Lasorda to be inducted to Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
St. Marys, Ontario - Tommy Lasorda's nine-year stint a half century ago when he became the winningest pitcher in the history of the International League's Montreal Royals franchise will earn him induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum on June 24th.
Lasorda will be enshrined with three other well-deserving inductees, including fellow southpaw Ron Stead of London, Ontario, who dominated the Intercounty League, Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan native Ron Hayter, a driving force in the development of baseball in Western Canada, and Fredericton, New Brunswick's Larry McLean, who had played the most games in the Major Leagues (862) of any Canadian eligible but not yet elected to the Hall. McLean, who died at 39 years of age in 1921, will be inducted posthumously.
There were a total of 55 names on the active ballot, voted on by a 16-member panel geographically spread across Canada. Candidates must receive a minimum of seventy-five percent (12 votes) in order to be inducted.
"Besides their outstanding credentials, which speak for themselves, the attractiveness of the class of '06 is that they represent balances we strive for: generational, regional, and a balance between professional and grass roots baseball in Canada," said Hall president & CEO Tom Valcke.
The 2006 Induction Ceremony will take place in beautiful St. Marys, Ontario on Saturday, June 24th at 10:00am, with the Hall's 10th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic the day before.
Brief biographies on each 2006 inductee are below. A list all inductees (by year) is attached in a virus-free MS Word document, as well as a photograph of each inductee. For more photos, please contact the Hall of Fame (contact information below). Tommy Lasorda is shown in the centre of his photo with Don Hoak on the left and Walt Moryn on the right.
A telephone media conference for the three living inductees and the media will occur at 1:00pm EST today, Tuesday, February 28th. Eligible media personnel may call the Hall for further information at (519) 284-1838.
Ron Hayter - Born in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, Hayter lived and played baseball in Northern Saskatchewan and British Columbia before taking charge of Baseball Alberta in 1968. Hayter revived the struggling provincial body, straightening out the finances and tripling the number of registered teams in just three years before stepping down in 1971 after running successfully for Edmonton City Council. As Edmonton's longest serving City Councillor, Hayter has worked tirelessly for the development of playing facilities for amateur sport, especially baseball. In 1993-95, he chaired a special committee which successfully negotiated and supervised the construction of a new Triple A baseball park in Edmonton, now known as Telus Field.
Hayter went on to serve Baseball Canada in various capacities, from developing the first distinctively Canadian rulebook to organizing the first national championships. He also represented Canada with the International Baseball Federation for 18 years, sitting on the Legal and Technical Commissions, and receiving the IBAF's President's Award in 1990.
He was the founder and Chair, since 1979, of the Edmonton International Baseball Foundation that has organized six international baseball competitions in Edmonton, including the first-ever IBAF World Cup of Women's Baseball in 2004. The EIBF has contributed almost a half million dollars to Baseball Canada, Baseball Alberta, and the IBAF, and has established a scholarship fund, helped finance minor baseball parks, and sponsors clinics to help players and coaches in the province of Alberta.
Former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, inducted into the Hall in 1983, called upon Hayter as an advisor in the formation of Sport Canada. In 1974, Hayter won the coveted Vanier Award as an "Outstanding Young Canadian" and received the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 2004 for outstanding public service.
"When I heard the news, I was speechless, and to anyone who knows me, that's highly unusual!" said Hayter from his Edmonton office.
"I've been involved in baseball for more than 50 years and none of it was for any personal glory - you do it for love of the game. But being recognized in this way is a very great honour and I thank all the people who have helped me along the way."
Tommy Lasorda - Born in Norristown, PA, Lasorda was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at the age of 20 in 1948 after Philadelphia left him unprotected from the draft. He gained the Dodgers attention when he struck out a record 25 batters in a 15-inning game for Schenectady of the Class C Canadian-American League.
Lasorda went on to win 107 games over parts of nine seasons with their top farm club, the Montreal Royals. He pitched for Montreal from 1950-1955, and again from 1958-1960, ranks as the all-time Royals leader in wins, games pitched (251), innings pitched (1,461). He led Montreal to five Governors' Cups (International League Championships) in 1951 through 1954, and in 1958. His best individual season was 1958 when we compiled an 18-6 won-loss record with five shutouts, a string of 31 scoreless innings and a 2.50 ERA, easily winning the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher Award.
