The Guelph Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2017 has a definite baseball feel about it.
Four individuals and a team were inducted into the hall Wednesday night during the 31st annual Kiwanis Sports Celebrity Dinner at the Italian Canadian Club.
This year’s inductees are baseball player Jeremy Ware in the athlete category, angler John Vandivier in the veteran athlete category, former Guelph Storm governor and current Guelph Royals president Jim Rooney in the builder category, hockey referee Harry Greene in the officials category and 1966 Inter-County Senior Baseball League champion Guelph CJOYs in the team category.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be mentioned with some of the previous inductees,” Ware said. “It’s definitely a proud moment for myself and my family. I’m humbled and honoured. It’s a great feeling.”
Ware was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 1994 Major League Baseball draft and got as high as Triple-A ball with the Ottawa Lynx and Edmonton Trappers in the Expos organization and Buffalo Bisons in the Cleveland Indians organization. In all he played in 232 games in Triple-A, hitting four homers and driving in 36 runs. He also played for Canada at the 2004 Olympics and finished his baseball career with the Guelph Royals in the Intercounty Baseball League.
“I just love to play because I love the game,” Ware said. “I just love sports and this is just a lovely perk after the fact. It’s a great perk to be recognized where you grew up.”
Rooney has been involved with two of the sports franchises in Guelph, the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm and the Intercounty Baseball League’s Guelph Royals.
“It’s very humbling. I feel blessed and it was an absolute surprise,” Rooney said. “I’m grateful and honoured.”
Rooney, a St. Michael’s College School graduate, was part of the group that brought the Dukes of Hamilton, the former Toronto Marlies OHL franchise, to Guelph to become the Storm in 1991 and remained with the franchise for 15 years, serving as the team’s governor during that time. He became a part owner of the Royals in 2010.
“I’m a St. Mike’s guy and my mentor was Father Dave Bauer,” Rooney said. “You had it stamped in your head and in your heart that kind of life and the element of sport and the opportunity to represent your community is so critical. It’s always about giving back and those lessons I was fortunate to receive early in life.”
The CJOYs won the Inter-County senior title in 1966 and also won the Ontario senior championship that year. The team had another standout season in 1967 and its two-year record of 43 wins and 13 losses remains one of the best two-year stints by a single team in league history.
“It’s unbelievable,” CJOYs player Walt Jeffries said of the team’s induction. He is one of several members of the team who were already in the Hall as an individual athlete.
“All the guys, to see them here tonight, I haven’t seen them for years. It’s one of the thrills of my life to come back after all this time and see them here.”
Vandivier was considered an innovator, developing centre pin reels and introducing them to steelhead fishing in Ontario. His numerous victories included wins in the Southwestern Ontario Bass Classic, Sandusky Spring Open on Lake Erie and Fall Bass Challenge on Lake Couchiching.
An active hockey referee for 30 seasons, Greene became a life member of the Guelph Hockey Referees Association in 1977. He refereed in several leagues including the Western Hockey League, Western Ontario Hockey Association and Canadian university hockey. He also served as the president of the Guelph Minor Hockey Association from 1956 to 1959.
With the inclusion of this year’s class, the Hall’s membership grows to 129 members.