the first Canadian league in 1864.
The line moves forward to when Norton was signed by the Yankees and assigned to class-D St. Petersburg in 1961. The Yanks were in St. Pete’s at the start of the year and finished it at Candlestick Park with Kubek at short as Willie McCovey made the final out.
Norton retired in 1971 and became involved in amateur ball. He said baseball like other sports has seen athletes improve over the years.
He thanked his friend Pat Gillick for spearheading his nomination and complimented Jr. National Team coach Greg Hamilton “for really improving the program and giving more opportunities to more people.”
Kubek, a close Gillick friend, was doing the Saturday NBC Game of the Week when Jays president Peter Bavasi called asking if he wanted extra work.
The former Yankee shortstop said Elston Howard, Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams and everyone else he spoke to had high praise for Toronto. He was also inducted into the Polish-American Hall with Stan Musial. Kubek said he enjoyed the Toronto jazz scene, even met B.B. King.
Kubek was not planning on making the drive to the Seattle Mariners class-A Midwest League city when the parent club with manager Lou Piniella and Gillick stopped by for an exhibition game. Gillick told Kubek: “either you show up at the park or our bus is pulling into your lane.” Kubek showed.
Starkman said he “never thought of being in Hall of Fame,” since he “never swung a bat or pitched a ball.” He was happy and humbled to be recognized.
Asked his memorable time Starkman picked 1976 before a game had been played before the team been named as the one the most interesting, invigorating times.
“We had 34,000 entries in name the team contest,” Starkman said. “We send the list to media members, brought the number to 10 and the names went on to the board of directors. There were 144 submissions of the name Blue Jays.”
A draw was held and the winner was given a trip to Florida.
“We wanted to get blue into the name because the Leafs, University of Toronto and Argonauts all had blue and tied in with Labatt, one of our sponsors, and Labatt Blue,” said Starkman, who was asked where Hentgen rated among the difficult players he had to deal with other the years.
Said Starkman: “He was the exact opposite of David Wells.”
Kubek told Martinez while he was nicknamed “El Presidente” his help might be needed with a White House candidate talking about building walls.
“I was so grateful to be traded to the Expos (from the Baltimore Orioles), to a different country, a different culture,’’ Martinez said.
“That was my second chance. They treated me so good in Montreal. I was so happy to play there. People took me under their wing.’’
Hentgen watched the Jays from Fraser, Mich.
“I remember growing up and remembering pitching battles between Dave Stieb and Jack Morris,” said Hentgen, who as a high schooler cheered for the Tigers, but after Don Wilkie selected him in the fifth round in 1986 he switched rooting interests.
He became the first Jays pitcher to win a Cy Young award.
BRIEFLY: The Blue Jays added outfielder Darrell Ceciliani from the New York Mets in exchange for a player to be named. The Mets designated Ceciliani after signing free agent Yoenis Cespedes.
Ceciliani, 25, hit .206 with one home run and five steals in 39 games -- 13 starts -- for New York. He hit .345 with 19 doubles, nine homers and 36 RBIs for triple-A Las Vegas. He had a .978 OPS.
SECOND HALL: Dennis Martinez was in the sunshine of Miami
All of a sudden Tuesday afternoon he had the chills.
Someone had asked about his perfect game in 1991 when the Montreal Expos visited Dodger Stadium.
“I pitched that game in L.A. but to share it with my people in Nicaragua is something I will never really forget,’’ Martinez said. “It was an unbelievable feeling, a day I will never forget. Every time I look at the video of the game, I’m living a dream.
“It happened 25 years ago but it feels like yesterday.”
Martinez, the first major-leaguer from Nicaragua, was 100-72 with a 3.06 ERA in eight years. He hopes Montreal gets another team.
“To me,” Martinez said, “it’s a beautiful city, it’s a baseball city. We need to have that team in Montreal. I can’t give enough credit to Larry Bearnarth. I remember him saying ‘Dennis, I don’t have tell you everything and anything, you are a veteran.”
Inductees bio boxes
Position: Blue Jays special assistant.
Born: Detroit, Mich.
Canadian content: Drafted fifth round 1986 with Jays, pitched 1991-99, 2004. Was 107-85, 4.28 in 270 games. Fifth all-time in Toronto wins behind Dave Stieb (175), Roy Halladay (148), Jim Clancy (128) and Jimmy Key (116) ... Bullpen coach under John Farrell ... Has been with the Jays 26 seasons.
Career: Cy Young award winner 1996, three-time all-star, two time World Series winner ... 131-112 lifetime, 4.32 ERA in 344 games, pitched 14 years.
Position: Former Blue Jays broadcaster.
Canadian content: Worked Jays TV twice a week from 1977-1989 and was the most knowledgeable man in the booth we’ve ever heard.
Career: Presented Ford C. Frick award in 2009 in Cooperstown ... Becomes third announcer elected to St. Marys joining Tom Cheek and Van Horne, both former Frick winners ... Played nine seasons with the New York Yankees, won three World Series,
Position: Former Expos pitcher
Born: Granada, Nicaragua.
Canadian content: 1986-93 with Expos going 100-72 with a 3.06 ERA in 239 games ... Pitched 11th perfect game in big league history at Dodger Stadium in 1991 leading to Dave Van Horne’s call after the final out “El Presidente, El Perfecto.”
Career: 245 career wins, 3.70 ERA, 2,149 strikeouts with the Baltimore Orioles, Expos, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves ... Elected to Orioles Hall of Fame.
Position: Canadian and European scout, Seattle Mariners.
Canadian content: Played triple-A Vancouver 1966-68, scouted high schoolers in Canada for Orioles and Mariners ,,, Scouted and signed Michael Saunders, Tyler O’Neill, who was the Mariners minor league player of the year in 2015, first rounder Phillippe Aumont, Gareth Morgan, who earned a $2 million US bonus in 2015.
Career: Played 10 seasons in the minors. Managed Team Canada in 1975 Pan Ams ... Wrote Baseball Canada coaching manual. Founded National Baseball Institute ... Few Canadian scouts had more success having Italy’s Alex Liddy, Holland’s Greg Halman and Saunders on Baseball America’s top 10 list the same year.
Position: Formed the Young Canadians of Hamilton in April 1854.
Born: Brantford, most likely in 1834.
Canadian content: Considered the Father of Canadian Baseball by William Humber and no one other than Humber could hang a tag like that on someone and have it stick ... Canadians home grounds faced Central School, between Bond and Bowery streets.
Career: Transformed game from Canadian rules – 11 players on each, two-inning games – to New York rules (essentially today’s rules) in 1860 ... Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Position: Vice president, Blue Jays.
Canadian content: Blue Jays employee since 1976, Mississauga resident.
Career: Earned Robert O. Fishel award in 1995, bestowed annually for excellence in public relations. Honoured with a 25-year service award from Major League Baseball six years later ... Retired last April but has missed only a handful of games. Sits nightly with Paul Beeston in their Level 300 bunker. If Beeston is Harold Ballard, Starkman is Conn Smythe.