By Greg Price
There will be many interesting subplots to the guest speaker for the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Ninth Annual Awards/Scholarship Fundraising Banquet on Feb. 28 at the Vauxhall Community Hall.
Former Toronto Blue Jay/New York Yankee Homer Bush will be on hand to share his story and give an inspirational speech to people on hand.
Originally drafted by the San Diego Padres, Bush was dealt along with pitcher Hideki Irabu to the New York Yankees organization in 1997. The Padres received outfielder Rubén Rivera and pitcher Rafael Medina in the trade. Bush made the major league roster with the New York Yankees in 1998, and was part of the team’s 1998 World Series championship. After the 1998 season, Bush was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, along with pitchers Graeme Lloyd and David Wells, for pitcher Roger Clemens. Bush played in Toronto from 1999 until 2002. His standout season was in 1999, when he batted .320 and stole 32 bases. But chronic hip injuries cut Bush’s career short, forcing him to retire from Major League Baseball in 2004.
“It’s an exciting year for our guest speaker. He won the World Series as a rookie, got traded to the Blue Jays where he had one tremendous season, but he was hampered by a hip injury that shortened is career,” said Les McTavish, head coach of the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. “He’s fairly young and still part of this generation, maybe not of the players, but the majority of Canadians will remember him as a player. He has a son that is up and coming and is involved in Major League Baseball internationally. There are a lot of neat things that will make him an intriguing part.”
And always, the night will be a celebration of the student/athletes, highlighted by the Reno Lizzi Scholarships as well as several other awards and scholarship presentations.
“It is always exciting, it’s a big deal to our players and is a big deal to our organization, the parents and the alumni,” said McTavish. “The Reno Lizzi scholarships are the pinnacle of what it’s all about. Yukio and Barbara (Kitagawa) have been an integral part of our organization for so many years.”
This year will mark the first year of the Blaine Burbank Award for the hardest worker in the off-season among players.
Burbank was a hugely influential person in the Vauxhall sports scene, including time as the president of the Jets Stadium Society, until having to resign due to health problems during a two-year battle with cancer, passing away in September 2014.
“That makes it extra special being a man who was instrumental in our organization and the community as a whole,” said McTavish. “We want to honour him.”
Marty Baceda will once again be the MC of the event that features silent and live auctions of plenty of high-end sports memorabilia. Some of the highlight auction items will be posted prior to the banquet on the Vauxåhall Academy of Baseball’s Web site.
“We look forward to having new people coming to the banquet. For people who have come in the past, it has been an enjoyable evening,” said McTavish. “We are looking forward to celebrating the current program and honouring the people who have come through the program in the past and the people that support us.”
Tickets are $60 each or $450 for a table of 8. Contact Lynda Unruh at email@example.com or at the high school at 403-654-2145 for tickets.