TORONTO- A capacity crowd of over 200 stood and applauded, as Jeff Francis became the eighth member inducted onto Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence Saturday evening at the 14th annual National Teams Awards banquet and Fundraiser in Toronto.
Francis was joined on stage by fellow Wall of Excellence member, Russell Martin of the Toronto Blue Jays, along with Oakland A’s reliever John Axford and Don Douglas representing the award sponsor, RBC Wealth Management.
Francis, who is retiring as a player after the 2015 season, praised his family, teammates and coaches for their support over his career that spanned 11 big league seasons including a trip to the World Series as a member of the Colorado Rockies in 2007.
The evening also included award presentations to Miami Marlins first round pick Josh Naylor, who picked up the Junior National Team MVP Award after a tremendous performance at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in September; Pete Orr, who was the heart and soul of the Senior National Team in 2015 and scored the winning run as Canada claimed Pan Am Games gold on home soil in July. He was named Senior National Team MVP, presented by RBC Wealth Management; Rene Tosoni, another member of the Pan Am Games gold medal winning team took home the Stubby Clapp Award, presented by Mizuno Canada, recognizing his contributions to the National Team in 2015; Dalton Pompey, of the Toronto Blue Jays was given the Alumni Award, presented by the L.J. Pearson Foundation. Pompey played on the Junior National Team in 2010 before making his big league debut in 2014; Andrew Yerzy, was presented with the third annual Canadian Futures Award, presented by the Toronto Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Yerzy was busy in 2015 playing with the Junior National Team and also found time to participate and win the MLB Junior Home Run Derby in Cincinnati before taking home MVP honours from the Under Armour All-America game where he homered at Wrigley Field; Tyler O’Neill, a Seattle Mariners prospect and another member of the Pan Am Games squad, clubbed 32 home runs for High-A Bakersfield and was awarded with the Special Recognition Award, presented by the MLBPA; Adam Loewen, who made yet another return to the big leagues in 2015, was given the Special Achievement Award, presented by MLBPA. Loewen reached the big leagues in 2006 as pitcher before an arm injury forced him to try his hand as a hitter. He reached the majors as an outfielder in 2011 before returning to the mound in 2014 where he made it back to the big leagues as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015.
In addition to those mentioned above, Baseball Canada alumni Joey Votto, Michael Saunders, Chris Reitsma, Chris Leroux, Paul Quantrill, Chris Robinson, Jamie Romak, Adam Stern, Ernie Whitt, Stubby Clapp, Andrew Albers and Mike Soroka were a part of the awards presentation that was emceed by Blue Jays Radio Voice, Mike Wilner.
Baseball Canada would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the alumni, corporate partners and friends who attended. We look forward to seeing you next year on January 14th, 2017!
Photos – 14th Baseball Canada National Teams Awards Banquet & Fundraiser