Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to welcome Barfield, Boucher, Harden, Wiwchar

2023 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee and former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jesse Barfield speaks about his path to the MLB and his contribution to growing the game in Canada.

Considered one of the best trios in the big leagues at the time, Jesse Barfield spent his prime years patrolling the Blue Jays outfield with George Bell and Lloyd Moseby. 

He’ll soon join his former teammates in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Barfield was named to the Class of 2023 by the Hall on Wednesday along with Denis Boucher, Rich Harden and Joe Wiwchar. The induction ceremony is set for June 17 in St. Marys, Ont. 

Barfield hit 179 home runs over parts of nine seasons with Toronto. The Joliet, Ill., native also spent four years with the New York Yankees. 

Bell was inducted in 2013 and Moseby got the nod in 2018. Now it’s Barfield’s turn. 

“I knew eventually it would come,” Barfield said on a video call. “I’m not worried about how I got there and how long it took. We’re there and that’s the main thing. 

“The guys that are there now deserve to be there and I knew eventually I would have the chance to get in and it worked out great.”

Boucher, a Montreal native, played for the Blue Jays and Expos over a 10-year pro career that included parts of four seasons in the big leagues. He later served as a pitching coach for the Canadian men’s team.

Harden, a Victoria native, posted a 59-38 career record and 3.76 earned-run average over nine MLB seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

Wiwchar is a longtime Manitoba baseball coach and executive. The Winnipeg native served as an assistant coach on the provincial team that won silver at the 1977 Canada Summer Games.

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“Each of this year’s inductees has had a significant impact on the game of baseball in Canada in their own distinct way,” said Hall board chair Jeremy Diamond. “We’re proud and excited to celebrate their outstanding careers in St. Marys this June.”

The new inductees will be honoured alongside former Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud and former Expos broadcaster Jacques Doucet. They were elected in 2020 but were previously unable to attend the ceremony.

Barfield helped lead the Blue Jays to their first American League East title in 1985 when he hit 27 home runs and drove in 84 runs. He also had 22 stolen bases, 22 outfield assists and finished seventh in MVP voting that year.

“I’m still in disbelief with the news of being voted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame,” he said. “Being drafted by and then playing for the Blue Jays has always meant so much to me and my family. 

“I’m truly honoured, humbled and speechless right now.”

Boucher was the first Canadian to have played for both the Blue Jays and Expos. He made his debut with Toronto in 1991 and was dealt by the San Diego Padres to Montreal two years later. 

On Sept. 6, 1993, at Olympic Stadium, Boucher made his first start for the Expos, with Windsor, Ont., native Joe Siddall behind the plate and Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker in right field.

It was the first time in modern baseball history that three Canadians were in the starting lineup for the same team. Boucher worked six innings in a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Harden, meanwhile, posted 949 strikeouts over his career. His 17.9 WAR ranks sixth all-time among Canadian big-league pitchers.

Wiwchar devoted seven decades to baseball in his home province. He served as a player, coach, volunteer, executive and administrator. 

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