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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

PG's Simpson receives lifetime honor

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Allan Simpson, Perfect Game's Director of its scouting wing, PG Crosschecker, received yet another honor on Tuesday night, receiving the Willie Duke Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Raleigh (N.C.) Hot Stove League's 62nd annual banquet.

With over 400 people in attendance, the event included remarks from former Major League outfielder and current ESPN anchor Doug Glanville as well as Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner.

Simpson was inducted into the
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame last June with former big league stars George “Dandy” Wood and Tom Henke. Simpson was also the recipient of the 2003 Jack Graney Award distributed to distinct individuals for their contributions to the game of baseball in Canada by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I had the very good fortune last summer of being elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame,” Simpson said in response to his recent honors. “As a native Canadian who grew up with a passion for baseball and spent roughly the first half of my life north of the border, and has never forgotten his Canadian roots, that was about as good as it gets.

“But I am similarly indebted to the recognition that came my way last night from the Raleigh Hot Stove League as it also hit close to home. I have spent the latter half of my life in my adopted home town of Durham, N.C., pursuing a career in baseball.”

Born in Kelowna, British Columbia, Simpson founded the publication 
Baseball America in the garage of his home in 1980. That publication has made a profound impact on the game of baseball, frequently considered the most influential magazine in the sport.

Here are some of Simpson's reflections on the impetus that led to him beginning what has turned out to be a Hall of Fame venture:

Growing up in Canada, back in the 1970s, I had always wondered why baseball could be popular and compelling at the major-league level, and yet apparently so unpopular in other areas of the game like the minor leagues, the draft and college baseball that it received little or no national exposure.

It wasn’t that way with other major-league sports in the U.S., like football and basketball, which had college football and college basketball to help popularize the NFL and NBA; and even hockey, especially in Canada. Why only baseball?

I always believed there was a bigger, broader baseball world out there for fans to embrace that might help them pursue Major League Baseball even more passionately, so my primary motivation in launching Baseball America was to change the perception in the way baseball fans viewed the game.

From Day One, the focus was on the player-development side of the game, those areas that had largely been ignored by the mainstream media but were all instrumental in the development of future major leagues.

Thirty years later, the interest in Grassroots Baseball has grown exponentially. Without exception, there is greater widespread interest in Minor League Baseball, college baseball, summer college baseball, the draft, high-school baseball, baseball prospects generally—the very areas Baseball America targeted—and Major League Baseball continues to undergo its own unparalleled wave of popularity and prosperity.

How much of the increase in popularity and exposure that baseball generally has enjoyed over the last 30 years can be attributed to the existence of Baseball America is difficult to quantify, but it is safe to say that the game looks a lot different now than it did in 1981, when Baseball America was launched.

Simpson joined Perfect Game in 2006 where he continues to set the standard for news that pertains to prospects relative to the draft, creating a bridge between amateur and professional baseball.

Other award recipients include South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner who was honored with the Will Wynne Award after guiding his Gamecocks to consecutive College World Series Championships.

North Carolina Head Coach Mike Fox received the Board of Directors Special Achievement Award by leading the Tar Heels to five berths in the College World Series in the last six years.

The Mills Brothers Love the Game Award went to Wake Forest Head Coach Tom Walter. Last February Walter donated one of his kidneys to one of his own players, outfielder Kevin Jordan, when a match couldn't be found within Jordan's own family.

Former NC State catcher Pratt Maynard was named the College Player of the Year, while left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon, now a member of the Wolfpack, was named the High School Player of the Year.

Retired baseball writer Bill Woodward received the event's Media Award.

On behalf of the Perfect Game staff, and for my own personal intentions, I would like to offer the most sincere congratulations to Allan for this honor, and his ongoing dedication to the game of baseball.

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