Melvin selected for Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

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Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
— As a young boy, Doug Melvin’s dream was to follow star pitcher Ferguson Jenkins’ path from Chatham, Ontario, to the major leagues.

That goal never materialized but Plan B has worked quite nicely for Melvin.

The Brewers’ general manager received yet another honor this off-season when it was announced Tuesday he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Melvin joins Rusty Staub, Rheal Cormier and the 2011 Team Canada senior national squad as inductees for 2012.

Melvin, who received two executive of the year honors earlier in the winter, said he never saw this tribute coming.

“I never gave it much thought,” Melvin said during a conference call with media from Canada and the U.S. “It’s pretty exciting. I’m very humbled and honored to be recognized at this point.”

Melvin, who will be inducted June 29 at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Mary’s, Ontario, talked about Jenkins being his idol as a player and former Toronto and Philadelphia general manager Pat Gillick being his inspiration as an executive.

“It’s pretty exciting for me, growing up in Chatham, Ontario. That’s where Fergie Jenkins was from,” said Melvin. “That’s who inspired me to play baseball. It was probably a good idea to turn my hockey skates in and started focusing on baseball. I was fortunate to sign a contract and play six years in the minor leagues; never played in the major leagues.

“Then I was inspired by Pat Gillick as an executive. Being recognized back in my home country means a lot to me. I’m very excited about it. I just wish as an executive I had more opportunity to get back home. But I recognize what the Hall of Fame has done and am very appreciative of the honor.”

Melvin originally signed as a pitcher with Pittsburgh but was released after two minor-league seasons. He then tried out with the New York Yankees, for whom Gillick was farm director at the time.

Pat’s always been an inspiration for any general manager in the major leagues,” said Melvin. “But he impacted me even before then because I probably might not have been in baseball if Pat hadn’t taken 10-15 minutes to see me throw on the sideline. I owe a lot to Pat just for that one tryout.

“I knew I was no longer a prospect at the major-league level. My mind-set started focusing on the scouting and player development aspect. Just watching the success that Pat and (then assistant) Gord Ash and their staff had over the years in Toronto, you couldn’t help but recognize what they did.

“(Gillick) values everybody’s job in this business. That’s something I learned from him and from my mentor, Roland Hemond. The players are the most important part of the game but there are so many other people in the game and you have to respect the positions they are in, including your scouts and player development people. He had such high regard for some of those people.”

Melvin has stayed on top of baseball in Canada, including having special assistant Dick Groch often scout there. The Brewers have signed many players from that country, including successful closer John Axford.

“I’ve always looked for the players there that were given the opportunity,” said Melvin. “I’ve always considered them a little of an underdog. They’ve done a great job in Canada in how baseball has grown.”

Melvin noted that he has no college degree but grew up in the game.

and learned from people such as Gillick and Hemond, utilizing that experience to get where he is today.

“You just have to have a passion for the game,” said Melvin. “You’ve got to spread the word. Baseball has become popular in Canada and there are very talented players coming from there. You stay in touch with people and have respect for the game.”

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio praised Melvin for both his election to the Canadian Hall as well as his work in the majors.

“This is a meaningful and richly deserved honor for Doug, and everyone at the Milwaukee Brewers congratulates him on this special occasion,” said Attanasio. “His impressive record of bringing two franchises (Texas and Milwaukee) each their first playoff teams in 25 years has earned him recognition as one of the great general managers in Major League Baseball.

Last updated: 7:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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