“When he finished playing baseball, he went on to try to make baseball on ice into a thing,” Cronsberry said. “He is like, I am a Canadian, I like hockey, I like baseball and I should be able to do both at the same time. He didn’t succeed, obviously, because that is not a thing we do, but I just really like that he tried.”
The modern inductees have more traditional résumés. While Yankees fans will flock to Cooperstown for closer Mariano Rivera’s induction, it was Thomson, the Phillies bench coach who spent 28 seasons in the Yankees organization, who was honored in St. Mary’s last month.
During his speech, Thomson, who played on the Canadian Olympic team in 1984, recalled his first experience in the major leagues, as a special assignment instructor for the Yankees in 2004. After the memorable Game 7 American League Championship Series loss to the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium that year, Thomson walked into Manager Joe Torre’s office and asked, “Skip, how are you doing?”
Torre looked up over his glasses.
“I’m doing fine,” Torre said, “but I’m a little worried about you.”
“What are you talking about?” Thomson said.
“Because we never did this before until you got here,” Torre said.
Many of the Canadian inductees are aware that their credentials would not get them to Cooperstown, which has welcomed 323 inductees since opening in 1939. The process for induction to the Canadian hall is not far from its American counterpart: Nominees must be retired for three years; either be Canadian or “have done something significant in baseball in Canada,” according to the hall’s website; and must receive 75 percent of a vote by a group of 24 people including members of the news media, past inductees, historians and executives.
One more link between the two halls will be added on Sunday. Roy Halladay, who was inducted into the Canadian hall in 2017, four months before he died when the small plane he was piloting crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, will be enshrined posthumously in Cooperstown. Ash, who drafted Halladay in 1995 when he was the Blue Jays’ general manager, recalled the message that Halladay concluded his speech with in St. Mary’s.