Bob Elliot, long-time Toronto Sun baseball reporter and what most consider to be the premier reporter in his field, has released his 2016 edition of “Bob Elliots 101 most influential Canadians in baseball.”
This year’s edition included the likes of Russell Martin of the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball hall-of-famer, Fergie Jenkins.
One name on this list hits a little bit closer to home here in Waterloo: Laurier’s men’s baseball team head coach, Scott Ballantyne.
Ballantyne took over the head coach position for the team back in 2007, where he was honoured with OUA coach of the year.
However, Ballantyne’s influence was unnoticed by Elliot until the team’s hazing scandal in 2012, where he was able to turn the team around the following year and lead team to victory at the aforementioned OUA championship.
Ballantyne was also the general manager of the Kitchener Panthers, president of OUA Baseball Coaches Association, and head coach for his son’s minor rookie baseball team in Waterloo. He also sits on the board of directors for the league.
“It is definitely an honour to be on the list. Knowing that all the people on the [list] and the vast majority of the honourable mentions are involved in baseball full-time, it’s gratifying to know that as someone who has a full-time job outside of baseball I can still make the list,” Ballantyne said.
Ballantyne credits his coaching success to the years of experience his assistant coaches – past and present – bring to the team. Dennis Schooley, Dan Creechan, George Moore and JD Yari have really stood out for Ballantyne in the years that he has coached at Laurier.
The university holds a special place in Ballantyne’s heart, as Laurier is where he completed his undergraduate degree and played baseball. He credits his drive as a coach to his ability to continue to grow the program he once played for.
“Being a former player, I can put myself in the shoes of the student-athletes and know the demands that are put on them, especially around exam time and I think that helps me to keep baseball into perspective as they are students first,” Ballanytne said.
After making the playoffs this season and losing two close games, Ballantyne looks to continue success in upcoming years.
Callum Murphy of the Golden Hawks will continue to improve from his experience as he played for Team Great Britain at the European Baseball Championship this past fall.
“Any chance you can get to represent your country is special and my two stints with Collegiate Team Canada were unbelievable experiences. One of the key goals for us in the OUA is to grow our sport nationally and establish a National Championship in Canada,” Ballantyne said.
“It’s very important to me and the other OUA coaches to continue to grow our game at the national level.”