The Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Winnipeg Goldeyes owner Sam Katz will be inducted into the hall of fame this summer as a builder.
Katz, 62, purchased an expansion franchise in the Northern League in 1994 and named the team the Winnipeg Goldeyes, a name which was originally used by an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1950s and 60s. The Goldeyes won the league championship in 1994 and have been one of the most successful minor league baseball franchises during the past 20 years.
"This is an incredible honour for me and the entire Goldeyes organization," Katz said. "We have received tremendous support from the baseball community across the province during the past two decades and it is a privilege to be recognized in this way."
Following the 2010 season, the Goldeyes joined the American Association and won the league championship in 2012. Winnipeg was named the American Association's Organization of the Year last month, marking the third consecutive year the team won that award. Going back to the Northern League, the Goldeyes have been recognized as organization of the year eight times in the last 11 seasons.
At the gate, the Goldeyes led all independent baseball teams in attendance this past season with an average of 5,879 fans per game. Winnipeg has led all independent teams in average attendance in 10 of the last 12 seasons.
Because of the Goldeyes being in Winnipeg, no less than a dozen Manitoba players have had the opportunity to play professional baseball, including pitcher Donnie Smith, who was inducted into the hall of fame in 2012 and holds the Goldeyes record for most appearances by a pitcher.
The Goldeyes moved from Winnipeg Stadium to Shaw Park in 1999 and thousands of Manitoba baseball players have had the opportunity to play in a professional ballpark. Every spring an summer, Shaw Park also hosts the University of Winnipeg Wesmen program and numerous Baseball Manitoba events.
Former Goldeyes chaplain Lorne Korol will also be inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the 1989-1994 Elmwood Giants.