The longest serving member of the Royals constantly experimented with new pitches to complement his above-average curve ball. Lasorda played with loads of enthusiasm and emotion, delivering pitches with a high leg-kick. He was a battler whose reputation around the league was that he'd send his own grandmother sprawling to the dirt if he were mad enough.
Lasorda ended his Royals career in grand fashion. In his final appearance in 1960, struggling against the Buffalo Bisons, he had loaded the bases with nobody out. He turned his back to manager Clay Bryant, who was on the top step of the dugout poised to remove him, gazed into the sky and prayed for something - anything - to get him out of the jam. The next batter hit a line drive that caromed off third baseman George Risley's glove into the mitt of the diving shortstop Jerry Snyder's glove. Snyder flipped it to second and it was relayed to first to nail a pair of stray runners. Lasorda's last pitch with the Royals resulted in a bases loaded triple play!
Went on to play and then manage in the Major Leagues, winning nearly 1,600 games with the Dodgers and capturing two World Series in 1981 and 1988. He also Managed Team USA to the Gold Medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"I'm ecstatic about this wonderful news," said a surprised and elated Lasorda from Vero Beach where he is in Spring Training with the Dodgers.
"I cherish the time I had in Montreal, and to be remembered and recognized 50 years later, and by another country's Hall of Fame, is an extraordinary honour. I can't wait to come to St. Marys this summer!"
Larry McLean - There was speculation that a "Big Larry" might get into the Hall this year, but the spinsters were referring to Larry Walker in hopes that the Hall would bypass the mandatory three-year waiting period after retirement due to his outstanding career. However, given that Fergie Jenkins was not fast-tracked, the concept did not fly with the Selection Committee.
John Bannerman McLean, nicknamed "Big Larry" due to his resemblance to Larry "Nap" Lajoie, was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and had played the most Major league games (862) of any eligible Canadian not yet inducted. Of the 221 Canadians who have played in the Major Leagues, he stands 14th in games played, and is in the top 20 in hits (694), at bats (2,647), doubles (90), triples (26). Standing 6'5", he is reportedly the tallest catcher in Major League history.
His Major League career spanned 15 years from 1901-1915, for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants.
The Bunyanesque player did everything in a big way, including getting into trouble. Mainly due to a lifelong battle with alcohol, McLean's career was punctuated by repeated suspensions, occasional brawls, and periodic scrapes with the law. He played his best baseball with the Reds, for whom he batted over .285 three times. McLean batted .500 in the 1913 World Series. He is in the top three of almost all catching and offensive categories for Canadian Major League catchers, coupled with George Gibson and Jimmy Archer.
Baseball historian Lee Allen described McLean as "big and slow, but could hit and throw."
Ron Stead - Born in London, Ontario, Ron Stead is the greatest pitcher to play in the heralded Intercounty League as illustrated by his longevity and dominance. Stead ranks first in all-time wins (104), innings pitched (1,365), strikeouts (1,231), games started (151), complete games (116), and shutouts (25). He was a 10-time All-Star and four-time MVP (1960, '63, '65, and '67).
Stead led Brantford to five consecutive league championships from 1959 through 1963 plus another in 1965. With Guelph, they won the 1970 championship.
His best individual season was 1963, when he compiled a 14-1 won-loss record and a microscopic 0.63 ERA.
Stead still holds the single-season Intercounty League record for innings pitched (149 in 1960) and most strikeouts (155 in 1965).
Stead was also the starting pitcher for the very first Team Canada ever assembled, in the 1967 Pan Am Games. He turned in a strong five-hit, 10-strikeout performance over seven innings against Mexico.
He was also a member of the Ontario team at the 1969 Canada Games in Halifax.
The left-hander also pitched in 1957-58 for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the International League, the team who he had previously served as batboy for 10 years. He also had amassed a 31-31 record over two seasons in the Florida State League with Orlando and Gainsville in 1956-57.
"This is truly an honour and a tribute to all amateur players across Canada," said a humbled Stead from his Chatham home.
"I loved every minute of my career, and this caps it all."
SOURCE: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame