The five members of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 and 2022 are now enshrined into history.
Jeff Francis, the lone entrant in the class of 2022, along with Justin Morneau, John Olerud, Duane Ward and Jacques Doucet, from the class of 2020, were recognized for their contributions to the game of baseball at the ceremony in St. Marys.
Francis, a 6-foot-5 pitcher, was selected ninth overall by the Colorado Rockies in 2002. Francis’ 11-season career led him to the Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.
“It is humbling to see and know the players that I will be joining on the wall. There are so many great players, teams, coaches and broadcasters but I think what I share most is that not one of us got on this stage by ourselves,” said Francis.
“I am proud of what I accomplished in baseball but I consider this honour not just a recognition of my achievements in the game but of the coaching, mentorship and support I’ve received from so many people for so long,” he added.
Morneau, a first baseman, spent 11 years with the Minnesota Twins. Olerud, also a first baseman, won two World Series titles with the Blue Jays. Ward was a relief pitcher on those title-winning teams. His 121 saves remain second all-time for the Blue Jays. Doucet was a broadcaster in Montreal and Toronto.
Pedro Martínez, pitching legend and 2018 Hall of Fame inductee, was in attendance.
“I really want to show my respect and show how humble I am to become part of this legacy here in Canada,” said Martínez.
Martínez, born in the Dominican Republic, recalls the challenge of learning English and French as he began his pitching career with the Montreal Expos.
“I am really thankful and grateful to have had an opportunity to represent Montreal, represent Canada, and to be part of this legacy — I am extremely proud. I am in Cooperstown, too, and this is as meaningful,” he said of the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York.
Jeremy Diamond, chair of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, said he is thrilled to see baseball fans make the pilgrimage to St. Marys.
“I really truly missed this. It has been three years since we gathered and it is so great to see everybody, said Diamond.
Two St Marys locals, Curt Hawkins and Joe Hawkins, have attended the induction ceremony for as long as they can remember. The father-son duo describe themselves as huge baseball fans.
“Going to a live game is just the best. Everybody talks between innings — it is the atmosphere that makes me love baseball,” said Curt.
The COVID-19 pandemic prohibited in-person celebrations since 2019. The virtual ceremony held in November 2021 recognized 21 inductees.
“Despite the challenges we have faced in the last few years, the hall (Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame) has been very busy. Since last fall we had the unique opportunity to elect long forgotten trailblazers and pioneers of Canadian baseball — players, teams, umpires,” said Diamond.