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'Induction day': Baseball legends at Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys

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Russell Martin was taken aback when he walked into the plaque room at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (CBHOF) for the first time.

“There's pictures of pretty much just the history of baseball in Canada…it feels like a movie, it doesn't even feel real,” said the former Toronto Blue Jay, who was inducted into the CBHOF this year. “I have to pinch myself because it feels like a dream”.

Martin was one of the inductees present Saturday at the CBHOF. He joins Ashley Stephenson, Howard Birnie, Rod Heisler, Paul Godfrey, and Jimmy Key as those going into the hall.

“It's kind of hard to, to process that this picture is going to be up there for, you know, for my lifetime,” added Martin, who played 1,693 games in the Major Leagues. “When those days are over, it'll still be up there. A lot a lot of these pictures, like, especially the older ones, I don't know who these guys are, but they've obviously played a big part of Canadian history.”

Russell Martin looks at his plaque at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. on June 15, 224. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)Ashley Stephenson becomes the first female from the modern era inducted into the hall.

“it’s like the old saying, if you can see it, you can be it,” said Stephenson, a former member of Canada’s National team.

“When I grew up playing, I didn't see anybody on TV, especially, watching the Jays like everybody else. I saw Devon White, Joe Carter. They were excellent people and great role models. Now you can turn on the TV and you can see women. Hazel Mae is one we see every single day when we turn on the TV, and women are starting to break down barriers. I'm happy to be a really small piece of that,” said Stephenson.

Inductees (L-R) Russell Martin, Ashley Stephenson, Rod Heisler, Paul Godfey at Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. on June 15, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)She said she always played the game because she loved it, but is happy to be considered a “trailblazer or pioneer.”

“Hopefully I inspire the next generation of young girls,’ said Stephenson, who is a coach for the Vancouver Canadians, a Blue Jays affiliate. “There's lots of things to be done to continue to have this movement forward, but if you think about the WNBA, the new Canadian Women's Soccer League and the PWHL, those are all really, really positive things, for women.”

Former Toronto Blue Jays catcher and current broadcaster Buck Martinez is in town.

He’s being honoured as the Jack Graney Award winner for making a “significant contribution to the game in Canada.”

“Jack Graney and I had an awful lot in common,” said Martinez. “He was a former player that went into the broadcast booth for the Cleveland Indians and actually broadcast longer than he played, much like myself. I was fortunate that at the time, that TSN offered me the opportunity to get into television [in] 1987 and I thought, wow, it would be something. I was fortunate to have many great people around me that helped me.”

Inductee Rod Heisler looks at his plaque in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. on June 15, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)Martinez was thrilled to be among those celebrating this special weekend, as he made his way to the small community in Perth County.

“The first time I've been in Saint Marys,” said Martinez.

“It's a wonderful community, obviously, it's a lot like Cooperstown in New York. To have my family, my wife, some special friends here to share this day with me, and the entire weekend, it's been very special. The Canadian Hall of Fame did a great job of making us feel honored.” 

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