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Short Hops: National Volunteer Week highlights unsung heroes

Short Hops is a weekly look at news and information that is of interest to the Canadian baseball community from the pros to the local sandlots!

Bernie is the definition of ‘volunteer’ – Volunteer Canada is celebrating National Volunteer Week from April 18-24 giving much deserved recognition to volunteers across Canada for the ‘awe-inspiring acts of kindness by millions of individuals AND the magic that happens when we work together towards a common purpose’.

Our sport, of course, survives through the work of thousands of volunteers each summer from administrators, score keepers, coaches, umpires, the list goes on especially given the current world we’re living in. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for everything you do.

If there was a photo next to the definition of ‘volunteer’ in the dictionary, it might very well be of Windsor, Ontario’s Bernie Soulliere. Bernie or ‘Bern’ as he is affectionally known by many has spent a lifetime dedicated to baseball at the local, provincial and national levels.

The 83-year-old led Windsor squads to four Ontario championships and two national championships in the 70’s and was the chair of three World Youth championships hosted in Windsor in 1986, ’87 and 1993. He’s led organizing committees for various national and provincial baseball championships hosted in Windsor including the famous Baseball Ontario Senior “Elims” that annually take place over the August long weekend.

Bernie also served stints as President of Baseball Ontario and Vice President with Baseball Canada working to improve the growth and development of baseball.

Baseball has brought Bernie all over the world from his over four decades as Business Manager with Baseball Canada’s Men’s and Junior National Teams. He’s been to two Olympic Games (2004, 2008), all four World Baseball Classic events and has been a member of the staff when Canada has captured medals at four Pan Am Games (1999-bronze, 2011-gold, 2015-gold, 2019-silver).

Junior National Team players and staff have been fed for years at Florida camps by Bernie and his lovely wife Carol who make daily lunches in between practices and games.

Inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, Bernie has been twice more enshrined into the hall of St. Marys, Ontario as part of back-to-back gold medal winning teams from 2011 and 2015.

Always willing to lend a hand and never one to shy away from a job that needs to be done the baseball world in Canada is a better place with people like Bernie Soulliere.

Votto watch – For those who may have missed it, Joey Votto swatted career home run #299 on Thursday leaving the Cincinnati Reds’ slugger just one shy of the 300 mark. The Reds are in St. Louis this weekend for a three-game series against the Cardinals. To date, just one Canadian has reached the 300 home run feat in Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, BC) who finished at 383.

2025 Canada Summer Games heading to ‘the rock’ – It was announced earlier this week that Newfoundland and Labrador will be hosting the 2025 Canada Summer Games bringing the major, multi-sport games to the province for the first time since 1999 when they hosted the winter version. The last time Canada’s easternmost province held the summer event was in 1977 when British Columbia captured the gold medal in baseball with Manitoba earning silver and Ontario bronze. Niagara region will host the next edition of CSG in 2022 with Saskatchewan coming into the event as the defending gold medalists after winning the Winnipeg-hosted Canada Games back in 2017.