St. Marys Journal Argus
It will be a “Jr. Jays Saturday” in downtown St. Marys on June 21, as Toronto’s Major League Baseball club gets behind this weekend’s annual Induction celebration like never before at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“It should be a real festival feel,” offered Hall of Fame administrative assistant Zach Harmer, in an interview earlier this week.
For the first time, a portion of the Induction Weekend will be held downtown — a tactic used to great effect by the Hall of Fame’s more famous American counterpart in Cooperstown, New York, where the actual facility is located right in the community’s core, and all the induction events are held close by. Specifically in St. Marys, this Saturday’s Induction ceremony will be held, as in the past, at the Hall of Fame grounds on Church Street South from 1-3 p.m. But prior to the ceremony, from 9 a.m. to noon, there will be a “Baseball Family Street Festival” on two blocks of downtown Queen Street.
Two shuttle buses are being made available for Induction visitors, many of whom are expected to find parking at the Hall of Fame grounds, to get to and from the downtown events.
According to Harmer, the support of the Blue Jays was key to following through on a long-held belief among both Hall of Fame leadership and Town of St. Marys representatives that the Induction Weekend needed to develop a downtown connection. The Major League club, in agreeing to participate, committed to transporting its “Jr. Jays Saturday” entertainment concept to the Stonetown for the day.
For “Jr. Jays Saturdays,” held whenever the Blue Jays have a Saturday home game at Rogers Centre, seven unique inflatable children’s attractions are situated outside the stadium. There’s also a radar gun mechanism at which kids can gauge the velocity of their pitching. Baseball-themed and other imaginative face-painting booths draw long line-ups. And Ace, the Blue Jays’ energetic mascot, roams through the crowd entertaining.
All of these attractions will be in downtown St. Marys on Saturday.
On top of that, Harmer notes, three famous former Blue Jays will be on hand to sign autographs. Two of them — relief pitcher Duane Ward and centrefielder Devon White — are visiting the town for the first time. But perhaps the retired player whose autograph might be most sought after will be George Bell, the spectacular slugger who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Despite the obvious support of the Blue Jays, however, Harmer says the Baseball Family Street Festival wouldn’t have happened without the support of the downtown.
“There may be only one other store, besides ourselves (at their Queen Street administrative offices) that’s sports-themed in the downtown, but the merchants have really made an effort to give this a baseball feel,” he said. “They’ve spruced up their storefronts; some of the merchants will have things for sale on the sidewalks, we’ll have food available from a couple of the restaurants.”
Students from The World’s Coolest Music Store will be providing entertainment.
“The downtown has certainly come together in a big way to make this a huge event,” Harmer said.
The main point of the weekend, of course, is the induction of players, builders and broadcasters into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. And this year, two men that helped make the Montreal Expos one of baseball’s most competitive franchises of the 1980s will join the prestigious list of inductees.
Long-time Expos third baseman Tim Wallach and former general manager Murray Cook will be honoured, along with legendary Expos broadcaster Dave Van Horne. One-time Canadian national team coach and highly respected scout Jim Ridley will also be inducted posthumously.
“Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and sponsors, we’ve been able to add even more events to our induction festivities this year. There’s truly something for everyone during the four days of activities,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations, in a news release about this weekend’s events.
“I’m very proud to honour the careers of four worthy inductees who, each in their own way, have made a permanent imprint on baseball in this country.”
Schedule for 2014 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, June 19-22
Thursday, June 19
• Home Run Derby — Team Canada fastball vs. Team Canada slow pitch, 6 p.m.
• Team Wallach vs. Team Jenkins Celebrity Slow Pitch game, 7 p.m.
(Both events at Rotary Field, with barbecue and beverages available.)
Friday, June 20
• London Salutes Canadian Baseball breakfast at London Convention Centre in London. Guests will include: George Bell, Devon White, Duane Ward, Tim Wallach, Dave Van Horne and Fergie Jenkins, 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tickets are $50 in advance.
• 18th annual Celebrity Golf Classic and banquet at St. Marys Golf and Country Club. Shotgun start at 10 a.m. Banquet at 5 p.m. at Hall of Fame grounds.
Saturday, June 21
• Baseball Family Street Festival, downtown St. Marys, 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
• Induction Ceremony for Tim Wallach, Dave Van Horne, Murray Cook and Jim Ridley, 1-3 p.m.
• InterCounty Baseball League game — Barrie Baycats vs. Hamilton Cardinals, Cement Plant Field, 2 p.m. Free.
• Barbecue, museum open, ball games all day, and autograph session at 3:30 p.m.
• Toronto Blue Jays Honda Super Camp, 3-7 p.m.
Sunday, June 22
• Toronto Blue Jays Honda Super Camp, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.