St. Marys It may take some pushing and shoving on Saturday, June 26 in order to coax the 2004 inductees or their designates onto the stage and into the limelight at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. "Andre Dawson's style was to let his actions on the field do his talking," explained president & CEO Tom Valcke. "Long-time Blue Jays executive Peter Hardy always preferred that others take centre stage. Boston Red Sox owner JJ Lannin was so much a man of the people that he sold his team in order to go back to being a fan. And, like all great umpires, veteran Jim McKean never wanted the spotlight shone his way."
ANDRE "THE HAWK' DAWSON is one of the greatest players to wear a Montreal Expos uniform. He is only one of three players to have his number retired in Montreal, and he is already a member of the Expos Hall of Fame. His long list of awards began when he was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1977. Dawson was the Expos Player of the Year in 1981 and '83, finishing second in NL MVP voting both years. He played in the All-Star game in 1981, '82 and '83. He won Gold Glove Awards in six straight seasons between 1980 and '85, and won the Silver Slugger Award in 1980, '81 and '83. Dawson is one of only four players in Major League history to hit more than 300 homeruns and steal more than 300 bases (the others are Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, and Bobby Bonds). He had seven seasons with 20+ homeruns and 20+ stolen bases, and eight seasons with 80+ RBI. Dawson, whose career spanned 20 years, played 11 seasons for the Expos, and ranks second all-time in their following offensive categories: homeruns, RBI, at bats, runs, total bases, doubles and triples. Dawson was also very community-minded while in Montreal.
"I am surprised and thrilled," Dawson said from his Miami home. "I will always be thankful that the Montreal Expos took a chance on me, and I have a lifetime of joyous memories from being a part of their organization for all those years. To be enshrined in another country's hall of fame is truly an honour."
JAMES "CANADIAN" MCKEAN, a multi-sport star, served as a Major League umpire for 28 years, and is currently works for the Commissioners Office as Supervisor of Umpires. Included in the Montreal native's outstanding career were three All-Star games, eight playoff series and three World Series. In addition to his fabulous career in baseball, McKean, a graduate of Concordia University, played quarterback for Saskatchewan in the CFL. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1963 as well as a Grey Cup title in 1966. He also was a Junior hockey referee, working one Memorial Cup series. McKean also coached basketball at Concordia, and is a state champion racquet ball player.
One of McKean's most noted incidents was in 1993 when he ejected B.J. Birdie, the Toronto Blue Jays' mascot at the time, from a game in Minnesota for making gestures which the umpire found offensive. The Twins beat the Blue Jays 2-1.
Also, on Opening Day in 1976, with the Brewers trailing the Yankees 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Don Money apparently hit a game winning grand slam home run. But the homer was negated because a moment before the pitch, New York's Chris Chambliss had asked for and had been granted time out by first base umpire McKean. Billy Martin was the Yankees manager at the time, and put up one fierce argument. The Yankees won the game 9-6.
From his home in St. Petersburg, McKean said: "I have had many rewarding things happen during my athletic and officiating career, and to be one of the chosen few to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame culminates a life of accomplishment beyond anything I have ever dreamed. Thank you!"
N. E. (PETER) HARDY was the Chairman of the Board of John Labatt Ltd. and it was strongly due to his efforts that that Toronto was able to land the Blue Jays franchise. The London native became the Vice Chairman of the initial board of the Blue Jays in 1976, and was directly involved in the hiring of Peter Bavasi, Pat Gillick and Paul Beeston. On his way to becoming CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Blue Jays, Hardy endorsed the decisions to hire managers Bobby Mattick, Bobby Cox, Jimy Williams and Cito Gaston. Hardy retired in 1990, but continued to serve as Honourary Chairman of the Board and stayed active in the day to day operations of the club through the World Series victories in 1992 and '93, as his replacement, Peter Widderington, was re-assigned to the Commissioner's Office to try to avert the players strike of 1994.
In 1985, Sports Illustrated published a feature called "The Dream Team," where they compiled the best people in Major League Baseball, including players, managers, trainers, coaches and executives. Peter Hardy was chosen as the best executive within Major League Baseball.
When Paul Beeston became president and CEO of Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig often ask him, "What would Peter Hardy do?" Beeston, who strongly supported Hardy's induction, asks, "Is there possibly a stronger endorsement than that?"
Hardy passed away in 1997 at the age of 80. "I am elated to hear this news," said Hardy's widow Dorothy, who resides in London. "It is proper to honour Peter for his tireless devotion to the Blue Jays. Most of his efforts were behind the scenes, and he preferred it that way. It is wonderful that those who may not have known of his contribution to baseball will now learn of it."
JOSEPH JOHN LANNIN, born near Quebec City in 1866, owned the Boston Red Sox from 1914 to 1916, and won two World Series, the most under any individual Red Sox owner. Lannin purchased the contract of Babe Ruth, sent him to Providence (Ruth hit his first professional homerun at Hanlan's Point in Toronto while playing for the Providence Grays), and brought him to the Red Sox in 1914. Lannin considered himself too much of a fan to be an owner, and sold the franchise to Harry Frazee, who eventually sold Ruth to the New York Yankees, changing baseball history. Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino and Boston Mayor Tom Menino wrote letters of endorsement for Lannin, and neither of them would mind at all if Lannin's induction would lead to the elimination of "the curse of the Bambino."
Lannin was an instigator of baseball's farm system which resulted in his multiple ownership of the Red Sox as well as the Providence Grays and Buffalo Bisons, and according to Lucchino, "made an indelible mark on the game and the history of the Red Sox."
Lannin, the ninth of ten children, lived in Quebec until the early 1880's when the cruel economics of 19th century life caused him to seek employment in the New England states. He took his Canadian roots with him and became a prominent lacrosse player in Boston before eventually focusing on the odd combination of tournament checkers and baseball, a sporting choice he shared with the great New York Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson.
The rags to riches Lannin, who died in 1928, began as a bellhop in the Adams Hotel, where he used to sneak out to watch ball games. He progressed to doorman and eventually management. He became wealthy by investing in coffee futures and real estate, and wound up owning a string of hotels and property.
Christopher Tunstall, great grandson of the late JJ Lannin, who resides in Asheville, North Carolina said: On behalf of myself and my family, I thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for this extraordinary honour bestowed posthumously upon Joseph J. Lannin for his impressive contributions to the game of baseball.
"With the number of accomplished nominees exceeding fifty on the current ballot, the Selection Committee really had their work cut out for them this year, and we couldn't be happier with the results," added Valcke. "It is always a bonus to see regional and generational balance represented in the outcome, and we're already planning for another full house in June."
Among the nominees who will remain on the ballot in 2005 are Pete Rose and London native Ted "The Famous Chicken" Giannoulas.
ST. MARYS 26 Februrary 2004