olympicbaseball February 8th, 2008
According to Winnipeg Sun: Umps get the call, two Canadian Umpires are selected on the Olympic Baseball in Beijing.
Baseball Manitoba announced that Ron Shewchuk, a Minnedosa native, along with Winnipeg’s Brian Hodgson, have been selected to work the baseball tournament at the Summer Games in Beijing this August. The duo will be the only Canadians on the international, 16-member crew.
Manitoba has sent an umpire to the Olympics only once before. Winnipeg native Glen Johnson, now a CFL referee living in Toronto, did the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
“The fact that there’s two from Manitoba going is unbelievable from that standpoint,” Hodgson said.
“It’s never been done before, and it looks very well for Manitoba baseball.”
Shewchuk, 48, and Hodgson, 53, have plenty of international experience, including stints at Olympic qualifiers, junior and senior world tournaments, and the Pan Am Games, but this assignment takes the cake.
“AS HIGH AS IT GETS”
“Absolutely,” Hodgson said. “You ask any athlete in any sport. The Olympics is as high as it gets. You’re only going to do it once, and this is wonderful.”
“This is it,” added Shewchuk. “Quite honestly, after this there’s really nowhere to go.”
Shewchuk and Hodgson may, in fact, be the only Canucks taking part in the Olympic baseball tournament. Canada has yet to earn a berth in the event, but their next chance is an Olympic qualifier next month in Taiwan.
This will be Canada’s last chance for a while, as baseball has been removed from the 2012 Games. It is expected to return in 2016.
Should Canada fail to qualify, Shewchuk and Hodgson will avoid much of the political wheeling and dealing that takes place behind the scenes. They wouldn’t be completely free of it, however.
Shewchuk, for example, was the target of accusations at an Olympic qualifier in 2006, when he was at second base for the gold-medal game between the U.S. and the host Cubans.
“The Cubans were accusing me of giving signs to the American hitters. It’s weird,” Shewchuk said. “The catcher goes, ‘Hey, he’s giving signals!’ I’m standing there going, ‘What the hell?’ It’s funny. They’re passionate.”
Winnipeg’s Alex Gardiner, who sits on the Canadian Olympic Committee, warned Shewchuk and Hodgson to expect almost every emotion from the Chinese spectators, from apathy to ridicule to anger.
“It’ll be OK,” Hodgson said. “Whether you’re doing it in China or you’re doing it next door, what you get from the fans is going to be about the same.
“Politically it’s a little different, and culturally it’s going to be hugely different, but we’ve done international baseball.”
I guess they are both willing to see Canada to be the final eight teams of Olympic Baseball 2008 no matter those politics or fans interference, and of course, they will not be in the game when Canada plays in case anyone has any reason to say anything.