David Francis Voted as Top Game Performer

  • November 28, 2008

OTTAWA – The fans voted and the results are in.  You voted David Francis (Mississauga, ON) as This Year in Minor League Baseball’s Single-Game Performance of the Year award winner. The former Junior National Team member threw six no-hit innings to go along with an incredible 16 strikeouts in just his fourth professional appearance for the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League and won the award with 48.3 percent of the vote. The 20-year-old right-hander beat out Micah Hoffpauir of the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League who had a 4-for-5 day with four homers and four RBI.  He garnered 26.5 percent of the vote. Congratulations to David on his magnificent performance and winning the award and thank you to those who voted for the This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards.

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Baseball Legend Tom Burgess Passes Away

  • November 25, 2008

OTTAWA - Tom Burgess lived and breathed baseball. The London, Ontario native would often say there was not a baseball park in North America that he had not either played or managed in. On November 24, 2008, Tom Burgess passed away in his home after a lengthy battle with cancer.  He was 81. Burgess played professionally between 1946 and 1963, making it to the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954 and again with the Los Angeles Angels in 1962. But his true mark in the game came as a coach.  He was a manager in the Minor Leagues in the farm systems of the Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.  He would serve as a Major League coach in 1977 with the Mets and in 1978 with the Braves. All told, Burgess has spent over 40 years in professional baseball.  That type of longevity is a remarkable feat for a Canadian at a time when Canadians in baseball were a rare breed. “To survive in the U.S., being a Canadian, you’re getting knocked down and getting back up,” said Burgess in an interview back in 2003. After his professional coaching career, he would continue coaching at the amateur level as a member of the coaching staff of the Junior National Team in 1999 and 2000, as well as the Senior National Team in 2001 and 2003.  He has coached the likes of Justin Morneau and Jason Bay in his time with Baseball Canada. A member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame since 1992, the love to give back and teach kids the game he loved so much has took him all over the world over an illustrious career. Baseball Canada sends its condolences to the Burgess family.

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Former National Teams Coach in Fight of His Life

  • November 25, 2008

OTTAWA – Jim Ridley, the Manager of the 1988 Canadian Olympic Team and 1991 Pan Am Games Team is battling a bigger foe than any pitcher, or team he has ever faced. The former Blue Jays scout and current scout with the Minnesota Twins is in hospital fighting for his life, battling cancer. Baseball Canada asks that all of those who have had the privilege of being touched by Ridley over the years to send your best wishes to Jim and his family in this time of need. Ridley is responsible for sending off several Canadians to begin their professional careers, including former national team members Paul Spoljaric, John Ogiltree, David Corrente, Rene Tosoni just to name a few. Ridley is what many would consider a baseball lifer.  Among his aforementioned accomplishments in baseball, he was the coach of the Junior National Team from 1983-88, leading his club to a bronze medal at the World Junior Championship in 1983 in Johnstown, PA and again in 1987 in Windsor, Ontario. So when you get a chance, offer your encouragement over to Jim as he offered to so many young players over the years.

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Baseball Canada to Host National Teams Awards Banquet & Fundraiser

  • November 19, 2008

OTTAWA – It is that time of year again! Baseball Canada announces it will hold its annual National Teams Awards Banquet and Fundraiser on Saturday, January 24, 2009 at the Renaissance Toronto Hotel at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The banquet, which will once again take place in the Northern Lights Ballroom, was first held in 2003 and serves as the associations primary fundraiser for national team programs. Many of the programs’ Major League alumni and current national team players attend the banquet each year, along with several professional and amateur baseball executives and dignitaries. “We have been fortunate in the past to receive great support from our alumni playing in Major League Baseball as well as from personnel in both the professional baseball and corporate communities,” says Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams. “We look forward to celebrating a season of Canadian baseball excellence in an environment that fosters future national team success and highlighting the upcoming 2009 World Baseball Classic.” Throughout the evening, Baseball Canada plans on honouring its national teams and players both past and present, including its 2008 Olympic and World Junior clubs.  Baseball Canada will honour the Most Valuable Player of both the junior and senior national teams as well as pay tribute to other notable contributors to the association in the form of alumni and special achievement awards. In addition to the awards portion of the gala, an auction will take place featuring several popular and exclusive items.  Featured items include tickets to the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis and to college football games at the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame.  Also featured is a one-week stay at a luxurious golf and ski resort in Panorama, B.C., and several autographed pieces of baseball memorabilia. Tickets to the event, which will be emceed by Toronto Blue Jays radio announcer Jerry Howarth for a seventh consecutive year, cost $400 per person, $3,200 for a table of eight guests or $4,000 for a table of ten guests. Baseball Canada has registered charitable status. For more information, please contact Greg Hamilton, director of national teams, at 613-748-5606 ext. 225 or via e-mail at ghamilton@baseball.ca. 2009 National Teams Awards Banquet & Fundraiser Registration Form

