Extra Innings – News from the Ball Hall #2

It’s been a fantastic season on the Hall of Fame diamonds and in the Museum. As we head into Fall, we say good-bye to our summer staff and the Museum commences off-peak hours. Between September and October 8, we will be open 4 days a week: Thursday – Saturday 10:30am – 4pm and Sunday 12pm – 4pm. From October 9 to May 5, 2017, the Museum will be closed but may be booked for group tours.

Sarah has been the friendly face greeting visitors most days this summer. The job was a co-op work term related to her Tourism and Travel studies at Fanshawe College and her introduction to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. A Blue Jays fan, Sarah says that Induction Day was the highlight of the summer. “Seeing Fergie and Pat Hentgen, talking to them, brought it all to life.”

The great-grandson of 2005 inductee Charles ‘Pop’ Smith, Rex Abercrombie, and his wife dropped by the other day all the way from Chicago. Chatting with a couple of Museum volunteers, they said how glad they were to have seen Pop’s plaque at long last, as well as Fergie Jenkins’ Cy Young award, and complimented the HOF for its exhibits.

Nicknamed “Pop” because of his signature bushy mustache, Charles Smith is the most successful Nova Scotian to play in the big leagues. After his family relocated to Boston in the 1870s, he evolved into a top prospect and began suiting up for the Binghamton Crickets, an independent pro team, where he earned raves for his fielding prowess and speed.

His major league debut came with the Cincinnati Reds in 1880. Manning second base for the struggling club, Smith topped the Reds in RBIs and triples. After two seasons of toiling with several different clubs, Smith enjoyed his finest campaign in 1883, when he recorded 106 hits for the Columbus Buckeyes and topped the American Association with 17 triples. He followed that up with 106 more hits in 1884, a season in which he also led American Association second basemen in assists.

Baseball has a long reach in some families. Rex mentioned that his Father had lived across the street from Wrigley Field and cleaned seats in exchange for admission to Cubs’ games, while his son played with the London Werewolves, an independent Frontier League baseball team based in London from 1999-2001. He also left a copy of a most entertaining letter penned by Pop’s daughter, his Grandmother, for the Museum archives.

Inductee birthdays in the first half of this month: September 1 -Tom Burgess, September 2 – Dave Shury, September 10 – Bob Elliott, September 14 – Jim Fanning and Tim Wallach.

Players we’re watching: Since the All-Star Break, Canadians Joey Votto (G-42, AVG-.428, OBP-.522, SLB-.690) and Russell Martin (G-33, AVG-.288, OBP-.396, SLG-.559) have been two of the best hitters in baseball.

It’s been a flurry of activity for Baseball Canada ( baseballcanada.com ), with ten national championship series, the most recent held at London’s Stronach Park on the last weekend of August. Congratulations to the Brampton team who won the gold medal in the 13U championship, with host London taking bronze. Let’s hope we hear more from some of these young players in future, especially since the International Olympic Committee has approved the return of baseball and softball to the Olympics in 2020.

Closing note: Our fund-raising bingos at Bingo Country Stratford have resumed after a summer recess. The next one takes place on Saturday, September 10 at 2 pm. We are always looking for volunteers to assist at the bingos. Please call 519-284-1838 if you can help us out.

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