By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Up until my mid-teens, he channeled his inner Mickey Mantle to hit me countless fly balls down Thames Crescent in Dorchester, Ont. And I chased them pretending to be Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby or Dale Murphy. He’s a kind, quiet, patient, gentle and responsible man who has literally given me the shoes off his feet on more than one occasion. He’s my handyman, my accountant, my Toronto Blue Jays co-analyst and most importantly, a tremendously supportive dad. I’m blessed to have Ralph Glew as my father and I’m grateful that I’ll be able to watch the Toronto Blue Jays game with him this afternoon.
· It’s without question the best Father’s Day moment in Blue Jays history. Eight years ago, John McDonald returned to the Blue Jays with a heavy heart five days after delivering the eulogy at his father Jack’s funeral. As one of his final requests, McDonald’s father asked his son to point up to him after he touched home plate following his next home run. The Blue Jays’ smooth-fielding shortstop, who averaged less than two home runs a season, promised he would, but he cautioned his father that it could take a long time. Magically, in his first bat after his father’s death, McDonald belted a pitch from San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt over the left-field wall at Rogers Centre on Father’s Day. You can listen to McDonald recount the story of the home run here.
· The next time you see Scott Crawford or Jocelyne Gall from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame or Adam Stephens, Jeremy Diamond, Tammy Adkin, Lynn Hainer, Harry Gundy or any member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame board of directors, please stop and give them a pat on the back. I’ve attended 23 inductions in St. Marys, Ont., and there has never been a year with more challenges and adversity. Between inductee Pedro Martinez canceling (due to a medical condition) days before the ceremony, Kelly Gruber’s unfortunate appearance at the Pitch Talks event on Thursday, all-time great Fergie Jenkins unable to attend for personal reasons and the rain on Saturday, the Hall of Fame staff and its volunteers still pulled off an outstanding event that drew a near capacity crowd. Having worked closely with the Hall on a number of events, I’ve never been prouder to be associated with this institution.
· “It’s one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.” That’s how long-time Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder Lloyd Moseby described the honour of being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to Mark Hebscher in an interview earlier in the week. And Moseby proved that with one of the most emotional and humble induction speeches that have ever been delivered at the event. Twice during the speech, Moseby told the audience that he didn’t feel he deserved the honour, which provoked one fan under the tent to yell out, “We love you Shaker.” Moseby told the audience he was watching the Golden State Warriors play when he first got the call from Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame board member Mike Wilner to let him know he was being inducted. Moseby declined the honour twice feeling he wasn't worthy, but a determined Wilner bombarded him with advanced stats to prove to him that he deserved the induction. “He’s talking about WAR and WHIPs and whatever. And I said, ‘Don’t send me anymore stats!'” But it was when Moseby told his daughter, Alisha, of the honour and the way she got so excited that convinced him to relent and accept the honour. His daughter was at the ceremony on Saturday. Moseby, who was born in the U.S., considers himself Canadian. “I was born in Arkansas, raised in Oakland, but my home is in Canada,” Moseby said to conclude his speech.
· One of my favourite parts of Moseby’s speech was the impromptu tribute he made to Canadian Paul Hodgson (Marysville, N.B.) who was at the event. Hodgson played with Moseby in Rookie-Ball in Medicine Hat in 1978 and then with the class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays in 1979. “When I saw him I thought it was a ghost at first,” said Moseby about reuniting with Hodgson at the induction ceremony on Saturday. “I love Paulie. Let me tell me this about him. He had a canon. He had a better arm than Jesse Barfield.”
· Moseby’s fellow inductee and Canadian baseball historian Bill Humber also gave an inspiring acceptance speech on Saturday. I wrote a story about Humber that you can read here, but he had one of the best lines of the day. “My friends used to joke that as a historian I wouldn’t be interested in the result of the game we were at for another 30 years. But that joke isn't as funny as it used to be."
· As noted on Thursday, former Montreal Expos superstar pitcher Pedro Martinez, who was also to be inducted, was unable to attend the event due to a medical condition, but he did record a message to his Canadian fans. You can watch a video of his message below.
· Congratulations to former Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame board chair John Starzynski who was named the winner of the Randall Echlin Lifetime Volunteer Award, which is given out each year by the Hall. In his close to two decades of involvement with the Hall, which includes multiple terms as the board chair, Starzynski has given selflessly to the project. He has played a leading role in helping the Hall achieve its fundraising goals and helped lay the groundwork for the recently completed addition to the museum. He has also donated hundreds of items from his personal collection that have been sold to raise money for the Hall and has represented the organization at countless events, including presenting the Jack Graney Award and the Tip O’Neill awards.