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BEYOND LOCAL: Major League Baseball legends coming to St. Marys

Former MLB Canadian-born pitchers, Rich Harden and Denis Boucher, to be honoured during weekend ceremony
Memorabilia from the inductees at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys.

All the bases were covered when selecting a diverse group of entrants into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. 

This year's class includes two former Major League Baseball Canadian-born pitchers: Rich Harden from B.C., and Denis Boucher, of Quebec. 

There is also Joe Wiwchar, who has dedicated seven decades of his life to baseball in Manitoba. 

Former MLB star Jessie Barfield is also getting the nod, joining teammates and past inductees George Bell and Lloyd Moseby, which will round out the enshrinement of one of the best outfields of it's era. 

Scott Crawford, director of operations at the St. Marys-based hall of fame, said a diverse board of directors from across Canada picks the inductees and ensures "a good mix" of contributors to the sport in Canada are chosen each year. 

Those selections include former Blue Jay John Olerud and Jacques Doucet, a French language voice of the Blue Jays, who are being recognized on the weekend as part of the 2020 class. The pandemic shut the hall of fame for a few years, so they are retroactively recognizing past classes, Crawford said. 

Organizers and volunteers were getting the ceremonial "big tent" set-up on Tuesday afternoon as anticipation builds for an annual weekend that should draw upwards of 1,000 fans to town.

Events actually get started in Toronto, when Left Field Brewery hosts an induction weekend launch meet-and-greet (sold out) with inductees, on Thursday.

Crawford said that event helps spread the word about the induction ceremony and helps educate about the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. 

The celebrity golf tournament is Friday at St. Marys Golf and Country Club. 

New to the induction weekend this year is the unveiling of Ferguson Jenkins Way, a previously unnamed street that runs through an area of the museum and its ball fields. 

St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee said Jenkins, already in Canada's Baseball Hall of Fame, deserves the added honour. 

"I know some people wanted to do more things for Fergie. He's there almost every year," Strathdee said of one of Canada baseball's biggest supporters. "My family and I shot the breeze with him. He is very kind. Very giving of himself," the mayor said. 

"To me he is as down to earth as they come. I have seen him stand for hours and give autographs."

Crawford also said the Jenkins honour is well-deserved. 

The unveiling of Ferguson Jenkins Way starts at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday. The induction ceremony starts at 1 p.m. and is free to attend. 

You can learn more about the inductees on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame website virtual exhibit.

Itinerary for Saturday: 

9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. - Inductee press conference inside Museum (386 Church St. S.) (media only)
10:15 a.m. - “Ferguson Jenkins Way” name unveiling to take place near museum!
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Museum open to public for tours
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Ballgames on the site
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Induction Ceremony for Jesse Barfield, Denis Boucher, Rich Harden and Joe Wiwchar, plus 2020 Inductees John Olerud and Jacques Doucet at the Hall of Fame (386 Church St. S.).
3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Autograph session with inductees Jesse Barfield, Denis Boucher, Rich Harden, Joe Wiwchar, John Olerud, Jacques Doucet, Bill Humber, Steve Rogers, Fergie Jenkins, Claude Raymond. Plus Billy Atkinson, Rich Butler, George Kottaras, Aaron Myette, and others.