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Monday, January 24, 2011

PG’s Simpson enters CBHOF

Jeff Dahn        

Allan Simpson, the founder of the highly respected magazine Baseball America and a valuable contributor to Perfect Game USA since 2006, on Monday was named an inductee into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

When Simpson left his position as Editor in Chief of Baseball America in 2006, he continued what is now officially a “hall of fame career” working for Perfect Game.

The responsibilities handed to Simpson at PG were a natural extension of what he had done successfully since founding Baseball America in 1980. Perfect Game had been working with Simpson at Baseball America previously, and in 2006 hired him as the national coordinator of its online scouting report service,

PGCrosschecker is now the nation’s No. 1 source of amateur baseball scouting information.

Perfect Game founder and president Jerry Ford praised Simpson’s contributions.

“Allan’s expertise and knowledge of the First Year Player Draft is legendary,” Ford said. “More important than that, Allan has an unbelievable passion for the game and is really a great guy. Our relationship with Allan has been extremely beneficial and he is highly deserving of this recognition.

“It’s nice to see someone so deserving receive such a high honor.”

Simpson is being installed in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as the founder of Baseball America (originally All-America Baseball News), which he started while still a resident of British Columbia. Many prominent baseball people – from both Canada and the States – wrote letters to the CBHOF supporting Simpson’s induction.

“The Allan Simpson story of publishing his magazine in his garage in British Columbia, and then driving across the border to mail the issues – it wouldn’t have looked good for Baseball America to have Canadian postage stamps on it – is an only-in-America story … except it started in Canada,” wrote Bob Elliott, a baseball columnist for the Toronto Sun.

“Allan is a pioneer when it comes to covering the baseball industry in a different manner, just as (Hall of Fame writers) Peter Gammons and Tracy Ringolsby were.”

Another letter came from Dave Dombrowski, the general manager of the Detroit Tigers. Dombrowski wrote, in part:

“Allan’s foresight, imagination and risk-taking have led to all baseball fans having an opportunity to follow the sport like none of us believed possible. He was truly a visionary in his field.”

Simpson grew up in Kelowna, British Columbia, where the nearest Major League team at the time of his youth was nearly 1,000 miles away in San Francisco. He first became a hockey fan before falling in love with baseball when he went on a family trip to California as a 10-year-old.

“I saw my first game on TV, and everything that could have possibly happened, happened on that trip,” Simpson said in a 2010 video interview with canadianexpatnetwork. “I came back from that trip with just an insatiable appetite for baseball. … I became a great minor league fan; a great fan of college baseball.”

In entering the CBHOF, Simpson joins a prestigious cast of characters.

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum was founded in October, 1983, in Toronto but today is located in a century-old building in St. Mary’s, Ontario. It enshrines 90 members, including many former  Major League stars, coaches, managers and key contributors like Simpson, each of whom has deep Canadian roots, played or worked for either the Toronto Blue Jays or the Montreal Expos or helped establish the game in Canada.

Some of its most notable members – many of whom are also in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. – include Roberto Alomar, Sparky Anderson, Gary Carter, Jack Kent Cooke, Andre Dawson, Tony Fernandez, Cito Gaston, Pat Gillick, Calvin Griffith, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy Lasorda, Jackie Robinson, Dave Stieb and Larry Walker.

Former Toronto Blue Jays closer Tom Henke and George “Dandy” Wood, a late 20th century ballplayer who became the eighth Canadian to play in the Major Leagues, join Simpson as 2011 CBHOF inductees.

“This is truly a great personal honor, certainly the greatest I have ever received,” Simpson said in an official CBHOF news release. “In so many ways it validates and puts into perspective everything I have done in the baseball world. It is all the more meaningful as it is all about Canada, and I have never forgotten my Canadian roots.”

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