Hall Of Fame Recognition

We mentioned two of the inductees for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, so now we will introduce you to the following newest members.

First we must remember that all of the inductees, past or present at one point was simply a volunteer or had a volunteer help them along the way, so it’s only fitting that we say “Thanks” to the Volunteers!!

Rob Thomson (Sarnia Ontario)

Growing up in Corunna, located just outside Sarnia led him to a stellar career, but first he made his mark for the Inter-county League’s Stratford Hillers in the early ’80s, and recruited by Yankees scout Dick Groch, to play for St. Clair Community College for one season then transferred to the University of Kansas.

He was on the Canadian squad that competed in the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (1984) when baseball was only a demonstration sport and the next year he was selected in the 32nd round of the MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers.

He played both catcher and third base and managed to advance as high as the class-A level ball then turned his attention his to coaching in 1988 serving as a minor league coach in the Tigers system for two seasons.

In 1990 he joined the Yankees and for the following 28 seasons he became one of the most respected coaches at the professional level of the game.

He was eventually hired as the Yankees bench coach and managed three games in the absence of Joe Girardi becoming the first Canadian to manage a major league contest since George Gibson with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934.

He was the Yankees’ third base coach (2009-2014) where he played a huge role on the 2009 World-Series-winning club.

He also organized spring training for the Yankees since 1998 and secured five World Series rings during his time with the franchise, but December 2017 saw him get hired by the Philadelphia Phillies as their bench coach and currently in his second season with the club.

Gord Ash (Toronto)

He calls Toronto home and was born in 1951 in Toronto, but never actually got to start his career in the ticket office with the Blue Jays in 1977.

He served in several roles as requested advancing up in the structure of the organization, which included Assistant Director of operations (1980 – 1983),  Player Personnel Administrator (1984 – 1988) and eventually Assistant GM in 1989.

During his five (5) years as Assistant GM he worked on player contracts, including those for key free agent signings such as Dave Winfield, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor and Dave Stewart who helped win back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

Pat Gillick, Blue Jays GM and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer left following the 1994 season he was promoted and named only the fourth Canadian to be a GM in the major leagues.

His career spanned seven years as GM the Blue Jays that saw him play a huge role in drafting Roy Halladay (1995), Vernon Wells (1997), Michael Young (1997), Orlando Hudson (1997) and Alex Rios (1999).

His best season as GM was 1998 that saw the team finish 88-74 and if and only if the current postseason format had been in place, the club would’ve claimed the second wild-card spot in the American League.

He has spent over 40 years in pro ball also serving on several MLB committees, including those that have helped shape the collective bargaining process and minor league facility standards.

He is one of six (6) Canadians to serve in the role of GM, with the others being George Selkirk (Huntsville, Ont.), Murray Cook (Sackville, N.B.), Doug Melvin (Chatham, Ont.), Alex Anthopoulos (Montreal, Que.) and Farhan Zaidi (Sudbury, Ont.).

He is also involved with the Special Olympics Canada Foundation making annual donations to various charities in both Ontario and Wisconsin.

Jeff Blair (Kingston Ontario)

He grew up in Morden, Manitoba and attended the University of Manitoba where he got his start in sports journalism becoming the sports editor of the school’s newspaper.

Following his graduation, he worked for the Winnipeg Free Press for five years which was followed up by two years with the Calgary Herald.

He joined the Montreal Gazette (1987) working for over the next decade that saw one of his primary assignments was to cover the Montreal Expos.

He was hired by The Globe and Mail after 10 years in Montreal where he would write articles on baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays for more than a decade prior to joining Sportsnet in 2010.

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Working with Sportsnet saw him evolved into one of the network’s most recognizable personalities hosting the popular weekday morning program “The Jeff Blair Show” on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and also is Sportsnet’s leading baseball analyst.

He is also the co-host of Baseball Central alongside Kevin Barker and is a regular contributor to Blue Jays Central.

He somehow managed to find time to author “Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball” which is a book about the history of the Blue Jays published in 2013.

In all, Blair has spent close to four decades in sports journalism and he has also covered multiple Olympics, World Series and Stanley Cup finals.

Congrats to all the 2019 Inductees on being selected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame!!!!