Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame set for 2024 Induction Weekend – Martin, Key, Stephenson, Godfrey, Birnie, and Heisler to be honoured

Photo credit:© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
28 days ago

Roughly two hours from the Rogers Centre down the 401 highway sits the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (CBHFM), situated in the quaint town of St. Marys. With multiple diamonds and a museum full of baseball artifacts, the CBHFM was founded in 1982 and made its home in St. Marys in 1998, with the idea of preserving baseball artifacts and celebrating players, teams, and individuals who have contributed to the game with a Canadian connection for years to come.
This weekend, the CBHFM will be honouring a new set of inductees into their ranks as part of the 2024 class – with six new faces being added: Russell Martin, Ashley Stephenson, Paul Godfrey, Jimmy Key, Rod Heisler, and Howard Birnie. Since 1983, the CBHFM has been inducting members into the Hall of Fame – individuals across the country and even in the United States who have impacted baseball within Canada in one way or another.
Russell Martin and Jimmy Key are notable names who spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays at some point in their respective careers. Martin, a product of Toronto, Ont. who grew up in Montreal, Que., is one of the most revered Canadian-born catchers to play the game and spent four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays – including their 2015 and 2016 playoff runs. Martin finds himself in the top five in most offensive statistical categories amongst Canuck baseball players and ranks fourth amongst positional players in terms of games played (1693).
While born in Huntsville, Alabama, Key enters the CBHFM for his contributions with the Toronto Blue Jays – a nine-year career spanning from 1984 to 1992 and winning a World Series with the Jays in his final year with the club. Amongst the franchise pitching leaderboards, Key’s name is seen numerous times across his 317 appearances with Toronto.
Joining the two former Jays is Paul Godfrey, an instrumental part in bringing Major League Baseball to Toronto. He helped lead the charge on getting Exhibition Stadium retrofitted for baseball and later became an executive with the Blue Jays in 2000, staying in the position as president and CEO for eight years.
Another Canuck baseball player is entering the hall in Ashley Stephenson, one of the most decorated Canadian female baseball players of all time. Stephenson was an inaugural member of the 2004 Team Canada squad and helped lead the team to seven medals across 15 seasons. Following her playing career, Stephenson turned to coaching and later became the first woman to manage the National squad during a five-game series against the United States in 2022. The Mississauga product is now a member of the Vancouver Canadians coaching staff (Blue Jays high-A affiliate) and was the first woman to earn Baseball Canada’s Lionel Ruhr Elite Coach of the Year Award in 2022.
Rounding out the group are Rod Heisler and Howard Birnie.
There has been no better representative for Canada than Heisler, who has appeared in a record 14 international competitions for the National squad. A left-handed pitcher from Moose Jaw, Sask., Heisler pitched for Canada at the 1984 Olympics and was named to the 1988 roster as well.
In terms of those involved in Canadian baseball, there are not many who can outpace Howard Birnie. The Toronto product has spent over 70 years in the game either as a player, coach, umpire, or executive – including being the president for numerous associations such as the Toronto Baseball Association, the Ontario Baseball Association, and the Leaside Baseball Association. He spent 34 years behind the plate as an umpire and has earned numerous awards for his volunteer work, with Birnie still holding a director role with the Ontario Baseball Association.
Festivities are set to begin tonight at the Rogers Centre at the Corona Rooftop Patio – an event deemed “The Opening Pitch”. Friday will play host to the 26th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic and Banquet in St. Marys which will be attended by the inductees and numerous former Jays and Canadian baseball players (amongst others). There is also a silent auction currently ongoing, featuring experiences and autographs from current and former baseball players.
Rounding out the weekend is the induction ceremony at the Hall of Fame on Saturday. Baseball games will be played on the fields for most of the day while the induction ceremony will take place at 1:00 pm EST, with attendance being free for those interested. Buck Martinez will also be presented with the Jack Graney Award at this time. Jimmy Key will not be in attendance for the weekend ceremonies.

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