March 14th: One of the Greatest Moments of my Life … Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

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Oh yes!  On Saturday I got to touch the same plate that Joe Carter crossed when he hit the World Series winning homerun in 1993.  It was an enormous rush of shear ectasy and elation, as I touched the ledgendary plate.  For a minute, I relived that homerun all over again.  It truly was one of the greatest feelings I could ever have.  In this picture, you are witnessing one of the greatest moments in my history, along with Canadian Baseball History.   

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This is a good picture my girlfriend caught.  I’m saying, “Can I touch it?” to the tour guide accompaning us through the Hall.  I even have my hand out shaking as I say it – imagining the beautiful moment that my hand was about to encounter.  Phew, what a day!!!

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame houses many interesting pieces of baseball history in Canada.
   I couldn’t think of a more perfect follow-up to my previous post, where I lashed out at an American writer that generalized all Canadians into having a lack of respect/committment towards baseball.  The St. Marys, Ontario site has many reasons why Canadians, or even Americans, should feel proud to be a fan of the great game.  Some of the information our tour guide, Scott, through at me was amazing.  You would be amazed to hear that Babe Ruth hit one of his first pro homeruns in Canada, that Ruth credited a Canadian with making him the hitter that he was and that Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in Canada playing his first pro game in Montreal.  Canada is where Hall of Fame coach, Sparky Anderson, honed his managrial skills, it is where Tommy Lasorda PLAYED most of his career, and it is where baseball ledgends like Fergie Jenkins, Tip O’Neil (hit somewhere near .425 in the late 1800’s) Larry Walker and George Selkirk (the player that replace Babe Ruth in right field for the Yankees) were born.  The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is a magical place, smaller and with noticeable less assets, but equally as impressive as Cooperstown in my estimation.  Here are some of the highlights from my trip:

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The outside of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is similar to a house in the town of St. Marys.  This adds to the nostalgia and historic atomosphere of the building.

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Here I am in the actual Hall.  Not only are Canadians recognized here, but others with contributions to Canadians Baseball History – such as, Joe Carter, current Blue Jay manager Cito Gaston, Tony Fernandez and Cooperstown Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, to name a few.

 
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“Fergie was the man!” from the words of my tour guide.  He is a Canadian Baseball icon, and an excellent pitcher in his time.  Fergie Jenkins was the prototypical finess pitcher.  He won 20 games seven different times, along won the Cy Young in 1971.  He won 20 games in six straight years from 1967-1972!!  Yes indeed!  He was the man, and has his own section in the Canadian Baseball Hall!     

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Home plate taken away from the last game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal was a sad thing to look at.  The Expos have a large feature exhibit in the Hall.

 

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Equally as sad was this glove from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  Knowing that baseball may be taken out of the Olympics is what made looking at this a difficult thing for me.  I have loved cheering for Canada in the Olympics, where hometown stars like Stubby Clapp and Peter Orr emerged.  A great number of the international competitions that Canada competed in are featured here in this exhibit. 

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My girlfriend, who was taking the pictures, saw this as one of her favorite exhibits.  It is chubby Expo bobblehead along with the Expos display.  The cuteness of this bobblehead lives on, even after the fallen Expos franchise.               

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Among the many great displays, was a number of pieces from the short-lived 1940’s women’s league that was featured in the movie, “A League of Their Own.”  A large percentage of the players in that league were actually recruited from Canada, many might not know. 

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My girlfriend loved the pink uniform.  This exhibit was very well done.

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On the right:  Tip O’Neil is a ledgendary Canadian member of the CBHOF.  He played in late 1800’s and put up astronomical numbers.  The Tip O’Neil Award is given to the most outstanding Canadian baseball player every year.  On the left:  Jack Graney was the first major league player to appear in a game with a number on his uniform.  He later became the first major league player to become a broadcastor.  The Jack Graney award is presented periodically to journalists deemed to have made notable contributions to promoting baseball in Canada.

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Member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and one of the greatest Blue Jays to ever put on the uniform has his own section here.  Tony Fernandez is the all-time Jays leader in hits, he has come back to play for the Jays three different times and has always been an exciting fan favorite.  With his looping, but deadly accurate sidearm throws from shortstop, #1 Tony was definately one of my favorites.  I got a little excited over this display.

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Here is some Blue Jay Bling, Bling!!!  Hope that you weren’t blinded.  Don’t worry, I will get our healthcare system will cover it.

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Larry Walker and Justin Morneau are the only two Canadians to win MVP awards.  They are honoured here in this section.  More current Canadian players are recognized here.  There is a lot of neat Justin Morneau stuff, like the first bat he used in the majors, a Canadian Cooper made bat FYI.

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I wore my replica Brooklyn Dodgers jersey here because I knew that they had a great exhibit for Jackie Robinson.  Like I mentioned before, Jackie played his first pro game in Montreal.    

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The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario also hosts a number of minor baseball tournaments, and other games of all kind.  They have a MLB sized field with lights, and beside one field, are donated seats from the old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.  I sat in a couple, and it brought back memories from when I was a kid.        

