Hong Kong – No stranger to Asia, as St. Marys resident Tom Valcke has taught baseball to coaches and players in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong over the past 30 years, the coach of George Brown College has taken a sabbatical to become the head coach of Hong Kong’s national team for the next seven months, through the Asian Cup and Asian Games’ competitions that lie ahead this summer.
The Hong Kong Baseball Association has identified a stable of potential players, and Valcke will evaluate and train them on a daily basis from March through July, then select the final roster to represent HK when they travel to Indonesia for the Asian Games in August and then host the Asian Cup in September.
“It seemed like China and Hong Kong developed some momentum leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and the global baseball community was excited that the world’s #2 (Japan), #3 (Korea), and #5 (Taiwan) were going to be further challenged intercontinentally,” said Valcke from his office at the newly opened Pinnacle Fieldhouse Training Academy in Stratford.
“Then, when China upset Taiwan in extra innings, everybody from me to Major League Baseball thought that would secure a surge of baseball interest over here, but when the IOC dumped men’s baseball and women’s softball as Olympic Sports following those Olympics, the uprising flat-lined and nothing represented their position more clearly than when they bull-dozed those two stunning stadiums in Beijing,” added the former Canadian Supervisor who established the MLB Central Scouting Bureau in Canada.
But with the reinstatement of baseball for the 2020 Olympics slated for Tokyo, both China and Hong Kong have renewed their respective interests in baseball, leading to the hiring of Valcke.
The former president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is comfortable getting on planes, having taught in 22 different countries, and served multiple times as the head coach of the annual World Children’s Baseball Fair. The “I” in his iCASE Baseball Academy stands for “International”, and in just four years of growth leading up to its current state of hiatus while he kicks the tires in Hong Kong, he has had students enroll from not only different corners of Canada, but also from Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and The Netherlands.
Valcke, who can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, was recognized recently at a gala in Los Angeles by Baseball USA, the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and Major League Baseball International for his efforts towards the globalization of baseball: http://baseballhalloffame.ca/news/valcke-recognized-for-global-baseball-efforts/
The CBC Radio Canada baseball analyst and CBC TV analyst for Little League broadcasts, who called games for the Canadian Baseball League as well as serving as TV analyst for the Montreal Expos in their final season, has his name in the hat for Jerry Howarth’s radio play-by-play job with the Blue Jays too.
“Well, if Rogers came knocking to talk about that opportunity, wouldn’t that be the most pleasant of problems to have?,” quipped Valcke.