A longtime Blue Jays beat writer for the Toronto Sun, who started his career at the Woodstock Sentinel Review has won the 2019 Jack Graney award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
NORWICH - A longtime Blue Jays beat writer for the Toronto Sun has been named the winner of the 2019 Jack Graney award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ken Fidlin is honoured to win the prestigious award. He was born in Norwich, played fastball in Woodstock and got his first job in journalism at the Woodstock Sentinel Review.
"I just kind of lucked into the job at the Sentinel Review, but prior to that I played fastball with the Woodstock Navy Jets Juniors and I got to know Steve Coad who was the Sports Editor at the Sentinel. I think it was in 1970, he decided to go back to school and he suggested that I might be suitable for the job, I had no journalism training. I had just completed my studies at Western and didn't have a job yet, had been working in construction throughout the summer in Woodstock and I just walked in the door and they hired me on the spot. From there, I learned my craft by on the job training and I worked at the Sentinel for about a year and half and then I went to Kingston."
Fidlin started at the Sentinel in 1971, and unbeknownst to the editor that hired him, he couldn't type. His mother tried to teach him the weekend before he started but it was of little use and Fidlin settled on the two-finger approach that he would employ for the next 45 years.
Fidlin still has a lot of friends and family in Norwich and Oxford County and says this is where he first started to love baseball.
"I never really played baseball as a kid, fastball was the game in Oxford County back then, it's very similar and the same camaraderie that you get in any game. We had some wonderful times back then. We had some wonderful leagues and teams back then."
After his initial tenure at the Woodstock paper, Fidlin enjoyed sports writing tenures with the Kingston Whig-Standard, Ottawa Journal and Ottawa Today before being hired by the Toronto Sun in 1980.
Over the years, he covered the Blue Jays during their rise in the 80's, all the way through the World Series years in the 90's. He retired from the Sun in 2016 and was able to cover the most recent run of Blue Jays success.
Fidlin was on hand to cover the Joe Carter walk off, the Jose Bautista bat flip, the Edwin walk off, however he has a different home run in mind for the most iconic in Blue Jays history.
"The Robbie Alomar home run probably, even including the Carter home run, the Robbie home run in Oakland that day was probably the most important home run ever hit by a Blue Jay, because it opened the door for them to continue in the series, they gained momentum from there and then they just rode that momentum through 1993. I think if you look back, history will shine on Robbie's home run, more than anyone."
Fidlin says his favourite memory from covering the Jays happened on Fathers Day in 2010 when John McDonald was playing two days after his father passed.
"John McDonald who had been away from the team for two weeks to be with his dying father. He had just buried his Father on the Friday and before Fathers Day and then came back to join the team that Sunday. He didn't start the game, he came in as defensive replacement in the top of the ninth. I should go back a bit and say, one of the conversations he had with his dad, in the weeks leading up to his death, is his dad was giving him the gears about not hitting many home runs and his dad said hit your next one for me and of course he did on that afternoon. It was extraordinary, the whole place was in tears and I think that was the defining moment in sports for me."
Fidlin says it is a huge honour for him to win the Jack Graney award.
"When I read the list of previous Jack Graney honourees – legends like Milt Dunnell, Ernie Harwell, Tom Cheek and my friend and career-long colleague Bob Elliott, it is with some level of disbelief to imagine my name next to theirs, It is truly a humbling honour and one I will treasure the rest of my life. I want to thank the selection committee and the Hall of Fame’s board for extending me this extraordinary privilege."
Previous Winners of the Jack Graney Award:
1987 – Neil MacCarl – Toronto Star
1988 – Milt Dunnell – Toronto Star
1990 – Austin "Dink" Carroll – Montreal Gazette
1991 – Joe Crysdale & Hal Kelly – CKEY
1996 – Dave Van Horne – Montreal Expos
2001 – Tom Cheek – Sportsnet 590 The Fan
2002 – Ernie Harwell – Detroit Tigers
2003 – Allan Simpson – Baseball America
2004 – Jacques Doucet – Montreal Expos
2005 – Len Bramson – TBS Sports
2009 – Ian MacDonald – Montreal Gazette
2010 – Bob Elliott – Sun Media & canadianbaseballnetwork.com
2011 – W. P. Kinsella – "Shoeless Joe" novel adapted to film "Field of Dreams"
2012 – Jerry Howarth – Sportsnet 590 The Fan
2013 – Rodger Brulotte – Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 – Richard Griffin – Toronto Star
2015 – Serge Touchette – Le Journal de Montreal
2016 – Larry Millson – Globe and Mail
2017 – Alison Gordon – Toronto Star
2018 – Jeff Blair – Sportsnet
2019 – Ken Fidlin – Toronto Sun
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