Friday, June 27, 2014


Halls of Fame 2014

Two halls of fame are in the news this week. On Monday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its inductee list for 2014. Four players, one coach and one on-ice official made the grade this year: Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, and Mike Modano are the players. An interesting sort, as they all hail from different countries. Pat Burns was a police officer for 17 years, then hung up his shield and began coaching. He won the Cup with New Jersey in 2003. Bill McCreary was on the ice for 1982 games in the NHL, and worked international hockey as well. All well deserved.



The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is now firmly situated in the town of St. Marys, Ontario, west of Toronto, east of Windsor. In his remarks in the program for the induction ceremony, Mayor Steve Grose has a word of thanks to all of the folks who have contributed to the success of the event. He writes that they “have ensured St. Marys a spot on the international map and have significantly added to the success of our town”. Cooperstown, New York, is a sleepy community most of the year. But in the summer, especially during induction week, it comes alive with the spirit of baseball fans from around the world.



Last weekend, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inducted four members, one player and three others who have significantly contributed to the game: Tim Wallach, Dave Van Horne, Murray Cook, and Jim Ridley.



At the height of his playing career, Wallch stood at 6’ 3”, and weighed 220 pounds. He was drafted tenth overall by the Expos, and began his career in Montreal, playing five games in 1980.  He played 71 games in 1981, and became a full time player the following year. In 1982, he smacked 28 home runs, and drove in 97 runs. From that point on, the brass in the Expos organization knew that they had a keeper.



“Eli”, as he was dubbed by his teammates, went on to become the best third baseman in the history of the Expos. He played there for 13 seasons, from 1980 to 1992. He was selected to play in five All Star games, and won three Gold Glove awards. He won two Silver Slugger Awards in 1985 and 1987. He spent the final four years of his career with the Dodgers and the Angels.



He continues to work in the game, and is now the Dodger bench coach, alongside Dodger Manager Don Mattingly. He is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and the California State Fullerton Athletics Hall of Fame.



Wallach also leads the Expos in many statistical categories: games played (1 767), hits (1 694), doubles (360), and total bases (2 728).



Dave Van Horne was the voice of the Expos for 32 seasons. His sidekick was Duke Snider for several years, and in my humble opinion, they supplied the best baseball chatter ever. Duke was so knowledgeable, and Van Horne knew the buttons to push to keep the dialogue flowing. 1n 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Ford C. Frick Award, the Cooperstown nod for broadcasting excellence. He joins a host of other Expo family members in the Canadian Hall: Charles Bronfman, John McHale, Jim Fanning, Rusty Staub, Claude Raymond, Ron Piche, Steve Rogers, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Larry Walker, and Rheal Cormier.



Good friend Pam Murray attended the festivities. One of her observations was that there was a lot of chatter about “bringing back the Expos”. With all of the names I have thrown around here, you can understand that notion; however, money talks, and it just ain’t sayin’ Montreal is ready for Major League baseball again. Not just yet.



Maybe some day.


James Hurst

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