Pan Am Games picture making progress

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Hall of Fame Induction

* Canada enters the 2015 Pan-Am Games next July in Ajax as the defending champs after Scott Richmond (North Vancouver, BC) struck out the final Team USA hitter for a 2-1 win in the gold medal game in Mexico in 2011. The gold game the 2011 team induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Pan Am Games baseball picture making progress

By Danny Gallagher

Did you notice that when the Pan Am host committee released details of the top selling tickets for next July’s events in the GTA, men’s baseball was nowhere to be found.

Do you want to know why, considering baseball will be a popular sport when the event gets up and rolling?

“We don’t have a schedule made up,’’ explained Jim Baba of Baseball Canada. “We don’t know who is playing who yet.’’

And of course, there is a reason the schedule isn’t made up: some teams still need to qualify for the tournament.

Canada, as the host country, is an automatic entry as is the U.S. which was granted entry by COPABE (Confederacion Panamericana de Béisbol) because of logistics involved in determining when the Americans could play in a qualifying tournament.

“In any qualifying tournament, the U.S. was probably going to be in the top three anyway so COPABE granted them an exemption,’’ Baba said. “Until we find out what teams have qualified, we don’t know, for example, if Canada is playing the U.S. or what.’’

In the end, you can be sure that ticket sales will surge once the final slate of seven teams is known. Besides defending champion Canada and the U.S., Venezuela and Cuba have qualified for the Games to be played at the President’s Choice Pan Am Ballpark in the Toronto east suburb of Ajax, which will play host to both men’s/women’s baseball and softball.

Baba said Mexico and Puerto Rico will soon decide amongst themselves which country will come and another tournament is slated for South America (Peru perhaps) at which time two more countries will qualify for the 2015 event.

Canada’s coaching staff has yet to be determined.

Will Ernie Whitt return as head coach along with bench coach Larry Walker and pitching coach Denis Boucher? Whitt is associated with the Philadelphia Phillies, Walker isn’t tied to any team, while Boucher is employed by the New York Yankees as a scout.

Another Team Canada coach, Tim Leiper, the Blue Jays first base coach, is a question mark, too, because the Pan Am Games take place halfway through the Major League season. Leiper would need clearance from the Jays to join the national squad for close to two weeks.

Who knows, former Canadian-born major-leaguers/current broadcasters such as Matt Stairs and Joe Siddall might be considered. Stairs is a commentator for the Phillies, Siddall for the Jays.

The women’s baseball tournament will feature five teams. Canada began playing international ball in 2004 when it played host to the IBAF championship in Edmonton.

Andre Lachance is coach of Canada’s women’s baseball team.

“In the men’s baseball tournament, up to 65,000 seats will be available over nine days of competition,’’ said Pan Am Games publicist Fulvio Martinez. “Tickets start at $20 and general ticket sales which will operate on a first-come, first-served basis, will commence Dec. 8th.’’

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