Renowned columnist Elliott continues to leave legacy on Canadian baseball

Hall of Fame baseball writer has shaped the way the game is covered today

Bob Elliott, centre, receiving his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame plaque in 2015 from Fergie Jenkins (left) and the Hall of Fame board chair at the time John Starzynski. (Photo courtesy Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame) 

For the past 15 years, Bob Elliott has released his top 100 most influential Canadians in baseball list.

But each year there is always one name missing.

Of course, the man that puts together the list together isn’t going to include himself, but Elliott, a member of five different Halls of Fame and the recipient of countless awards, would be more than deserving of a spot. 

Growing up in Kingston, Ont., Elliott got his start in baseball by recording boxscores for the senior league in his hometown and sending them to local TV and radio stations, as well as the Kingston Whig-Standard — the newspaper where he eventually would become a sports reporter. 

Twelve years later, Elliott got his first major league job as a beat writer covering the Montreal Expos for the Ottawa Citizen. 

“Back then, it was just a big deal to be there,” Elliott said about establishing himself in the industry. “I had a really good boss, Eddie MacCabe, who was very instrumental in me just feeling at ease [in the job].”

After covering the Expos from 1978-1986, he made a move to the Toronto Sun, joining the Toronto Blue Jays beat, where he would stay until his “retirement” in 2016. 

Despite retiring from the MLB beat, Elliott is still the Editor in Chief of Canadian Baseball Network, a website he founded in 1999.

Bob Elliott in St. Mary’s, Ont., at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2015. (Photo Courtesy Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame)

That website has become the authority for everything baseball north of the border. 

Editor & Writer for Canadian Baseball Network, Kevin Glew, said that he “read [Elliott’s] stuff for years before actually meeting him” and thinks that Elliott’s nose for a story is one of the things that separates him from other writers. 

“He has such an extensive network. He knows everybody in Canadian baseball,” Glew said. “He really is the leader in [the coverage of the game in Canada] and I think he’ll always be the leader, a role model and an inspiration.”

Elliott and Canadian Baseball Network have not only given up-and-coming on-field talent a place to shine but have given the next wave of baseball writers a place to get their feet wet and learn from the best. 

“Somebody asked me what I was most impressed about [from my career], whether it’s this award or that award,” Elliott said. “But the thing I’ll be happiest about when I hit the end of the road is how many more people are writing about Canadian baseball now.”

One of those writers that Elliott gave a home to early in their career was Alexis Brudnicki. 

After starting with Canadian Baseball Network in 2011 following an internship with Baseball America, Brudnicki has gone on to work for MLB, the Blue Jays, the Great Lake Canadians, the Canadian Premier Baseball League and Baseball Canada just to name a few of her stops. 

To bring everything full circle, Brudnicki became just the second-ever recipient of Baseball Canada’s Bob Elliott Media Recognition Award in 2021.

“I can’t even really articulate how much [Elliott] has meant to me. He’s really become like a father figure to me,” Brudnicki said. “He really made me feel like I belonged. It’s really hard in the industry being a woman and being Canadian — there’s not a lot of respect you’re given.

“Bob did that. He created an environment where I was comfortable and where I felt like I belonged and was respected. It made the biggest difference in my career.”

With so many awards to his name already, having one named after him that is awarded to “individuals who have made a positive impact to Baseball Canada and its member provinces at a national, provincial or local level,” epitomizes the influence Elliott has on the game and country.

“I don’t think anything has ever meant more to me,” Brudnicki said of the honour. 

In 2012, Elliott became the first Canadian to win the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which has since been renamed the BBWAA Career Excellence Award. The honour is the highest award given by the Baseball Writers Association of America and is presented at the National Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“It kinds of gives you chills,” Elliott said when thinking back on where his career has led him. “When Eddie MacCabe sent me into Montreal and I walked into the place scared witless, I wasn’t thinking ‘someday I’ll be on the stage in Cooperstown.’”

While the Spink Award may be the headliner, some of the other awards Elliott has been recognized with include: a career achievement award by Sports Media Canada, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award, the Ontario Baseball Association President’s Award and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame’s Brian Williams Award.

“I think it’s good for baseball in Canada,” Elliott said when asked about what his impact on Canadian baseball means to him. “I think my father — who died in 1970 — would be looking down and he’d be proud. Which makes me feel good.”

Elliott’s passion for telling the stories of Canadian baseball and those who make it great has sparked a career that has spanned over four decades. 

“I think [Elliott] has worked his entire life to try and recognize all the people that deserve recognition,” Brudnicki said. “Unfortunately, if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know that they would get it otherwise.”

The work and the awards speak for themselves, but Elliott’s greatest legacy may be the impression he leaves behind with every interaction. 

As Glew said of Elliott: “He’s a Hall of Fame writer, but he’s an even better person.”

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Posted: Nov 5 2022 2:05 pm
Filed under: Baseball Sports