Staub among those named to Canadian Baseball Hall-of-Fame
The Canadian Baseball Hall-of-Fame announced on Tuesday that Rusty Staub, Doug Melvin, Rheal Cormier and the Canadian Senior National Team that won gold at the recent Pan-Am Games will be inducted in a ceremony at St. Marys on June 23. They are all good choices.
Staub was the first baseball superstar for the expansion Expos. His short, powerful home run stroke that took advantage of the prevailing winds at Jarry Park, his powerful throwing arm and the way he embraced the city and its fans from the moment he arrived in a controversial trade with the Astros, all contributed to create the early success of major-league baseball in Montreal, against all odds. The New Orleans native, a wine connoisseur and fan of fine French cuisine, became the baseball equivalent of Hab's star Jean Beliveau, as an ambassador of his game. He carried himself with grace and class and has always recalled his time in Montreal fondly. If the Expos had failed, baseball may never have looked north to Canada again and the Jays might not have been viable.
Staub played the 1969-71 seasons in Montreal, living in the city during much of the winter. Earning the nickname Le Grand Orange, he parlayed his popularity into endorement deals across Canada, including most famously with Orange Crush. Staub was dealt to the Mets in '72 for a trio of talented prospects, Ken Singleton, Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen. It was an unpopular trade with fans that ended up helping both team, as Staub led the Mets to the '74 World Series, while the Expos trio comprised 33-percent of the club's new batting order. When Staub was reacquired in a bench role in the middle of the summer of '79, his first appearance at Olympic Stadium as a pinch-hitter in a doubleheader against the Pirates was greeted by a minute-long standing ovation from more than 57,000 fans.
Melvin, a native of Chatham, Ontario, built the Brewers into a World Series contender, losing last seasons's NLCS to the eventual champion Cardinals. Melvin has been the Brewers GM since 2002 and has surrounded himself with Canadian content, aided ably by assistant GM Gord Ash, closer John Axford and backup catcher George Kottaras. He also was the Rangers' GM from '94 to '01, at the time they signed free agent Alex Rodriguez.
Cormier, 44, pitched 16 seasons with the Cards, Red Sox, Expos, Phillies and Reds. The total of major-league seasons ranks third among Canadian players behind Matt Stairs and Larry Walker. His 683 games rank second among Canadian pitchers behind Paul Quantrill.
The talented Canadian National team traveled to Mexico and walked off with gold at the '11 Pan Am Games. It was the first gold medal for Canada's senior men ever. They won bronze in Winnipeg back in '97 when former Jays' catcher and Detroit native Ernie Whitt first took over as manager of the senior team. Whitt, Baseball Canada's executive director Greg Hamilton and as many players as can attend will be at the June ceremony.
The museum and the Canadian Hall-of-Fame induction are well worth the drive to St. Marys for anyone with baseball playing sons or daughters.