With the good weather of recent days, the sight of our beautiful ballfields free of snow has gladdened the hearts of more than a few local baseball fans. As many visitors say, CBHFM’s four diamonds are truly fields of dreams, conjuring up visions of the season ahead. It’s shaping up as a good one.
In addition to the Induction Weekend, our 32-acre site will host more than 900 events this year. In May, the Blue Jays Honda Instructional Clinic returns, as well as the Scotts Pitch Hit Run skills contest. In the summer, we will be home to the Ontario Nationals and the Ontario Expos elite baseball programs, plus host several teams from Quebec, Ottawa, Windsor and Toronto.
But Spring Training is underway now! At least one of our Board Members, Blue Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner, is Florida, while David Morneau will be off to Arizona on a package he picked up at Ferguson Jenkins’ annual charity golf tournament.
Our own Celebrity Golf Classic and Banquet takes place on Friday, June 23, 2017. Registration has been brisk, with more than 50% of available slots sold to date. The tournament’s an excellent opportunity for you to join three friends on the golf course with one of our invited celebrities. Confirming their attendance so far are Roy Halladay, Vladimir Guerrero, Fergie Jenkins, Steve Rogers, Pat Hentgen, Pat Gillick, Paul Beeston, Don McDougall, Billy Atkinson, Larry Landreth, Greg O’Halloran, John Upham, Howard Starkman, Ray Carter and Team Canada members. If your foursome or individuals are interested in joining this illustrious crowd, contact the Hall of Fame at 519-284-1838 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Induction Weekend actually kicks off in Toronto this year with a new event set for the evening of Thursday, June 22 at the offices of Miller Thomson (2 km. east of Rogers Centre). This fund-raiser, called “The Opening Pitch”, offers another chance to rub elbows with Inductees, past and present, and to listen to a Q &A about their baseball experiences. Tickets will go on sale soon (watch this space).
Bits and pieces: The son of 2017 Inductee Vladimir Guerrero – Vlad Jr. – is the Blue Jays’ top prospect. Signed at the age of only 16, this 6’ 1”, 200-lb. outfielder was born in Montreal and will no doubt attract a lot of attention this spring in Florida.
Baseball Canada notes that there are 20 Canadians in big league camp this year. Of these, 10 are on 40-man rosters, including two players on each of the Blue Jays (Russell Martin, Dalton Pompey) and Phillies (Nick Pivetta, Michael Saunders), while the Athletics (John Axford), Cubs (Rob Zastryzny), White Sox (Brett Lawrie), Mariners (James Paxton), Reds (Joey Votto) and Cardinals (Rowan Wick) each have one.
March 6 marks the kick-off of Round 1 of the 4th World Baseball Classic (WBC) in Seoul, Tokyo, Miami and Jalisco, Mexico. Team Canada has one of the more interesting rosters in the tournament and Canadian viewers will get a preview of the the squad when Sportsnet broadcasts their game against The Blue Jays on March 7 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
Then it’s down to WBC business when Team Canada plays its first game against defending champs Dominican Republic on March 9th. (Sportsnet at 6 p.m.) Taking the field for Canada for the first time are the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman and retired big leaguers Ryan Dempster and Éric Gagné, who thrilled fans in Ottawa last September when he pitched for the Can-Am League Ottawa Champions. Justin Morneau and Pete Orr will be participating in their 4th WBC. Russell Martin, while not playing for the national team, has received permission to help from the dugout. We’ll be watching.
Recommended: The Canadian Baseball Network’s latest podcast interview with another Team Canada pitcher, Andrew Albers. Available through iTunes.