Wallach, Van Horne among Canada's Baseball HOF inductees

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TSN.ca Staff
2/3/2014 9:28:14 AM
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Tim Wallach, Murray Cook and Dave Van Horne - three men whose names were synonymous with the Montreal Expos - will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on June 21.

The Hall also announced on Monday that Canadian national team coach Jim Ridley will be inducted posthumously.

"Tim Wallach and Dave Van Horne are two names that have become synonymous with the Montreal Expos, and both have had a significant impact on baseball in this country, and Murray Cook and Jim Ridley helped blaze a trail for Canadians in the professional scouting and executive ranks," said Scott Crawford, the hall's director of operations said in a statement. "We're proud and excited to celebrate their careers in St. Marys this June."

Wallach is the Expos' all-time leader in several statistical categories, including games played (1,767), hits (1,694), doubles (360), RBI (905) and total bases (2,728). Nicknamed "Eli" by his teammates, Wallach also ranks third all-time amongst Expos in runs (737) and fourth in home runs (204).

Chosen 10th overall by the Expos in the 1979 amateur draft, Wallach began his big league career as an outfielder before evolving into the best third baseman in the franchise's history. In 13 seasons with the Expos from 1980 to 1992, Wallach was selected to five all-star games (1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990), won three Gold Gloves (1985, 1988, 1990) and captured two Silver Slugger Awards (1985, 1987). He was also named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team in 1981, topped the National League in doubles in 1987 and 1989 and finished fourth in National League MVP voting in 1987.

Van Horne began his Montreal career behind the mike with the Expos' first game on April 8, 1969 until the end of the 2000 season. He became known for his trademark catch-phrases like "Up, up and away!" when the Expos hit a home run. In his 32 seasons with the Expos, he broadcast the down-to-the-wire pennant races in 1979 and 1980, the team's only post-season run in 1981 and Dennis Martinez's perfect game on July 28, 1991 – a performance that inspired, perhaps, his most famous call, "El Presidente, El Perfecto!"

In 2001, Van Horne accepted the radio play-by-play position with the Florida Marlins and he would later broadcast the club's World Series-winning 2003 campaign.

In 1996, Van Horne received the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's Jack Graney Award for broadcasting excellence and 15 years later, he was the recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's equivalent honour, the Ford C. Frick Award. Now entering his 46th year of broadcasting major league games, Van Horne is set to become the second Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee (Tom Cheek is the other) to have won both the Jack Graney and Ford C. Frick Awards.

Born in Sackville, N.B. in 1940, Murray Cook has spent more than half a century in professional baseball. After graduating from Ohio University with a master's degree in history in 1962, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played shortstop and third base in the lower levels of their system for parts of four years, before hanging up his spikes to become the general manager of their Class-A affiliate in Gastonia in 1966.

The Pirates promoted him to their big league front office in 1967. He was named the team's assistant farm director the following year and soon rose through the ranks to become the club's assistant director of minor league operations in 1972 and director of scouting in 1977.

After 21 years in the Pirates organization, Cook was hired to be the New York Yankees scouting director in January 1983. Just over six months later, he was named the club's general manager, becoming just the second Canadian to be a big league GM (Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk was the Washington Senators' GM from 1964 to 1969). Cook remains just one of five Canadians to serve as a GM at the major league level. The others are Selkirk, Gord Ash (Toronto Blue Jays, 1995 to 2001), Doug Melvin (Texas Rangers, 1994 to 2001; Milwaukee Brewers, 2003 to present) and Alex Anthopoulos (Toronto Blue Jays, 2009 to present).

In 1984, Cook was reassigned to the position of vice-president and director of scouting with the Yankees, before he replaced John McHale as general manager of the Expos on September 5 of that year. Drafting Randy Johnson, signing free agent Dennis Martinez and rebuilding the Expos into a surprising contender were among the highlights of his close to three years in Montreal.

Following his tenure with the Expos, he served as the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 1988 and 1989. Since 1990, he has worked in scouting capacities for the Minnesota Twins, Miami Marlins, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. In 2010, he was named East Scout of the Year for his contributions to the scouting field. He is currently the Tigers' East Coast regional cross checker.

After two seasons as an outfielder in the Milwaukee Braves organization in 1964 and 1965, Toronto native Jim Ridley returned to Canada where he would have a significant impact on baseball in his home country for the next four decades.

While continuing his playing career in the Intercounty Baseball League – where he was named league MVP with Stratford Hillers in 1974 – Ridley launched his storied coaching and scouting career. He began as a part-time scout with the Detroit Tigers in 1973, before joining the Toronto Blue Jays in 1976 to run the club's first tryout camp in Utica, N.Y.  In his 26 years as a scout with the Blue Jays, Ridley was the driving force behind the club's decisions to sign Canadians like Paul Spoljaric, Rob Butler and David Corrente. He also served as a coach with the Blue Jays' rookie-level affiliate in Medicine Hat from 1978 to 1980.

A highly respected coach at the local level, Ridley also coached the Canadian junior national team from 1983 to 1988, leading the squad to bronze medals at the World Junior Baseball Championship in 1983 and 1987. In 1988, he coached the Canadian Olympic baseball team and three years later, he was tabbed to manage Canada's squad at the Pan Am Games. Starting in 2002, Ridley served as a scout with the Minnesota Twins. Rene Tosoni and Jon Waltenbury are among the Canadians he signed and brought into the Twins organization.

Ridley passed away from cancer on November 28, 2008. Each year, the Canadian Baseball Network presents the Jim Ridley Award to the country's top scout in his memory.

Dave Van Horne (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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