Ontario Sports Hall of Fame
Leo Rautins was born on March 20th, 1960, and spent his formative years in Toronto, Ontario. His basketball career began at St. Michael’s College School, where his talent developed enough to become, at 16 years old, the youngest player ever to earn a spot with the Canadian National Team. He later attended the University of Minnesota, earning recognition as a member of the Big-Ten Conference Rookie First-team. After transferring to Syracuse University, Rautins became the first Big East player ever to record a triple-double — which he did twice in a month. Leo was also the first Canadian basketball player to be drafted in the first-round of the NBA Entry Draft, chosen by the Philadelphia ‘76ers in 1983. While his NBA career was brief, Rautins played professionally until 1993.
Rautins started preparations for a post-playing career in 1984, broadcasting Olympic coverage with CBC. He served as head coach of the Canadian National basketball team from 2005 to 2011. He is now a key member of the Toronto Raptors broadcasting team. His playing legacy left a path of hope for Canadians with NBA dreams.
Eric Lindros was born on February 28th, 1973, and grew up in London, Ontario. Well known in the hockey world, Eric will always be remembered for his immense talent and ridiculous athleticism.
His hockey career began with the St. Michael’s Junior B team. In his first season and at the age of 15, he scored 67 points in 37 games. His large frame gave him a physical edge over players who were up to six years older.
Lindros was drafted by the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL but later traded to Oshawa. With the Generals, he averaged more than 2 points per playoff game. In 1990, Lindros collected 149 points with Oshawa and a Junior World Championship Gold, leading Canada with 11 points in 7 games. He was awarded the CHL Player-of-the-Year award.
Deemed "the Next One" in his early years, Lindros lived up to the hype. His ’94-’95 season was rewarded with the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Trophy for his excellence on ice. In ’95-’96, he scored 115 points. In a 13 year NHL career, Lindros totaled 865 points in 760 NHL games. Accumulated injuries and health concerns ended Lindros's playing days in 2007.
NHL fans will remember his legacy of strength, speed, and leadership in the NHL.
Tony Fernandez was born on June 30th, 1962, and grew up in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Fernandez in 1979. During his professional career, Tony played for several teams in Major League Baseball and in Japan. His tenures in Toronto (1983-‘90, 1993, 1998-‘99, and 2001) were arguably his best years in the league. His franchise records still hold to this day. Along with his elite defensive skills at shortstop, Tony was also a premier switch-hitter with a career .288 batting average, was an immense threat on the bases with 246 career steals, and arguably the most adaptable shortstop in the franchise’s history (.992 fielding % in for the years 1981 through 1989). His defensive prowess was put on display in the late ‘80s especially when he won 4 Golden Glove awards in a row from 1986-‘89. He won a World Series Ring with the Blue Jays in 1993, and his career came full-circle in 2001 where he ended it with the Blue Jays.
You can now find Tony Fernandez's name on the Level of Excellence in left field at the Rogers Centre, and deservedly so.
Ron Ellis was born on January 8th, 1945, and grew up in Lindsay, Ontario. He began his hockey career while playing with the Toronto Marlboros. In 1964, Ellis won the Memorial Cup alongside other icons such as Mike Walton, Nick Harbaruk, and Pete Stemkowski, among others. Ellis began his 15-year career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964-65, winning the Stanley Cup in 1967. He also is part of elite company as one of only 104 players to play their whole NHL career with one team. Ron also played a part in the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series, an epic moment in Canadian history. An icon for the Toronto Maple Leafs and for Canadian Hockey, Ron is recognized for his consistency on the ice, his unparalleled loyalty, and his generosity off the ice.
Sarah Burke, born on September 3rd, 1982, grew up in Midland, Ontario. She was a true pioneer in freestyle skiing. In 2004, she lobbied ESPN to add a women’s division for freestyle skiing in the following Winter X Games. Her perseverance and passion led to ESPN adding a women’s division in the following year. She went on to win her first gold-medal at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Kuusamo, Finland. She went on to dominate the super pipe competition by winning gold medals at the 2007, ’08, ’09, ’11 (Aspen), and ’11 (Tignes). Off the slopes, her achievements led to accolades, including ESPN’s Award for Female Skier of the Year in 2001 and the ESPY Award for Best Female Actions Sports Athlete in 2007.
On January 19th, 2012, Sarah Burke passed away following a training incident in Park City, Utah. Sarah will always be remembered for the legacy she left behind for women in the world of freestyle skiing.
Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton (January 12, 1930 – February 21, 1974) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player, a defenceman for 24 seasons in the National Hockey League. He played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres. Also a successful businessman, Horton was a co-founder of the Tim Hortons coffeeshop chain. Between February 11, 1961, and February 4, 1968, Horton appeared in 486 consecutive regular-season games; this remains the Leafs club record for consecutive games and was the NHL record for consecutive games by a defencemen until broken on February 8, 2007. This is remarkable because on March 12, 1955, he suffered both a broken leg and jaw after being checked by Bill Gadsby of the Rangers. The injuries were so severe he missed much of the following season, causing some doubt Horton would ever again play professional hockey. Horton had a reputation for enveloping players fighting him, in a crushing bear hug.
While playing, Horton was generally acknowledged as the strongest man in the game; injuries and age were little more than minor inconveniences. Chicago Blackhawks winger Bobby Hull declared, "There were defencemen you had to fear because they were vicious and would slam you into the boards from behind, for one, Eddie Shore. But you respected Tim Horton because he didn't need that type of intimidation. He used his tremendous strength and talent to keep you in check."
Born in 1960, Joe started his professional baseball career in 1983 with the Cubs, moving to the Indians then the Padres before joining the Blue Jays in 1991. He was an integral part of the 1992 and 1993 Jays championship teams, but he is best known for his 1993 World Series walk off home run that gave the Jays their second straight world series championship.
It was Game 6. The Blue Jays led the series three games to two. With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Jays trailing 6–5, Carter came to bat. Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor stood on base. On a 2–2 count, Carter hit a three-run walk-off home run off Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams (against whom he was 0–4 career) to win the World Series. Only once before had a Series ended with a home run. (In 1960, Bill Mazeroski did it for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the New York Yankees.) Carter's was the only home run hit by a player whose team was trailing in the bottom of the 9th inning in a potential championship clinching game. Upon hitting the home run, Carter went into a hysteria, jumping up and down many times, most notably while rounding first base, where his helmet came off.
Carter is also the only player ever to both record the final out in one World Series, and get a series-clinching walk-off hit in another.
On the night of September 5, 1914, the Providence Greys visited Hanlan's Point Stadium to play the Toronto Maple Leafs' minor league baseball team. The Greys' starting 19-year-old starting pitcher threw a one-hitter. He also knocked a three-run homer over the right field fence. Nobody knew that young George Herman "Babe" Ruth would go on to hit a record 714 major league home runs.
And it all started on a September night on Toronto's Centre Island, where Babe hit his first professional 4-bagger.
William Francis "Zeke" O'Connor, Jr. (born May 2, 1926) is a retired American football end who played five seasons in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and Canadian Football League (CFL) in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
A late-game touchdown catch by O'Connor helped the Argonauts win the Grey Cup in 1952.
After his playing career, and served as the color commentator for Grey Cup broadcasts from 1956 to 1981. He became friends with the famed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and helped establish a foundation in his name to benefit Sherpas in Nepal.
O'Connor started the foundation and was its president for more than 30 years, helping build schools and hospitals in Nepal. He also introduced Nepal to the Special Olympics, an athletic competition for disabled adults. His daughter Karen took over the foundation in 2008. O'Connor published a memoir in 2012 called Journey with the Sherpas: The Story of Zeke O’Connor and the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation.
He lives in Toronto and still visits the Sherpas annually. He has three children.
Famed singer and actor Michael Burgess was the first individual to sing "O Canada" at the World Series, celebrating the Toronto Blue Jays' 1992 debut.
The Ontario Sports Hall of Fame would like to take a moment to reflect on the loss of Michael Burgess the famed tenor and winner of the OSHOF Sandy Hawley Award last year. This award is presented to an individual who contributes to the sporting world and beyond. Michael certainly has done this through his stirring rendition of O Canada. An important but nonetheless important fact especially this year as our Blue Jays soar to new heights it should be remembered that Michael was the first individual to sing O Canada at a World Series game: in Atlanta in 1992.
Michael was a true caring and supporter of the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. He will be remembered by us for his pure, moving and flawless rendition of "The Impossible Dream" at the unveiling of our temporary home near Maple Leaf Square.
As Michael said many years ago "The next most exciting thing in life is just around the corner and the most important thing is to be open to it."
Michael we will miss you and your support a new journey awaits you.
The OSHOF Board of Directors