JOE CARTER HEADS THE LIST OF
|February 24, 2003 St. Marys Ten years after hitting the World Series walk-off home run, Joe Carter has another reason to jump for joy on Canadian soil, as he will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum (CBHFM) this summer. Joining Carter in the class of 2003 are Kirk McCaskill, Richard Bélec and the Vancouver Asahi baseball team.
Pete Rose was among 42 nominees who did not receive 75% of the required votes to be inducted, and will remain on the active ballot for nine years.
The CBHFM does not publicize the breakdown of the total votes cast.
"We are launching our Kids On Deck program this summer, and these week-long baseball camps for Canada's youth will address cultural awareness and social justice issues," said president & CEO Tom Valcke. "Our selection committee chose a perfect mix in this regard. All of us here believe that our Hall of Fame should strive for generational balance, regional balance, and professional/amateur balance, and the class of 2003 is exemplary."
The Induction Ceremony is slated for Saturday 28 June 2003 in St. Marys on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum's Ceremonial Grounds. The Seventh Annual Celebrity Golf Classic will take place the day before, June 27, at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club.
Joe Carter played 1,039 games with the Blue Jays over seven seasons, and is second all-time in Blue Jays home runs (203) and RBI (736), trailing only Carlos Delgado in both categories. Carter hit 396 career homers, had 1,445 career RBI, and 2,184 career hits. He was the Blue Jays 1994 Player of the Year, played in five All-Star Games as a Blue Jay, and won two Silver Slugger awards. Carter is best known for his 1993 World Series-clinching walk-off home run in Toronto in Game 6 vs. Philadelphia Phillies. It was the first and only Series-winning home run since the Pirates Bill Mazeroski vs. New York Yankees in 1960.
Carter, who was contacted at his home in Kansas City, said: "This is truly a wonderful honour, and I will never forget this day. Toronto was the greatest place I played, and I am looking forward to getting together with the friends I made on and off the field there. To join Paul Beeston, Pat Gillick and Cito Gaston on the walls in St. Marys is so special - those years were an unprecedented and unmatched era of success. My whole family is coming to St. Marys!"
|Joe Carter hitting the famous home run.|
Born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Kirk McCaskill's106 career wins are second all-time by a Canadian (Fergie Jenkins-284, Reggie Cleveland-105). In addition, he is second all-time in games started (242) by a Canadian behind Jenkins, and third all-time in strikeouts (1,003) behind Jenkins and John Hiller. Jenkins, Cleveland and Hiller have all been previously inducted.
McCaskill was a right-handed pitcher who played 12 major league seasons from 1985 through 1996, the first seven years with the California Angels and the last five with the Chicago White Sox. He blossomed in 1986 with a 17-10 record, 202 strikeouts and 3.36 ERA for the AL West champion Angels. He had six seasons with 10 or more wins and threw two one-hitters, on June 25, 1986 vs. Texas Rangers, and on April 28, 1989 vs. Toronto Blue Jays. He ranked in the top ten in the American League in ERA three times (1986, 1989, 1990). He also ranked in the top ten in shutouts three times (1986, 1988, 1989).
McCaskill is also known for giving up back-to-back homers to Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Sr. on September 14, 1990, the only known father and son to accomplish the feat. McCaskill was the first college player selected in the 1981 NHL draft by the Winnipeg Jets, after winning All-American honours as a hockey player at the University of Vermont and finishing runner-up for the Hobey Baker award (college hockey's player of the year). Kirk McCaskill is married to Dana with three sons, Riley (12), Reese (7) and Bennett (4). McCaskill, who was contacted at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, said: "I am stunned by this wonderful news. I can't wait to tell my family and my parents. I am very proud of my Canadian heritage, and this is going to be an honour of a lifetime."
|Photo of Kirk McCaskill|
Born in Montreal, QC, Richard Bélec was one of the founders of Baseball Quebec in 1968. He was president of that organization from 1970-72 and 1980-94, as well as president of Quebec Junior Elite League for 16 years (the oldest Junior league in Canada). He helped establish the Acadamie Baseball Canada, which still operates today and gives Canadian ballplayers an opportunity to go to post-secondary school in Canada while playing competitive baseball (the Dodgers Eric Gagne attended the ABC). Bélec served as the liaison to the Montreal Expos for Baseball Quebec. He became a vice-president with Baseball Canada for 14 years, followed by becoming the president of Baseball Canada from 1994-96. He was the director and president of the International Baseball Federation's Youth Commission for 10 years. For the IBAF, he was the coordinator of several World Championship tournaments as well as the Intercontinental Cups hosted by Montreal and Moncton. He was twice named Volunteer of the Year by Sports-Quebec, and was inducted into the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame on June 26, 2000. In total, Bélec has been involved in amateur baseball for more than 50 years. Richard Bélec is married to Helene with one son, Marc.
