It's Hall of Fame weekend, with the induction of Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo coming up Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown. The festivities start today at historic Doubleday Field as FOX announcer Tim McCarver accepts the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence and longtime Toronto Sun writer Bob Elliott (left) accepts the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing as presented by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
It's the first time a Canadian writer has been honored with the Spink Award (see city list of winners here) and I can tell you first-hand the BBWAA made a spectacular choice. Elliott, who has covered baseball in Canada since the late 1970s, is one of my favorite writers and I have read his work chronicling the Blue Jays since the team's glory days of the 1980s and early 90s.
He is known as the foremost expert on baseball in Canada, with encyclopedic knowledge of not just the big leagues -- but virtually every key amateur and minor-league player from the Great White North.
His Sun archive section is here and you can see his fascinating mix of stories about MLB and the Canadian bushes. There's no one else like him.
Elliott is revered by Canadians such as Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, Larry Walker, Justin Morneau, Joey Votto and former Canisius pitcher John Axford as well as prominent amateur and collegiate officials, often giving praise in his columns to native Canadians like Canisius coach Mike McRae.
When I'm in the Rogers Centre press box and can exchange a quick hello with Elliott and he inevitably asks, "how are things in Buffalo?" it's just quite simply a kick. He's a legend.
Toronto Sun columnist Bill Lankhof penned an incredible piece on Elliott this week. Sure, it's long but it really gives you an idea what makes the man tick. Columnist Steve Simmons, hired at the Sun a few weeks after Elliott in 1987, authored his feelings yesterday.
Simmons made a point I've always noticed about Elliott: He's never -- and I mean never -- in the midst of a media scrum in the Jays' clubhouse. He's off on his own talking to someone else most of the time. And not always a player. A coach, a trainer, a broadcaster, whoever. It's always fascinated me to see him work a room like that while television cameras are breathlessly trying to get worthless sound bites. It's old-school journalism and it still works.
Things are great in Buffalo, sir, and thanks for asking. And big congratulations to you from this side of the border.
(Toronto Sun photo of Elliott Friday in Cooperstown)