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We topped off the day a the Hall of Fame, the best way I know how.  With a portabello burger loaded with cheese, and a side of sweet potatoe fries from a restaurant called the Creamery in St. Marys.

There is so much to see in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I could not possibly fit it all in one blog post.  If you love baseball in Canada, general baseball history and want a really cool place to visit, St. Marys and the CBHOF provided me with that and more!!  They do guided tours, and the people there have loads interesting of information. 

Anyway, this trip made my week, it made my month, it made my year!!     

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27 comments

  1. rockymountainway

    “Can I touch it” hilarious. I admit I’d probably feel the same way if it was like the Rockies plate Holliday slid across or something similar. Awesome post Homer. That’s cool you had a great time and for sure you’re a lucky guy to have a girlfriend to be there with you. Thanks for sharing. Most people don’t know Walker is the only Rocky to win the MVP too btw.
    Tom
    http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

  2. nick.10@hotmail.com

    Was also fortunate enough to go to the CBHOF, and could have easily spend days in there. Wow, what a great spot in St. Marys, yet it is (unfortunately) not known about around the area. I guess I came off with the same impression you did (one of the best days of your life) of the CBHOF, with the exception of getting to play on the nicest minors diamond in the province 😀
    PS: Congrats on the MLBlogs top 100, well deserved.

  3. welikeroywelikeroy

    Nick,
    Thanks for the kind words. As a baseball fan, you could not help but love that place. If I were actually playing in a game there, I agree St. Marys would even be that more special. For any one living in Toronto, St. Marys is the place to go to escape from big city living. The town is beautiful, quiet and filled with things to do.

    Julia,
    You don’t have to tell me twice about about the importance of baseball history. In North America, this game has followed and arguably influenced generations. That influence is abundantly positive and it is important to reflect on.

    Kaybee,
    There was a lot of cool stuff to look there. I wish that I could have got in a picture with everything I saw!

    Tom,
    I bet most people don’t know George Bell was only Blue Jay MVP too. Walker is the all-time leading Canadian in homeruns. He is being inducted into the CBHOF this year with Ernie Whitt. June 16th is the induction ceremony, and I’d like to go back!! Thanks for saying my girlfriend is special, she reads this, and is special.

    Canuck,
    It was so much fun!! I would highly recommend it.

  4. crazy19canuck

    I should take my hubby there. Maybe the baseball gods can come down and teach him the basics! He’ll just have to put up with me stopping at almost every exhibit! I really liked the Expos exhibit pics…and the girls league. Oh, and Joe Carter’s homerun is still by far my favorite homerun of ANY world series!
    Canuck
    http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

  5. Jane Heller

    So great that you got to go to the Canadian HOF and thanks for sharing the pix with us. One of these days I hope to go to Cooperstown – I say that every year – and see the “other” HOF. What a thrill! Oh, and I had no idea that some of the women portrayed in “A League of Their Own” were Canadian, so thanks for that too.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  6. popejonash

    Heya,I studied in upstate New York at SUNY Plattsburgh, so the Expos were my adopted team for a year. They were about an hour’s drive for me and the old Olympic Stadium still holds a special memory for me because it’s where I saw my first ever live game – Braves-Expos and Chipper and Andruw went back-to-back. I’ve never been to the Canadian HoF but Cooperstown is truly amazing. Thanks for sharing those pics.Ashhttp://ashleymarshall.mlblogs.com

  7. Cockroach

    Oh wow – a fantastic day indeed! It’s always been a dream of mine to one day visit Cooperstown, but if I was Canadian, I’d have been just as excited over this as you were. I have fond memories of watching the Blue Jays’ WS titles on TV as a kid, and I hope Toronto makes it back there someday. I’ll take Jays & Rays over BoSox & Yanks any day!
    http://ledzeb99.mlblogs.com

  8. crzblue2

    Wonderful, just wonderful! Reading this and watching the pictures I could feel your excitement. This love for the game is what some people that are not fan cannot understand. Being a Dodger fan, I knew about our Jackie playing in Canada and also Tommy. Tommy played in Canada, US & Cuba. thanks for the trip down the museum! Where exactly is it?
    .
    I love sweet potatoe fries! love the pink uni! I have a picture taken with 4 ladies that played in the 1940’s . One of them is them is the one that was played by Madonna. they were at one of the WIN baseball clinics at Dodger Stadium.

    Emma
    http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

  9. welikeroywelikeroy

    Canuck,
    I cannot express to you how cool it was to touch that plate. I couldn’t nearly fit all the exhibits in this blog, but if you go there with your husband, you won’t be disappointed.

    Jeff,
    Glad I could help. Your Carter story with your dad was the kind of moment that made that hit so special.

    Jane,
    I forget what it was, but it was a large percentage of the players that came from Canada. Cooperstown is much bigger, I could spend a lot of time in there as well.

    Hey Ashley,
    I’m suprised how many people in upstate New York visit Montreal on a consistant basis. Maybe its low drinking age?? The game I went in Olympic Stadium, I saw Curt Schilling throw a complete game for the Phils. I was pretty young. The Big O did have some appeal, especially the mascot Yupi! I loved that guy!

