My dad, Ralph Glew, and my unphotogenic self in Ottawa recently.

June 15, 2024

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

-Up until my mid-teens, he channeled his inner Mickey Mantle to hit me countless fly balls down Thames Crescent in Dorchester, Ont. And I chased them pretending to be Jesse Barfield or Dale Murphy. He’s a kind, quiet, patient, gentle and responsible man who has literally given me the shoes off his feet on more than one occasion. He’s my handyman, my accountant, my Toronto Blue Jays co-analyst and most importantly, a tremendously supportive dad. I’m blessed to have Ralph Glew as my father and I’m grateful that I was able to sit with him at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Saturday.

Left to right: Jack Graney Award winner Buck Martinez, 2024 Canadian ball hall inductees Rod Heisler, Ashley Stephenson, Russell Martin, Paul Godfrey and Howard Birnie. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

-An emotional Russell Martin paid tribute to his father in his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech on Saturday. When Martin was growing up in Montreal, his father made his living as a busker playing his saxophone in Montreal subway stations. In between those busking sessions, his father would take him to the local ball field and run him through baseball drills until he was 14 or 15. And sometimes if his dad had a particularly lucrative day busking, Martin’s father would treat him to a Montreal Expos game at Olympic Stadium. “He spent most of his time on the field with me after being at the Metro (subway) in the mornings,” said Martin during his induction speech. “He’s a wonderful man. He’s strong and powerful and he taught me everything I need to know when it comes to determination.” Martin’s father was not in attendance on Saturday, but the former Blue Jays catcher assured us his father is doing well. Martin, however, also wanted to make sure to acknowledge his mother, Suzanne, who was in attendance on Saturday. “I’m truly lucky to have such an incredible mom,” said Martin. “She’s the driving force for my motivation . . . If my mom wasn’t there to love me and support me like she did, I wouldn’t be standing here. I talk often about my dad and I just wanted to make sure I took the time to tell her how much I love her and I’m thankful for everything she has done for me throughout my life.”

-Ashley Stephenson, the first member of the Women’s National Team to be inducted into the Canadian ball hall and one of the most inspirational people you will ever meet, lost her father, Doug, when she was eight years old. But his influence on her lives on. Her father coached her first T-ball team when she was four years old in Mississauga, Ont. “A buddy of his asked him to coach his son’s T-ball team and he said, ‘Only if I can bring my daughter,’” said Stevenson. “And he was worried that I would be brutal so I got a little red-hot bat and my tee and we use to practice at the park all the time, so he introduced me to ball. So, I hope I’ve made him proud.” But Stephenson added during her induction speech that she got her competitive drive from her mother Lori (who they also call Muriel). “My mom is a warrior and probably the most intense person you’ve ever met,” said Stevenson. The longtime national team star said her dad just wanted her to have fun when playing sports. “But my mom was like, you may as well win if you’re out there,” Stevenson joked. “She was like, ‘Why am I driving you to this tournament if we’re not going to win?’ . . . She’s had to deal with some rough times in her life, but she never made excuses. She’s the hardest working person I know and she’s incredibly loyal. She’d give you the shirt off her back.”

-Blue Jays legendary catcher and broadcaster Buck Martinez, who received the 2023 Jack Graney Award on Saturday, says it was his father, John, who introduced him to baseball. “My father had a lot to do with it. He actually moved the family from Redding California to Sacramento, so we had a better chance at athletics and sports in general,” said Martinez in the press conference prior to the ceremony on Saturday. “But my mom (Shirley) had a lot to do with it, too, because she was from a family of 13 . . . She was Native American from Northern California and all her brothers were great athletes. So, she would throw me batting practice and she would play catch with me all the time as a four- or five-year-old. So, both my mother and my father were very instrumental in allowing me to play.” Both of Martinez’s parents were World War II veterans. “My mom was in the women’s Army corps and my dad was an engineer that went to France in Normandy.”

