Walter Hilhorst (left) of Killarney and Ron Toews of Plum Coulee are among the 2013 inductees. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
Mr. Baseball is finally getting his due and is going into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame.
Killarney’s Walter Hilhorst was one of the nine individuals and five teams that were introduced as the 2013 Hall of Fame class at a press conference Monday morning at the Trails West Inn. It wasn’t something Hilhorst expected but it’s something he deserved having been involved with the sport for the last 52 years.
The 70-year-old began playing senior baseball as an 18-year-old in 1960 and played for 23 years. In 1988, he took over as the manager of the Killarney Lakers in the Border West Baseball League, a position he still holds to this day. He also chaired committees that built two new diamonds in Killarney in 1994 and 1995.
All his hard work, however, was a labour of love.
"Just the love of the game, I guess," said Hilhorst, who is looking at leaving the team as a manager but staying on as GM. "It’s a lot of work to keep the team going in this town and keep it alive."
Hilhorst felt honoured to be announced as part of the 2013 class, which also includes Jack Callum, Bev Fisher, Mike Foster, Brian Hodgson, Terry Kirlin and Glen Hunter, who are all from Winnipeg, as well as Plum Coulee’s Ron Toews and Binscarth’s Bob Paradine.
"It’s a great honour, especially to go in the Hall of Fame with all these other people," Hilhorst said. "A lot of them I know and I’m really excited."
Paradine was supposed to enter the Hall of Fame last year, but asked to be held back a year while his family supported his wife and her battle with cancer.
The Baseball Hall of Fame also held a press conference in Winnipeg to announce the inductees at the same time. Even though Toews now lives in Winnipeg, he drove to Brandon for his announcement. He made the decision because of how much he enjoyed his time in Brandon.
"(I came to the announcement in Brandon) because I enjoyed my best success here," Toews said. "I know the guys that I played with here in Brandon with the Cloverleafs. It was a great four or five years here and I enjoyed every minute of it. We’ve had a some great friendships over the years here, so I just had to be here."
Toews joined the Brandon Cloverleafs as a pitcher in 1964 and spent five years with the club, including the 1968 season when he travelled from Winnipeg to play in Brandon. The 67-year-old helped guide the Cloverleafs to an MSBL and provincial crown in 1966 and joined the Ste. Agathe Bisons at nationals in 1970.
Joining the individual Hall of Famers are the 1991-96 Boissevain Centennials, who won five South West Baseball League titles in that span, as well as the 1999-2004 Birtle Blue Jays, who won the MSBL and Manitoba Senior AAA crowns in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The 1961 Oakland Braves, who won a provincial title, and the 1957 Oil Dome All-Stars, who won the first Protect Our Nation’s Youth (PONY) national championship, are also being inducted, as is Miami’s baseball team from 1956-61.
The induction ceremony will be held on June 1 at the Morden Event Access Centre.
Tickets are available from Jack Hrehirchuk at 204-638-6923 or from Morris Mott at 204-726-5167.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 30, 2012