Feb. 7, 2018
Bill Humber a Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer
Humber is the first academic researcher to be inducted
Seneca’s reigning baseball expert will soon join the likes of Roy Halladay, Joe Carter and Carlos Delgado as a Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer.
William “Bill” Humber, Director of Eco-Seneca Initiatives, is widely known as Canada’s premier baseball historian. He’s the first academic researcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The ceremony will take place on June 16 in St. Marys, Ont., where Bill will share the stage with 2018 inductees Pedro Martinez, the Montreal Expos’ only Cy Young Award winner, and Lloyd Moseby, the first Toronto Blue Jays outfielder to win a Silver Slugger Award.
“I’m just thrilled,” Bill says. “I mean, to be beside Pedro Martinez and Lloyd Moseby - wow.”
As a child growing up in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, Bill got into baseball when he was around seven years old. He collected baseball cards. He subscribed to Sports Illustrated in 1961—he still does. Today, he’s a Toronto FC season-ticket holder who wears a Blue Jays watch.
Bill’s first baseball hero was Rocky Nelson of a minor league baseball club called the Toronto Maple Leafs that played in the old Maple Leaf Stadium at the foot of Bathurst Street.
“It’s now apartment buildings, but back in the day, that’s where my dad took me and my brother to see ball games,” Bill recalls.
In 1979, a couple of years after Bill started working at Seneca, he created a course called Baseball Spring Training. The course, which continues to this day, offers fans opportunities to discuss the upcoming season in a classroom setting and learn about baseball history, minor league reports and maybe even have a visit from the Jays.
For example, Paul Beeston, former president of the Jays and Hall of Fame inductee in 2002, is scheduled to visit Bill’s class this weekend.
As an environmental educator and historian, Bill says research and writing are second nature to him. As a result of his lifelong interest in Canadian baseball, he published his first book, Cheering for the Home Team, in 1983.
He has since written 11 more books, including Let’s Play Ball: Inside the Perfect Game (1989), The Baseball Book and Trophy (1993) and Diamonds of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada (1995).
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I owe a lot to Seneca,” Bill says. “I’ve taught the Baseball Spring Training class for 40 years. Where else can you do that?”
While he has passed the baton to a new teacher this winter, Bill still shows up to his class every week. If anything, he prefers to think of himself as a professor emeritus of baseball.
"If there's such a thing,” he says.