-Legendary national team left-hander and 2024 inductee Rod Heisler, who was selected to pitch for Canada in a record 14 international tournaments, told me his father, Leo, didn’t get him into baseball, but he gave him “the opportunity to get involved in baseball” when he was growing up in Moose Jaw, Sask. So did his mother, Nancy. “They took me places and they accommodated me,” said Heisler prior to the induction ceremony, “and for that you can never say thank you enough.” Heisler says both gave “hours and hours of their time” so he could play sports. “My father has a baseball diamond named after him [in Moose Jaw] and rightly so,” said Heisler. “My parents were special.”

-A big thank you to Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations, who devotes countless hours to organizing induction weekend each year. It was an outstanding event. Most don’t think about the long hours, anxiety, sleepless nights and time away from the family that goes into planning an event this magnitude, but Scott has done an excellent for many years — and with the support of his wonderful family. On Saturday, his wife, Sam, and his two sons, Toby and Noah, were working the merchandise table at the induction ceremony. It’s obvious they love and respect their father very much.

– Rod Black, the superstar emcee of the ceremony, brought the festivities on Saturday to a close with an energetic mashup of baseball quotes. He fittingly ending it with: “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch?” This, of course, is the famous quote from Field of Dreams, the 1989 movie inspired by the book, Shoeless Joe, written by Canadian author and Jack Graney Award winner W.P. Kinsella. This scene (click on link below) is an emotional and heart-warming moment between Ray Kinsella and his father, John, who magically appears on the ball diamond that Ray has constructed in the field at his farm. Say, “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch?” when you’re in a crowd of people at almost any ball field in North America and someone will know this scene and someone will likely shed a tear.

-Congratulations to longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer Ron Aitken on being named the 2024 winner of the Randall Echlin Lifetime Volunteer Award, which is given out each year by the Hall. A local school principal, Ron has selflessly supported the Hall of Fame in countless ways over the years – including in the museum, in the community and on the induction committee. I was very happy to see him recognized.

 -It’s without question the best Father’s Day moment in Blue Jays’ history. Fourteen years ago, John McDonald returned to the Blue Jays with a heavy heart five days after delivering the eulogy at his father Jack’s funeral. As one of his final requests, McDonald’s father asked his son to point up to him after he touched home plate following his next home run. The Blue Jays’ smooth-fielding shortstop, who averaged less than two home runs a season, promised he would, but he cautioned his father that it could take a long time. Magically, in his first at bat after his father’s death, McDonald belted a pitch from San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt over the left-field wall at Rogers Centre on Father’s Day. You can watch the home run below:

– Keeping with the Father’s Day theme, I wanted to share this photo (below) of former Montreal Expos second baseman Delino DeShields and his son Delino DeShields Jr., who’s currently an outfielder with the Charleston Dirty Birds of the independent Atlantic League, from DeShields Jr.’s Instagram page. DeShields Jr. was born on August 16, 1992 when his father was in the middle of one of his best seasons with the Expos. That season, the senior DeShields batted .292 with 156 hits – including eight triples – and registered 46 stolen bases as the club’s primary leadoff hitter.

Photo: Delino DeShields Jr.’s Instagram page

– By now, you have probably seen this great photo (below) of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Jr. Longtime Expos fan and baseball historian Warren Campbell pointed out to me a few years ago that this photo was snapped at the last Expos home game in 2002. Batting leadoff for the first time in his career, Guerrero came into that contest with 40 stolen bases and was looking for his 40th home run to become baseball’s second 40-40 man. But it wasn’t to be, he finished 1-for-5, with his sole hit being a double off the centre field wall in the fifth inning.

Photo: Paul Chiasson/AP

-This week’s trivia question: There have been two Canadian father and son combinations that have played in the major leagues. Name one of them. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who is the player in the photo below? Hint: He was the first Toronto Blue Jays pitcher to strike out 10 batters in a regular season game. Hint 2: One season, he threw 244 2/3 innings and 12 complete games for the Blue Jays.) was Jerry Garvin.

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