If you are a baseball fan living in Ontario and haven’t been to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, do yourself a favour and check it out. The quiet little town of St Marys, situated an hour west of Kitchener is a picturesque place with quaint shops, century old homes, and large maple and cherry trees.
Early Saturday morning of the induction weekend, I had the opportunity to interview all of the inductees (Click Here To Listen To The Podcast), including Shirley Cheek, widow to the late Tom Cheek, who was also inducted.
Sitting down and chatting with Tim Raines, he shared his opinion on what makes a good leadoff man, and how the game has changed today.
Shirley Cheek shared with me that Tom had dreamed of being a broadcaster from the age of seven. He used to take a recorder to games and practice calling play-by-play. Tom Cheek called 4,306 consecutive Blue Jays games, before taking a day off for his father’s funeral in 2004. Tom passed away in 2005 from brain cancer. For an in-depth look at Tom Cheek’s career, read John Lott’s article here.
Rob Ducey, the only Canadian-born inductee of the group, was polite (as Canadians stereotypically are), soft-spoken, and had a great story about his first day in the big leagues, and some advice that George Bell had for him.
In 1987 he was the AL MVP, the only Toronto Blue Jays to have ever won the award. He had a big swing, and an even bigger personality, which still holds true today. George Bell claims that he can’t quite remember all the details from his 12 seasons in the MLB, but once you get him talking, it becomes apparent that he still has some very detailed memories from his career. This larger-than-life hall of famer was a lot of fun to spend time with.
Following the national anthems being sung by none other than critically acclaimed singer and actor Michael Burgess, Canadian sports announcer and emcee for the day, Rod Black took to the mic and immediately warmed the crowd:
Rod didn’t stop there (it must have been the Red Bull). He delivered a witty and hilarious speech on what it means to be Canadian:
Following the ceremony, my wife and I headed off to the museum to look at the baseball memorabilia.