Tagged: george bell

2014 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Induction & Events

Hall of Fame 2014

Hall of Fame 2014

This week signifies two very important things: The first day of Summer (finally!), and the Induction Ceremony for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (which falls on the same day). What better way to kick of the season?

I had the pleasure of attending the induction ceremony last year, and interviewed Rob Ducey, George Bell, Tim Raines, who were all being inducted into the 2013 Class. I also connected with Shirley Cheek, who was accepting the induction award on behalf of her late husband, Toronto Blue Jays’ broadcasting legend, Tom Cheek. More on that here.

This year, the festivities span several days, offering something for the whole family. The Hall of Fame is proud to announce this year’s inductees: Tim Wallach, Dave Van Horne, Murray Cook, & Jim Ridley.

The 3x Gold Glover was also a 5X All-Star, and 2x Silver Slugger

Tim Wallach was a 3x Gold Glover, a 5X All-Star, and 2x Silver Slugger

Van Horne was the Expos announcer for 32 years!

Van Horne was the Expos announcer for 32 years!

Murray Cook was the GM of the Yankees, Expos, and Reds

Murray Cook was the GM of the Yankees, Expos, and Reds

Jim Ridley was a player, a scout, and a coach

Jim Ridley was a player (Milwaukee Braves), a scout (Tigers, Jays, Twins), and a coach (Olympics, Pan Am Games)

The events kick-off on Thursday, July 19th with a celebrity softball game, which I’m honoured to have been invited to participate in (obviously as media, not as a celebrity!). The teams will be represented by Tim Wallach, and Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins. Other celebrities include Dave Van Horne, Murray Cook, Jim Fanning, Paul Spoljaric, Billy Atkinson, many other notable former professional players, as well as representatives from Team Canada Fastball. There will also be a Slo-pitch homerun derby.

I was discussing past celebrity games with the Director of Operations of the HOF, Scott Crawford, who outlined one of his favourite memories from just a few years ago being Larry Walker hitting a homerun out over right field corner wall. Last year Tim Raines and George Bell played. This year there will be even more celebrities. This is an event you don’t want to miss!

Friday (June 20th) is possibly the busiest day of the week. The day kicks off with the 4th Annual “London Salutes Canadian Baseball” fundraising breakfast, sponsored by Lerners Lawyers and the London Convention Centre. There with be a Q & A with the celebrities, a live auction, and O’Canada by Canadian legend Michael Burgess. Also in attendance will be George Bell, Devon White, and Duane Ward.

Later that morning is the 18th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic & Sports Banquet. The list of incredible celebrities is way too long to list, but include the likes of Tom Henke, Tony Fernandez, Paul Beeston, and Babe Ruth’s Granddaughter Linda Ruth Tosetti. There is a banquet following the tournament, and tickets can be purchased separately as well.

Finally, Saturday June 21st kicks off with a Baseball Family Street Festival from 9 am to Noon, with a variety of events for kids of all ages. The induction ceremony starts at 1 pm, with a Blue Jays Honda Super Camp following, at 3 pm, where youth will get the opportunity to receive baseball instruction from Duane Ward, Devon White, and George Bell. I attended the Guelph Honda Super Camp, more on that here.

If you needed any more reasons to attend, this year is very special in that the inductees cover all facets of the game of baseball. Tim Wallach played for the Expos for the majority of his career, Dave Van Horne was an announcer for the Expos for 32 years and now covers Marlins games, Murray Cook is a Canadian who was the General Manger of the Yankees, Expos, and Reds, and Jim Ridley was a scout from 1976 – 2002. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame continues to build and expand, and is well worth the drive to St Marys.

For more information click here, or call the Hall of Fame directly at: Phone: 519-284-1838, Toll-free: 877-250-2255

Jays Honda Super Camp Guelph

Devo gives batting instruction

Devo gives batting instruction

The Toronto Blue Jays Honda Super Camps kicked off this past weekend, starting in Guelph, Ontario. Boys and girls between the ages of 9-16 had the opportunity to attend the two or three-day baseball camp and receive instruction from George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Devon White, Roberto Alomar, and Sandy Alomar Sr. I connected with a Jays rep and discussed the camps, and also spoke with an employee from the Royal Distributing Athletic Centre, where the camp was held. You can hear those interviews and more, here.