    Cockroach,
    Glad to see you hold a grudge against our arch enemies as much as I do. The greatest memories of my youth come from the 1985 to 1993 when the Jays were a force pretty much every year. I’m trying to recapture that youth with successful team now, each year I’m disappointed.

    Emma,
    Glad you liked it! The muesum is in St. Marys, Ontario, a very small town. Similar to what Cooperstown is to New York, St. Marys is to Toronto. Its a little off the beaten path, from the 401 you can take 19th line right up there. I should have posted this link for everyone.
    http://www.baseballhalloffame.ca/
    That is awesome that you actually got to meet some of those girls. I would love to go back into the past and take in one of those games.

    Dan,
    Thanks. The problem with the Big O was that it located so far out of town that it was inconveinent for Montreal fans to get to. The facility was also a big desolite playing ground, with no real character. Not to mention the Expos problem of keeping players from their amazingly great farm system. I see why fans, all of a sudden, stopped coming. I really liked some of the teams they produce in those years, and I know there are many baseball fans still in Montreal, that is why it is a shame to me.

  10. Erin Kathleen

    Canada has such a great baseball history and it’s a shame that so few people know about it (like the ignorant writer on Yahoo! that made you so mad). So many great major-leaguers came up through the Expos organization: Vlad Guerrero, Grady Sizemore, and Cliff Lee all come to mind. it’s a shame that Jeffrey Loria was allowed to run it into the ground (and is now threatening to do the same to the Marlins).Thanks for all the Justin Morneau stuff, too. I hope he continues to make you guys proud!-Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

  11. raysrenegade

    Great adventures, and he got some classic food in the process…double victory for the trip.
    Did they have a Pete Rose exhibit. I have hard a rumor that he is in the Canadian Hall of Fame only because of his connection with the Montreal Expos.
    Now I know someone who might be able to truly answer that question.
    Awesome trip, and you are a lucky man to have a woman who ahres your passion for baseball………….another rare double.

    Rays Renegade

    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

  12. welikeroywelikeroy

    Rays,
    That is a controversial one. Rose is not inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. He was, however, a big part of what brought prestige to the Expos in those years. At the time, he was a marquee player, Him just coming to the club was historic in itself. It really put Montreal on the map in the baseball world. There is some small items in the Expos exhibit about Pete Rose, but I wouldn’t say it is anything to make a big deal about. He isn’t inducted into the Hall though.

    Erin,
    Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Randy Johnson, Javier Vasquez etc… The Expos could have been extremely good in 1994, which should have been their season while all those players were still on board.

  13. crazy19canuck

    It’s only $7.50 to visit? Wow…it’s more expensive to go to the museums in Ottawa! Besides, I’ll have way more fun in St. Marys.
    What’s the driving distance from Toronto? I never trust mapquest! LOL! Now I’ll just have to make a deal with the devil (hubby) to go, which will probably involve camping in northern Ontario! LOL!
    Canuck
    http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

  14. 333greystreet

    Nice post.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I’ve been a baseball fan for 20 years now since the age of 8, and never made the trip.

    I’ll have to put it on my list of things to do next offseason.

    -Erik
    http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/

  15. welikeroywelikeroy

    Elizabeth,
    Thank you. It was an awesome day. Probably almost as good as the fun you are having at Red Sox spring training.

    Canuck,
    Ya it is very cheap. You can also book private tours in around the winter time. Mapquest has led me astray as well.

    I’d take the 401 W towards Kitchener

    In Kitchener I’d take the HWY-8 W exit, EXIT 278, toward KITCHENER/ WATERLOO.

    Take highway 8 west until you reach highway 7 towards Stratford. Take that and you’ll drive through Stratford. Its a nice town.

    Then you want to turn left onto Route 119 or 19.

    Then turn onto LINE 9, CR-9. Continue to follow CR-9

    You will enter St. Marys on Queen Street, then turn left onto Church Street. Keep going a ways till you reach the CBHOF. You will see signs.

    Hope this helps. When I used Mapquest, it didn’t mess me up too bad this time. You can always ask directions. Unless your husband is against that. lol.

    Erik,
    I love muesums in general. Baseball muesums are the most interesting thing to me. Cooperstown has sooo many great things to look at. I could a week in that building, and a year shopping in that town. It is also a beautiful drive down around the aderondacks (sp).

  16. raysrenegade

    I am not sure if you heard this news yet, but they are going to retire Fregie Jenkins number in Chicago this year. I just saw a news blurp basically telling the Internet that Jenkins and Gregg Maddux’s numbers will be retired this year.

    Thought you might want to know as soon as I found it out today.

    Rays Renegade

    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

  17. happyyoungster

    Wow…what an awesome post! That looks like a sight to behold. I really miss the Expos. I regret not traveling to see Olympic Stadium before it closed to baseball.
    Any Paul Molitor stuff in that museum? If not, there should be!
    That last picture made me hungry for a grill-out…nice work.
    “Happy”

    http://thehappyyoungster.mlblogs.com/

  18. greg1969

    Thanks for the post! Neat tribute to Jenkins, and the other Canadians in baseball. I have not been to Cooperstown, either–I’d love to see both places! Again, thanks.

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