His past exploits on the hill are more than enough to justify his induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. However, Quebec native Denis Boucher, who will be honored next June, continues to serve his sport with passion at 54 years old.
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“I’ll try not to cry,” said the man, who notably wore the colors of the Montreal Expos in 1993 and 1994, thinking about his future speech.
Boucher, who has been pitching coach for the Canadian team for twenty years, will then think of his wife Isabelle Fournier and their four children Jade, Corentin, Loïc-Antoine and Terrence. The man from Lachine, who also lived in Sainte-Foy for a long time in his youth, will also remember these moments spent on the field with his grandfather Alfred and especially with his father Jacques, who were also “good ball players” were.
“It’s nice to be recognised, it’s the greatest honor I receive in my sport,” said Boucher, who had been hoping for such recognition for a number of years. It’s great to be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I’m proud to see my name among the best players in the country and to join legends like Ferguson Jenkins who was my coach [en 1987]and Larry Walker, who was my teammate at the Expos [en 1993 et 1994].”
The ceremony will take place on June 17 in St. Mary’s, Ontario. Boucher will then have the opportunity to share the day with Quebec descriptor Jacques Doucet, as well as his former Toronto Blue Jays teammate John Olerud, who if they were both part of the 2020 vintage would have to wait three years due to the pandemic. The other notables added this year are former players Rich Harden and Jesse Barfield, and Manitoba builder Joe Wiwchar.
A rich career
About Boucher, his first game in an Expos jersey on September 6, 1993 at the Olympic Stadium in front of more than 40,000 fans, is a remarkable part of Quebec sports history.
“I remember the standing ovation before my first pitch and when I left the game it was just amazing,” he said of the very special day. When you’re young and you think you’re Andre Dawson, then one day you’re playing for your childhood club, that’s the best feeling in the world.
In six working innings, the left-handed pitcher had conceded just one run to the Colorado Rockies, the result of a solo home run by Andres Galarraga.
“I used to knock him out on one shift, but he had me on another shift,” Boucher recalled.
It was Monday afternoon, Labor Day. Led by Felipe Alou, the Expos then won 4-3, then Boucher continued with a dreamy end of the season. In five starts, four of them at the Olympic Stadium, he had gone 3-1 and had a brilliant earned run average of 1.91.
First with the Blue Jays
If Quebec fans appreciate Boucher’s time at the Expos, it should be remembered that it was the Blue Jays that allowed the young man from Lachine to make his Major League Baseball debut on April 12, 1991 in Toronto. Had preceded a great development in this organization, from Myrtle Beach to Dunedin to Syracuse.
“One of the best days of my life,” Boucher said of the first major league baseball game.
Boucher, who also played for the Cleveland Indians before joining Montreal, appeared in a total of 35 major league games and scored 26 starts. Also worth mentioning are the two championships the Quebec native won at AAA level in 1992 with the Sky Sox from Colorado Springs and in 1995 with the Ottawa Lynx, Expos’ school club.
coaches and recruiters
With the Canadian team, the Quebecer took part in the Pan American Games in 1987, then as a pitching coach at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008. Boucher is always involved and will be in Arizona next March. at his fifth World Baseball Classic. The baseball enthusiast is also pursuing a recruiting career with the New York Yankees.
Before being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Boucher was elected to the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and to the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.