It’s August and activities at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are in full swing. The diamonds are alive with baseball, fastball and slo-pitch games.
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 30 when teams from Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Toronto and the Ontario Terriers Under-18s take to Cement Field for a triple-header starting at 10 a.m.
In inside action, our Museum is impressing visitors with the depth and breadth of the collections on display. On a recent Sunday we hosted “coast-to-coast” visitors from Newfoundland and Vancouver. Others making the trip to St Marys have hailed from London and Calgary, Montreal and Fort McMurray, Tucson, Boston, Port Richey, Florida and Prague, Czech Republic. Their comments in the guest book tell us how much they’ve enjoyed their visits: “Amazing!”, “Loved it once again.”, “So much history, wonderful!”, “Great!”.
But it’s the face-to-face interaction with our volunteer guides that is most rewarding. So many people have personal connections to the players honoured by the Hall and they are delighted to talk about them. Sometimes there are tears, as when the granddaughter of a player for the Vancouver Asahi came unexpectedly upon her Grandfather’s baseball jersey.
The Asahi played from 1914 to 1941 and were inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2003. As noted on our website, they played the “brain ball” brand of baseball, stealing bases with abandon and dropping bunts with the accuracy of pool sharks. Playing home games at Vancouver’s Powell Street Grounds, The Asahi were a source of pride for Japanese Canadians. Sadly, however, 1941 was the team’s last carefree summer. Early in 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government interned all people of Japanese descent, confiscating their property and uprooting their lives. The Asahi never played together again.
In other news, we’re celebrating the birthdays of a number of inductees this month: August 1- George Sleeman, August 4 – Doc Younker, August 8 – Doug Melvin, August 11 – Ron Roncetti, August 12 – Bob Prentice, August 22 – Pat Gillick, August 25 – Dave Van Horne, August 28 – Goody Rosen and August 31 – John Ducey.
Inductee Harold “Doc” Younker passed away at the age of 94 in February of this year. Doc was a trainer in amateur and professional baseball for more than 50 years. A former U.S. army private, he landed his first job as a trainer in 1954 with the Vancouver Capilanos. He would serve in a similar capacity with the Seattle Rainiers the following year, before returning to Vancouver to work with the Pacific Coast League Mounties in 1956. He landed his first big league gig as a relief trainer with the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and would later serve as the head trainer with the San Diego Padres from 1976 to 1985.
At the amateur level, Younker dedicated countless hours to Canada’s national teams, tending to athletes at the Olympics, Pan-Am Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Intercontinental Cups. He also worked for the National Baseball Institute and the University of British Columbia. In recognition of his many years of service, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Thanks to CBHFM member and Canadian baseball blogger Kevin Glew for the following item: The Cincinnati Reds have posted a graphic on social media showing how much the performance of Etobicoke’s Joey Votto has improved since the beginning of the season. On June 1, Votto’s on-base percentage (OBP) was .330 (54th in the National League). By July 1, his OBP had improved to .378 (15th in the National League). After his 1-for-4 performance on August 6, Votto’s OBP was .419, the best in the National League.
North Battleford, Saskatchewan native Andrew Albers has been called up to the big leagues by the Minnesota Twins. Andrew pitched in the big leagues with Minnesota in 2013 and Toronto in 2015. In 2016 Andrew has won 9 games with a 3.51 ERA over 19 starts for AAA Rochester.
For more on Hall of Fame inductees, events and highlights, go to our website: baseballhalloffame.ca . You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. Kevin Glew’s blog is at cooperstownersincanada.com.