Speaking during the media session for the 2014 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductions, former Montreal Expos star Tim Wallach believed early on in his career that the team would contend annually for the World Series.
“The 1981 season when we made the playoffs, it was my first full year and such a great time,” he said. “As good as we were, I thought that we would be in this position every year. But we never made the playoffs again. You never know, and that’s what I tell my players now.”
Currently a bench coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wallach was one of four Hall of Fame inductees that included former Expos broadcaster of 32 years, Dave Van Horne, former New York Yankees, Expos and Cincinnati Reds general manager, Canadian Murray Cook, and the late Jim Ridley, also a Canadian native that scouted for the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays for 29 years. Ridley also coached Team Canada at the 1988 Olympics, the Pan Am Games and the World Junior Championship.
A five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Wallach was drafted in 1979 by the Expos and played for the team from 1980 to 1992. He remains the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, hits, doubles, runs batted in and total bases. A California native, Wallach was known as a strong defensive third baseman, often compared to legendary third baseman Brooks Robinson.
Following his time in Montreal, Wallach played three more seasons with the Dodgers and one with the Los Angeles Angels, retiring after the 1996 season.
“With all of the great players that we had in Montreal, it’s pretty amazing that I am the all-time leader in all of the categories,” he said. “It helped that I didn’t like to miss games. Hopefully, someone gets the opportunity to break those records one day.”
Van Horne was the first English voice of the Expos in 1969 until 2000. A broadcaster with the Miami Marlins since 2001, Van Horne is known for his ‘Up, up and away’ home run call and for his final call of the July 28, 1991 perfect game pitched by Dennis Martinez by saying ‘El Presidente El Perfecto.’
“Many years later, I expected that people would be talking about Dennis Martinez and not my final call. It was a wonderful experience that day, much like most of time spent in Montreal,” said Van Horne.
A native of Sackville, New Brunswick, and current scout with the Tigers, Cook was a general manager with the Expos from 1984 until 1986.
“Of the time spent in Montreal, I was most proud of how we acquired players and gave them second chances,” said Cook. “We went out and got players like Dennis Martinez and Pascual Perez, who had several productive seasons in Montreal.”
Represented by his three children, Ridley was key in helping the Blue Jays establish a strong scouting presence in Canada from their inception.
“My father’s passion was for teaching and helping players get better,” said his son Shane Ridley. “His most proudest accomplishment was coaching Team Canada to a round robin win over Team USA at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.”
The Saturday afternoon induction ceremony is the culmination of the annual three-day celebration of baseball in St. Mary’s, Ontario, the home of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. This year’s festivities also attracted many former players, including National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Canadian Ferguson Jenkins.