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Baseball Canada Recognizes its Best at Convention

  • November 15, 2008

TORONTO – Baseball Canada presented its annual awards at the 2008 Fall Convention, recognizing some of the hardest working people in the sport. This year, the MLB Volunteer of the Year Award goes to Geoff Hughes (Saskatchewan). The Lionel Ruhr Coach of the Year recipient is Mark Noel (New Brunswick), while the Dick Willis Memorial Umpire Award winner is Derrick Dubell (Manitoba). Ashley Stephenson (Ontario) is the Women’s National Team MVP, Kate Psota (Ontario) is the winner of the Jimmy Rattlesnake Award and finally, Province of the Year is awarded to the province of Manitoba. MLB Volunteer of the Year: Geoff HughesGeoff Hughes first became involved in minor baseball in 1983 as an assistant coach for his son’s Mosquito team and he has been involved ever since. In 1988, he began is long administrative association with Saskatchewan Pee Wee Baseball where he has held the positions of Treasurer, Vice-President and President over the years. Geoff felt his greatest contribution was to help steer the construction of the present Pee Wee Park in Saskatoon through its planning process and approval by the City of Saskatoon. This three-diamond, city-owned baseball facility has been named the Geoff Hughes Baseball Complex in recognition of his efforts in obtaining the new park. In addition to the recognition received by naming the Pee Wee Park after him, he was also awarded the Investors Group Volunteer Sports Administrator Award in 2005 and was inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. Lionel Ruhr Coach of the Year: Mark NoelMark Noel started his coaching career in 1996 when he joined the Chatham Ironmen program in New Brunswick as the Head Coach of the Bantam AAA team. In this capacity his team won the 1997 provincial tournament and represented the province at the Bantam National Championship in North Bay, Ontario. In 2000 he joined the Ironmen Midget AAA team as assistant coach and subsequently took over as Head Coach the following year. Under his guidance, his team represented New Brunswick at the Midget National Championship in 2002, 2003 and 2005, culminating with a silver medal at the 2005 championship in Trois Rivières, Québec. In 2006 he joined the New Brunswick Canada Cup program as an assistant coach, and later became Head Coach of the New Brunswick Selects in 2007. Since joining the program, the team has finished fourth, fifth and third respectively – resulting in a promotion to Pool A for 2009. His bronze medal team in 2008 was the first New Brunswick team ever to medal at the Baseball Canada Cup. Mark believes strongly in the benefit of continuing to improve his skills through NCCP training and is a full Level 3 coach. This year he participated in the pilots for the MultiSport theory modules for Competition-Development and he is now starting his level 4 tasks. Similarly he displays the leadership desired for high performance coaches as he has now returned to contributing at the grassroots level. He is now an assistant coach for the Ironmen Mosquito AAA team where he coaches his son. Dick Willis Memorial Umpire Award: Derrick DubellIn a relatively short 18 year umpiring career, Derrick Dubell has officiated many provincial and Western Canada championships, along with 11 National Championships. As this Winnipeg native’s own playing career began to wane, he started umpiring in 1990 and within four seasons had earned his Level 4 status and his first national assignment, the Baseball Canada Bantam Championships in Kelowna, BC. He hones his skills locally by doing extensive games in the Manitoba Junior League, the Winnipeg Senior League and the Northern League of Professional Baseball. This past season he was recognized by the Northern League as he was assigned a spot in the Annual All-Star Game. This past season also saw Derrick experience his first International assignment as he was afforded the opportunity to umpire at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He umpired nine games in that tournament, including the prestigious plate assignment for the gold medal game. On top of his accomplishments, Derrick has also been serving the last several years as an Umpire Clinician for Baseball Manitoba, teaching the Level 1, 2 and 3 clinics and assisting at Level 4 clinics. Along with his teaching duties, he also evaluates up and coming officials during league play and has supervised several provincial championships. Women’s National Team MVP: Ashley StephensonAshley Stephenson receives the Women’s National Team Most Valuable Player Award for the second time after winning the prize in 2005. A member of the National Team since its inception in 2004, Ashley has dominated most offensive categories in her three appearances at the Women’s World Cup tournament. During the most recent World Cup in Matsuyama, Japan this past August, Ashley completed the tournament with a .625 batting average while driving in nine runs and finishing first in the category of stolen bases. Ashley was also a major contributor in the victory over the defending world champions, the United States, with a solid performance on the mound. Selected to the 2008 International All-Star team, she is a logical choice for this award. Jimmy Rattlesnake Award: Kate PsotaThe Jimmy Rattlesnake Award is presented for the first time to an athlete who is a member of the Women’s National Team. Kate Psota is the first female winner of the award, which is given to an athlete for their on-field accomplishments, as well as their team spirit and leadership. Kate has been a member of the Women’s National team since 2004 and is the ideal teammate which every team looks for. A strong competitor, Kate is among the cream of the crop of pitchers on the international stage, all-while being one of the most feared hitters on the planet. Always making herself available to her teammates, she also stands out by her involvement in team activities. Without a doubt, the name Kate Psota is synonymous with this award. Province of the Year: ManitobaManitoba is awarded the Province of the Year for the fifth time and it’s first since 1999. The province was a force in governance and program development this past year, finishing first in both categories. In other developmental categories, Manitoba placed second in coaching and fourth in officials’ development. Finally, the association placed fourth in player registration in a year that saw every province showing a slight increase in registration numbers.

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Vote for David Francis for Performance of the Year

  • November 04, 2008

OTTAWA – With a historic election happening in the United States, there is another campaign south of the border that Canadians can vote in involving a Canadian. David Francis (Mississauga, ON) is nominated for the Single-Game Performance of the Year for the This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards, as voted on by the fans. On July 22nd, the former member of the Junior National Team took the mound for what was only his fourth professional appearance of his career for the Danville Braves of the Rookie Appalachian League and threw six no-hit innings with two walks and an incredible 16 strikeouts. The 20-year-old right-hander is up against four other candidates for the award who put up some solid single-game performances of their own.  Francis is up against Bruce Billings of the Class-A Asheville Tourists, Tommy Hanson of the Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Tommy Everidge of the Double-A Midland RockHounds and Micah Hoffpauir of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. But wait, there is more.  You can also vote for Hitter of the Year, Starter of the Year, Reliever of the Year and Team of the Year.  You can review all the candidates’ credentials and vote for your favourites. To vote for David, and to vote in the other categories, go to MLB.com or MiLB.com and cast your vote.

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Networking for Women’s Baseball

  • November 03, 2008

OTTAWA – If you’ve always wanted to connect with people on the subject of women’s baseball, here is your chance to join a social networking group that has recently been created called “Ladies in Baseball.” This social networking group was created on Facebook by Deb Bettencourt and Christine Burgess for all players, coaches, umpires, fans, parents and everyone else involved in girls and women’s baseball around the world. “I think this group will be a great tool to help connect everyone and keep people informed as to what is happening and perhaps to allow us to cohesively work together on all levels of the sport,” says Christine Burgess in a statement via e-mail. The group was created after the success that Bettencourt and Burgess found in recruiting players for a women’s reunion game at the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York last September. For those interested in joining this growing community, go to http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=42624909049 and sign up.

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New Era is the "Official Ball Cap" of Baseball Canada. New Era ensures Team Canada's players have the finest fitted caps to wear. With billions of headwear styles, New Era is best known for being the official on-field cap for major League Baseball as well as creating the iconic 59FIFTY fitted cap. New Era continues to be a lifestyle brand of choice not only with their headwear collections, but also accessories and apparel lines for men, women and youth. For more information on the brand, visit www.neweracap.com

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Baseball Canada is pleased to introduce Shaped by Our Game, a new initiative on baseball.ca that will profile people who have used our sport to achieve success later in life. Baseball is a sport that provides great life lessons and teaches skills that are applicable for future success in life whether on the baseball field or not.

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Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a systemic approach being developed and adopted by Baseball Canada to maximize a participant's potential and involvement in our sport. The LTAD framework aims to define optimal training, competition and recovery throughout an athlete's career to enable him / her to reach his / her full potential in baseball and as an athlete.