Robbie Alomar works on fielding drills

Robbie Alomar works on fielding drills

HSC-bell HSC-Sandy HSC-Shaker HSC-Shaker2HSC-Devo2

 

In a recent blog post I wrote for Model Sports Fan, I discussed why I thought that Colby Rasmus might not be a Blue Jay too much longer. I went into more detail about this in my latest podcast.

 

 

 

Blue Jays Greats Interview Highlight Reel

Carlos Delgado’s Training Day: Interviewing Roberto Alomar, Cito Gaston & More

Carlos Delgado Extra Bases Foundation Training Day.

Carlos Delgado Extra Bases Foundation Training Day.

Click here to listen to: Brock Picken interview Carlos Delgado, Roberto Alomar, Cito Gaston, Duane Ward, and many more.

Carlos Delgado was named to the Toronto Blue Jays Level of Excellence on Sunday, September 21st, 2013. So how did he celebrate? By hosting a training camp the following day at the Rogers Centre, in support of his Extra Bases Foundation, which strives to “improve the quality of life of people in need”. Joining Carlos, was a well-recognizable group of former Blue Jays greats.

Listen to the interviews that Brock Picken conducted with:

  • Carlos Delgado
  • Roberto Alomar
  • Cito Gaston
  • Shawn Green
  • Duane Ward
  • George Bell
  • Juan Guzman
  • Alex Gonzalez
  • Candy Maldonado
  • Lloyd Moseby
  • Tony Fernandez

 

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame 2013 Inductee Interviews – Tim Raines, Shirley Cheek, Rob Ducey, & George Bell

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

Click here to listen to: Brock Picken interview Tim Raines, Shirley Cheek, Rob Ducey, & George Bell

Brock Picken talks with 2013 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees at the Induction Ceremony in St Marys.

Tim Raines talks about what it takes to be a great lead off man, and the significance of his 808 stolen bases.

Shirley Cheek talks about Tom’s passion and dedication to the game, and what it would mean to him to be inducted.

Rob Ducey talks about his time in the big leagues, and as a rookie some “choice advice” George Bell gave him.

George Bell talks about his memories during his days with the Blue Jays, and his 1987 MVP season.

Click here to read my blog post about the day.

 

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2013

2013 Induction Ceremony

2013 Induction Ceremony

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.

Hall of Famer Tim Raines

Montreal Expos Speedster Tim Raines

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.

Shirley Cheek, wife to the late Tom Cheek

Shirley Cheek, wife to the late Tom Cheek

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.

Former Blue Jay & Expo Rob Ducey

Former Blue Jay & Expo Rob Ducey

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.

1987 AL MVP George Bell

1987 AL MVP George Bell

INDUCTION CEREMONY

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:

Rod Black, Hall of Fame Inductees, Cito Gaston, Tom Henke

Rod Black, Hall of Fame Inductees, Cito Gaston, Tom Henke

Following the ceremony, my wife and I headed off to the museum to look at the baseball memorabilia.

Induction Ceremony Bats

Induction Ceremony Bats

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

Tom Cheek Induction Ceremony Plaque

1940's Pitching Machine

1940’s Pitching Machine

Jackie Robinson Memorabilia

Jackie Robinson Memorabilia

My Wife Marta with the home plate Joe Carter crossed following his 1993 World Series winning walk-off home run.

My Wife Marta with the home plate Joe Carter crossed following his 1993 World Series winning walk-off home run.

Meeting Jesse Barfield – My Most Embarrassing Moment as a Fan

Jesse Barfield Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays Jesse Barfield

For many kids, when you fall in love with the game of baseball you have your favourite players, and maybe even a hero. Growing up a Blue Jays fan in the 80’s, you could pretty much take your pick from the roster for great players. My favourite was Jesse Barfield.

Jesse was a gold glove winner (’86 & ’87), an All-Star in 1986, and had a heck of an arm from right field. He was an exciting player to watch, he hit big home runs, and had charisma (today we’d call that swagger).

