December 01, 2008
OTTAWA – On November 28th, 2008, Baseball Canada lost a friend and true ambassador to the game of baseball in Canada. Jim Ridley passed away at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in Burlington, Ontario of cancer. He was 64.
Baseball was Ridley’s life. He always had time to share his experiences and knowledge with the young ball players, whether they were a highly touted prospect, or someone simply willing to learn. If you had passion for the game, he would try and help you along your way.
“He truly was what you would call a baseball man through and through,” says Greg Hamilton, Director of National Teams and Head Coach for Baseball Canada.
Ridley managed 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. He was also the manager of the first Canadian Team to qualify for the Olympics, leading his team to the 1988 games in Seoul.
Ridley played in the Atlanta Braves minor league system and later joined the Toronto Blue Jays as a scout in 1976. He would coach with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays from 1978-80 and continued scouting for the team until 2002. In recent years, he served in the same capacity with the Minnesota Twins.
Ridley was 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.
“Jim was a longtime friend,” says interim Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston in a statement. “He made a huge contribution to baseball in Canada and helped the Blue Jays establish roots across Canada.
“The results of his fine work, much of it done at the grassroots level, helped to create a foundation for the success that so many Canadian players now enjoy at all levels.”
“He deeply cared about the game and his life was in so many ways devoted to the betterment of the game in that context,” says Hamilton. “He was a huge part of the family.”
Baseball Canada sends its condolences to the Ridley family as the entire baseball community in Canada mourns the loss of a true friend.