Bélec, who was brought to tears when contacted at his home in Montreal, said: "This comes as such a shock to me, as I know that there are so many other deserving volunteers in Quebec. It will be a very proud day in St. Marys this June, and I am already looking forward to being among my friends from across Canada."
|Photo of Richard Bélec|
The Asahi, a team of Japanese Canadians, were the pride of Vancouver's Little Tokyo. Local heroes, hopeful recruits came not only from the hometown, but also from every surrounding town, village and farm in the Fraser Valley. Wearing the Asahi uniform became the dream of every Japanese Canadian boy.
Smaller than most Caucasian players, the Asahi played a brand of baseball everyone called "brain ball." They stole bases with abandon and placed bunts with the accuracy of pool sharks.
By the 1930's, the Asahi Japanese Baseball Team was playing in the prestigious Senior City League at Athletic Park, and had become the top gate attraction on the West Coast. Beginnning in 1937, the Asahi won the Pacific Northwest Championship five years in a row. However, 1941 would be the last carefree summer the boys would play as a team. Early in 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government interned all people of Japanese descent, confiscating their property, and destroying their lives.
As a team, the Asahi never played ball again. Yet, when these men, along with thousands of Japanese Canadians, were removed to prison camps, ghost towns, and road crews, they took with them the spirit of baseball. Little by little, bats and balls appeared and these former Asahi players assembled baseball teams wherever they were. Soon these men were playing against their RCMP prison guards, then with local townspeople many of who had never seen a Japanese person before and were surprised to discover they spoke perfect English. Baseball, the ultimate symbol of North American culture, was a common bond. It helped dispel suspicions and fears and led to lasting friendships that exist today.
Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story is A NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA PRODUCTION. It is directed by JARI OSBORNE, 2000 Gemini Award winner for Unwanted Soldiers and multiple award winning producer KAREN KING (Rude, Unwanted Soldiers).
It is believed that ten members of the Asahi are still alive today: Ken Shimida, Jim Fukui, Yuki Uno, George Yoshinaka, Ken Kutsukake, Kiyoshi Suga, Mickey Maikawa, Kaye Kaminishi, Mike Maruno, and Bob Higuchi.
Ken Kutsukake, 92, was a catcher who formed a team in the Kaslo camp with his battery mate Naggie Nishihara. He later joined the Atwater Baseball Team in Montreal in 1947, and moved to Toronto in 1948 where he played at Christie Pits. He has coached in several divisions and is still a strong Blue Jays baseball fan and attends several games. Contacted at his home in Toronto, Kutsukake said: "I am so very delighted with this unexpected news. On behalf of all the Asahi players who have passed away, we thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for this honour."
Kiyoshi Suga, 81, started as a bat boy for the Asahi in 1932. His two older brothers were both southpaws with the team and had three uncles in the Asahi organization. He became the official scorer, secretary and fundraiser. During his internment, he played on the Lemon Creek All-Stars, and afterwards moved to Vernon, BC to play for the Okanagan Valley Senior League. He moved once more to Montreal, where he became a catcher for the Montreal Niseis, city champions in 1949. Contacted at his home in Montreal, Suga said: "This is beautiful! Terrific! This is the best news ever! We are so appreciative to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and to Pat Adachi, the author of Asahi: The Legend in Baseball, who told our story."
Frank Moritsugu, a long-time Vancouver Asahi fan who knows the players personally and admired them from afar at various Vancouver-area parks in the 1930s, nominated the Vancouver Asahi for induction into the CBHFM. Upon receiving the news at his home in Toronto, he said: "How wonderful that the Vancouver Asahi were voted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame while some of the surviving members are still around. As for the rest of those Japanese-Canadian elite players who have passed on, we know they're up there on our Field of Dreams pounding their gloves and cheering, too."
All Photos Courtesy of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum