Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame set to induct diverse 2016 class

It’s one of the most diverse inductee classes in the 33-year history of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ex-Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen and former Montreal Expos hurler Dennis Martinez will be inducted into the St. Marys Hall in a ceremony on Saturday, June 18 at 1:00 pm, along with trailblazing Canadian scout Wayne Norton (Winnipeg), long-time Blue Jays executive Howard Starkman (Toronto) and early Blue Jays TV analyst Tony Kubek, who’s unable to attend. Baseball pioneer William Shuttleworth (Brantford) will also be enshrined posthumously. The ceremony will be emceed by Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner.

“We’re proud to honour such a diverse class. Each of the new inductees has made a significant contribution to baseball in Canada in their own unique way,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “We’re looking forward to celebrating their careers in St. Marys on June 18.”

The induction ceremony will be part of a festival of events that also included a home run derby and celebrity slo-pitch game (yesterday), the Hall’s 20th annual celebrity golf tournament and banquet (today) sponsored by TD Bank and a Downtown Family Baseball Street Festival on Water Street (June 18, starting at 9:00 am).

2016 Inductee Bios

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Pat Hentgen

Born in 1968 in Detroit, Hentgen has been part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization as a player, coach, ambassador or special assistant for 26 years. The intense right-hander was selected by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 1986 MLB amateur draft. He saw his first regular big league action with the club in 1992 when he pitched 28 games, primarily out of the bullpen, for the franchise’s first World Series-winning squad.

The following season, he was inserted into the rotation and blossomed into an all-star, registering 19 regular season victories and winning Game 3 of the World Series to help the Blue Jays capture their second consecutive championship. Then, the 6-foot-2 righty evolved into the club’s ace. After being selected to his second all-star game in 1994, Hentgen won 20 games and topped the American League in innings pitched (265-2/3), complete games (10) and shutouts (3) in 1996, becoming the first Blue Jay to win the American League Cy Young Award. In 1997, he led the AL in games started (35), innings pitched (264), complete games (9) and shutouts (3). In 10 seasons with the Blue Jays, Hentgen registered 107 wins (fifth-most in franchise history). He also ranks fifth all-time amongst Blue Jays hurlers in games started (238), innings pitched (1,636), strikeouts (1,028) and shutouts (9). After hanging up his playing spikes, he returned to the Blue Jays to work as a spring training instructor. He’d later serve as a team ambassador, and as the club’s bullpen coach. He’s currently a special assistant with the team.

“When I was told the news about being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I thought, ‘What an honour!'” said Hentgen. “I’m looking forward to a great weekend.”

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Dennis Martinez

Born in 1954 in Granada, Nicaragua, Martinez recorded 100 wins (second-most in franchise history) in parts of eight seasons with the Montreal Expos from 1986 to 1993. The durable right-hander also ranks second all-time amongst Expos pitchers in games started (233) and innings pitched (1,609) and third in strikeouts (973), complete games (41) and shutouts (13). Nicknamed “El Presidente,” Martinez was the first Nicaraguan to play in the major leagues, and when he tossed a perfect game on July 28, 1991 – the only one in Expos history – the club’s play-by-play man and 2014 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dave Van Horne famously quipped “El Presidente, El Perfecto.”

During his tenure with the Expos, Martinez was selected to three all-star games (1990 to 1992) and in 1991, he topped the National League in ERA (2.39), complete games (9) and shutouts (5). In his eight seasons with Montreal, he posted a combined 3.06 ERA and won 10 or more games seven times and 15 or more four times.

Martinez was traded to Montreal on June 16, 1986 after accumulating 108 wins in his first 11 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. Also registering 100 wins for the Expos, Martinez became one of only 10 pitchers to reach the century mark in wins in both the National League and American League. He finished his 23-year major league career with 245 victories, which ranks 52nd all-time.

“I felt so great to hear this news to be inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame,” said Martinez. “It’s a great honor for me to share this award with my family and the Canadian people. This is something that I will hold onto for the rest of my life. I am very appreciative of the Board of the Hall of Fame for recognizing my accomplishments throughout my baseball career. I look very forward to the day of the induction.”

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Wayne Norton

Born in 1942 in Winnipeg, Norton played in 1,206 minor league games – including five seasons in Triple-A – primarily as a centre fielder, before becoming a trailblazing baseball executive and scout in Canada. In the mid-1970s, Norton founded and established Baseball Canada’s Junior National Team and he became a long-time coach and manager for the organization, while doubling as a part-time scout for the Montreal Expos. He also managed Canada’s Pan Am Games team in 1975, prior to helping to launch Baseball B.C. two years later. In the late 1970s, he was enlisted to create and write Baseball Canada’s first coaching manuals and many of the guidelines from those are still employed today.

In 1986, Norton established the National Baseball Institute (NBI) in Vancouver and hired 2007 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee John Haar to be the first coach. The NBI evolved into the best baseball academy ever created in Canada and is often cited as the standard for similar facilities. Among the NBI graduates to play in the big leagues are 2015 Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Matt Stairs (Fredericto) and Corey Koskie (Anola, Man.), as well as Paul Spoljaric (Kelowna) and Rob Butler (East York).

After leaving the NBI in 1994, Norton evolved into one of Canada’s most respected baseball scouts. Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Pat Gillick hired Norton to scout for the Baltimore Orioles from 1996 to 1999 and when Gillick accepted the Seattle Mariners’ general manager position in 2000, he brought Norton with him. Norton has served as a scout for the Seattle Mariners since 2000 and has signed several Canadians, including Michael Saunders (Victoria), Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau), Tyson Gillies (Vancouver) and Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.). For his excellence in scouting, Norton was named Mariners’ International Scout of the Year in 2007 and Canadian Scout of the Year by the Canadian Baseball Network in 1998 and 2013.

“The phone call informing me of my induction made me very happy,” said Norton. “It will certainly be an honour to be included in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I am extremely grateful to my friends who nominated me, and to my baseball colleagues and family who supported my nomination. Their regard means a great deal to me. It is gratifying to have my contributions to baseball in Canada recognized and valued by my peers and acknowledged by the selection committee. I look forward to what promises to be a fantastic couple of days in St. Marys!”

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Howard Starkman

Born in Toronto in 1945, Starkman has spent four decades as an executive with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was initially hired as director of public relations on July 4, 1976 and he served in that capacity until 1998. In that role, he was in charge of media relations, broadcasting, travel and team publications. He was also responsible for the club’s “Name the team” contest prior to the inaugural season that resulted in the Blue Jays name.

Starkman also played key behind-the-scenes roles in the Blue Jays’ first games at Exhibition Stadium and the SkyDome and in their playoff and World Series appearances through 1993. He doubled as a public relations official for Major League Baseball for 15 World Series and 10 All-Star games. For his efforts, he was presented with the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Robert O. Fishel Award in 1995, an honour that’s bestowed annually for excellence in public relations. Six years later, he was honoured with a 25-year service award from Major League Baseball.

In 2014, the Blue Jays established the Howard Starkman Award and named Starkman the first recipient. This award is handed out annually to the Blue Jays Employee of the Year “who best exemplifies the values of integrity, innovation, accountability, team work and a passion for winning.”

“I am truly honoured to be selected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Starkman, who continues to serve as a consultant with the Blue Jays. “I have been with the Blue Jays for 40 years and it is beyond belief and very gratifying that my contributions are being so recognized. It is very humbling and I’m proud to be included with so many illustrious players, executives and baseball dignitaries who have meant so much to baseball in Canada.”

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Tony Kubek (Unable to attend)

Born in Milwaukee, in 1935, Kubek won three World Series as a shortstop with the New York Yankees between 1957 and 1965 before becoming a popular broadcaster for NBC. He spent 25 seasons behind the mike for the network and called 11 World Series and 10 All-Star games, as well as the Saturday afternoon “Game of the Week.” Along the way, he teamed with legendary play-by-play men like Jim Simpson, Curt Gowdy and Bob Costas.

The Toronto Blue Jays were fortunate to land Kubek as an analyst on their TV broadcasts in 1977 and during his 13 seasons in the booth for the club, he educated tens of thousands of Canadian viewers on CTV and TSN about the sport. On top of the insights he could provide as a former player, Kubek’s no-nonsense style and quick and extensive analysis made him one of the best and most respected analysts of his era. While with the Blue Jays, aside from his analysis, he was one of the first broadcasters to ask to communicate with the director in the production truck to suggest camera shots during the game that would improve the broadcast.

For his efforts, Kubek was the first broadcaster to work exclusively as a TV analyst to win the National Baseball of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence in 2009. He was also the first Ford C. Frick Award winner to have called games for a Canadian team. Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Tom Cheek (2013) and Dave Van Horne (2014) have also since been honoured.

After he left the Blue Jays, Kubek served as an analyst on New York Yankees games on the MSG Network for five seasons, prior to retiring in 1994.

“Overwhelmed, in a positive sense,” said Kubek when asked about how he felt about his induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. “Unexpected, because I was doing exactly what I’ve loved doing for much of my life, playing, watching and talking baseball. I had flashbacks of watching a young team being transformed into a winner. I’m grateful for being accepted by Canadian baseball fans, and for this wonderful honor. When I was asked to consider the job with the Blue Jays, I talked to Elston Howard, a teammate and great Yankee, who starred with the Triple-A, International League Toronto Maple Leafs. He said, ‘You gotta take it, they’re the best fans, a friendly city; they know their baseball.’ Ellie was right.”

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William Shuttleworth

Born in Brantford in 1834, Shuttleworth has been called the “Father of Canadian Baseball.” His contributions to baseball in Canada have come to light in recent years thanks to research by noted Canadian historian Bill Humber.

When Shuttleworth was living in Hamilton, in 1854, he organized Canada’s first formal baseball team, which was called the Young Canadians of Hamilton. From 1854 through the 1870s, Shuttleworth was a driving force behind the sport in Canada and he served as vice-president of the first Canadian baseball organization in 1864.

As founder of the Young Canadians, he transitioned the team from the old Canadian rules – 11 players on each team, two-inning games – to the New York rules (which are essentially the rules of today’s game) in 1860. But Shuttleworth was not just an organizer, he was also a catcher and leadoff hitter who participated in the second-ever international baseball game in 1860 which took place a few weeks after the first game that featured a rival Hamilton team. While he was still active as a player, he doubled as the president of the Young Canadians (the team changed its name to Maple Leafs in 1862) from 1860 to 1871.

Shuttleworth was also a member of the Ontario team (Hamilton and Guelph players) that finished third in a major Detroit baseball tournament in 1867. Shuttleworth also umpired important games throughout the 1860s, including a Guelph-Woodstock championship match in 1868.

Shuttleworth eventually moved to Geneva, N.Y. in 1893 to live with his son. He passed away on March 31, 1903 and is buried in Hamilton. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

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