This past summer (2012) my younger brother Kyle and I had an opportunity to meet Bell, Moseby, and Barfield at an autograph signing at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. I wanted to think of something special to have signed by arguably the best outfield the Jays have ever had, and after much deliberation, decided on a program from 1985:

Blue Jays Drive of '85

The Drive of ’85

You see, it had to be something much more special than a baseball card (although I love my autographed Pat Borders card) or a baseball hat (although I love my autographed Joe Carter hat). As I was going through my various Blue Jays collectibles, I came across something unique and special. It was a baseball card in a plastic holder, from a Jays-Yankees game, Sept. 17th, 1990. The case reads “I helped break the Major League attendance record”. I started reminiscing about the game, and remembered it well (surprising since I was only 10 years old when I attended that game). I remembered sitting down the third base line in the 100-level (tickets were only $15 then!). I remember much of my family attending. And I had a distinct memory of Jesse Barfield hitting a home run that game…while wearing a Yankee uniform (he had been traded the season prior). I checked online, and sure enough my memory served correctly. While I still had my mind set on having the program signed, I decided to bring the ticket along anyway (as well as a few baseball cards – more on this later).

Kyle and I lined up on Yonge street, and just made it inside the Jays Shop before they stopped letting people in. Now here’s the important thing to remember about this story: there was a very strict rule about having ONE autograph per player. It totally makes sense, they want to get through as many fans as possible.

The guys were sitting behind tables, George Bell signing first. We made small talk, but George was already talking to the other guys about getting some Chinese food afterwards. My brother followed me, and pulled a clock out of his bag to get signed. Bell seemed impressed with the clock.

The Shaker was next. We talked golf a bit. He was quiet and polite, as you would expect Moseby to be.

Then I got to Barfield. He signed the program and we started chatting. I pulled out the ticket and started talking about the game. His eyes lit up, and he said “I remember that game, I hit a home run off Stottlemyre”. He then commented that he got nothing to hit the rest of the game (I checked online, sure enough he had four walks that game). Jesse said “take that ticket out of the case, let me sign it for you”.

Jays Yanks 1990

Jays Major League Attendance Record Breaking Game 1990

Now, all I had to do was say thank you and walk away. I had already exceeded the autograph quota. Had a great conversation with a Jays All-Star. My favourite player. But obviously I didn’t just walk away. Otherwise there wouldn’t be an embarrassing story here, would there?

Remember those baseball cards I mentioned? At this point I thought it would be a good idea to pull them out. But not to get signed. I had to ask Jesse if he had really said what was quoted on the back of the card. Ok, let me back-track a bit.

When I was in Grade one, I started collecting baseball cards. My mom’s friend’s husband (are you still following?) was a local firefighter. In the mid 1980’s, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs teamed up with the Toronto Star and a couple other organizations to produce Blue Jays cards. And on the back of the cards, were fire safety tips incorporating baseball terms. And they were REALLY CHEESY. For example: FIRE SAFETY TIP – Lloyd Moseby says: “Don’t foul your outlets by using too many extension cords.” George Bell says: “Don’t get caught out in left field. Be sure you plan your escape.” And my favourite, Jesse Barfield says: “Be defensive against fire…And win a gold glove.” What? There’s no way Jesse said that. I wanted to ask him if he actually said that. I mean, it was only 26 years ago. Of course he would remember. Really, I just wanted to tease him a bit. I mean, we were practically best buddies at this point…

Only, as I started to read the quote on the back of the card, three things happened:

1. My brother who had patiently been waiting his turn, put the clock down in front of Jesse, who said “Wow that’s a really cool clock man”. Instantly distracted and now not listening.

2. George Bell started yelling at Jesse, “Dude you’re holding up the line! It’s lunch time. Hurry up Jesse!”

3. A lady with a clip board (yes, a clip board!) stepped in towards me and said, “Sorry sir, it’s a one-autograph maximum. I’m going to have to ask you to move along.”

I immediately looked like the crazy dude who brought his entire baseball collection to get signed. And it doesn’t matter what you say, or what your intentions are. When a woman with a clip board asks you to “move along”, you instantly look like a doofus. I think when I asked Jesse if he had “actually said that?”, his response was “I don’t know man”. He clearly hadn’t even heard what the crazy guy with the baseball cards was muttering about.

Jesse Barfield

Jesse Barfield

Fire Safety Tip

Fire Safety Tip

My brother’s clock that everyone loved. I must admit, it’s a pretty awesome clock.

What time is it? Time to play baseball!

What time is it? Time to play baseball!

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here. Maybe you can tell me what you think it is. I just hope that one day I get to chat with Jesse again, this time while holding a microphone and doing an interview. Maybe I’ll even ask him for some fire safety tips. Besides, I’ve discovered people pay way more attention to you when you hold a mic…but you’re not even reading this now are you? You’re still busy looking at that damn clock.