Sun scribe gets Canadian Baseball Hall honour

Ryan Pyette, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

ST. MARYS, Ont. — Baseball is a game played without a clock.

Newspapers always have deadlines.

But despite that considerable hurdle, Bob Elliott keeps finding out what makes the game and its personalities tick.

The veteran Toronto Sun columnist received the Jack Graney Award for a lifetime of media excellence in the sport Saturday at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Mary’s.

“It’s more difficult now than it was (two decades ago) because access (to the players) is more limited,” Elliott said, “but I feel like I know Jose Bautista just as well as I do (Canadian hall of famer Tom Henke, for example) because he’s been around a while and I’ve written so much about him.”

Elliott has long been known for going beyond the stats and digging into players’ backgrounds.

“The old line (at the Sun) was if I going to talk to a player’s little league coach or his T-ball coach,” Elliott quipped.

Even the most polished and respected reporters, though, go through their own big-league initiations.

“When I started covering baseball, it was with the Expos and because of sponsorship, we had a seat on the charter,” he said. “We travelled with the team and the first time, I figured the reporters would all be at the back. I went to sit down and Warren Cromartie said to me, “Get out of the back of the plane. This is our ghetto.’”

At that time, the union bargained players would be entitled to one-and-a-half seats each, which meant in a row of three, one would get a window and another would get the aisle with one seat in between.

“Razor Shines had just been called up and (former Expos traveling secretary) Peter Durso told me to go sit beside him. But it was only a row of two and Steve Rogers, the union rep, stepped in and said I couldn’t because Razor wouldn’t have one-and-a-half seats.”

Baseball players had the reputation in the media of being the least approachable of the major sports, but Elliott always found a way to bridge the gap.

“We do ask dumb questions,” Elliott said. “One game, Jack Morris pitched four innings, then there was a rain delay, and he came back out, pitched one inning and left. I asked him afterwards if he pitched that inning to get his ERA under 4.00 and he just looked at me. Hey, it was a dumb question.”

Dave Stieb, the old Toronto Blue Jays ace, was the toughest nut to crack.

“It was difficult with Stieb,” Elliott said. “He was hurt once and I asked him how he was and he told me, ‘You asked me the same thing five days ago.’”

No one charts the progress of Canadian players more meticulously than Elliott. He wanted to find out how many Canadians were playing baseball down south and was told it would be nearly impossible to chart them all.

“I took it as a challenge,” he said.

And these days, there are over 700 of them if anyone wants to know, all they have to do is read, call or e-mail Bob Elliott.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RyanAtLFPress

JACK GRANEY AWARD

(Given to the media member who has made a significant contribution to baseball in Canada through their life’s work)

2010: Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun and canadianbaseballnetwork.com (presented Saturday at the Canadian Baseball hall of fame and museum in St. Marys)

2009: Ian MacDonald, Montreal Gazette

2005: Len Bramson, TBS Sports

2004: Jacques Doucet, Montreal Expos

2003: Allan Simpson, Baseball America

2002: Erie Harwell, Detroit Tigers

2001: Tom Cheek, Toronto Blue Jays

1986: Dave Van Horne, TSN, CIQC


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