Top 12 of 2012: #5 – 2011 Senior Team inducted into Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
As part of Baseball Canada’s year in review, we are counting down the Top 12 Stories of 2012. Many great stories have occurred over the course of the year and today we take a look at #5.
Baseball fans from all over the country assembled on the grounds of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in quiet St. Marys, Ontario last June to honour the 2012 Hall of Fame induction class, including members of Baseball Canada’s 2011 Senior National Team.
Among those inducted were former Montréal Expo Rusty Staub, Chatham, Ontario native and current Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin, and 16-year MLB veteran and Moncton, New Brunswick native Rhéal Cormier.
Long-time National Team Manager Ernie Whitt addressed the capacity crowd to speak about the accomplishments of the team he led to the gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Mexico and before that, a bronze medal at the IBAF World Cup in Panama.
“So many times we’ve been third down the line or out of the medals,” explained Whitt at the ceremony. “Well I’m going to tell you that last year-it was the greatest.”
Whitt was referring to the victory in the gold medal game that saw Canada score two runs in the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead over the United States and hang on for victory.
The win at the Pan Am Games was Canada’s best result at a major international baseball event at the senior level.
Joining Whitt on stage during the induction speech were players Mike Johnson and Brock Kjeldgaard, Staff members Bernie Soulliere, Keith Sanford and Dave Blatz, Third Base Coach Tim Leiper and Coach and Director of National Teams Greg Hamilton.
Later in his speech, an emotional Whitt recalled how he felt immediately after the historic win and how proud he was of his players and coaching staff.
“We (coaching staff) stood in that dugout in Mexico and we watched our kids get up on that podium and listened to the Canadian National Anthem,” he said. “I was so proud of those kids it was unbelievable.”
A plaque containing a photo of the club along with names of players and staff now has a permanent place in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
For many of these players, winning a Pan Am Games gold medal and being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as members of this club will be a career highlight.
“This championship was like their World Series,” added Whitt. “This wasn’t about an individual or an organization they’re getting paid from-it was about representing their country, their families and you should be proud for every individual that was a part of that team.”
Top 12 Stories of 2012
12. Les Smeyers becomes 20,000th coach
11. Baseball Canada adopts Challenger Baseball
10. Eight umpires at International Events
9. 23 Canadians in MLB in 2012
8. Ontario repeats as Baseball Canada Cup champs
7. Baseball Canada named COPABE Federation of the Year for 2011
6. Women’s National Team wins World Cup bronze
5. 2011 Senior Team inducted into Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
4. To be revealed Dec. 14