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Hall of Famers credit family, coaches

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The Keystone Canucks: Back row — Andy Viallet, Brian Gadsby, Garry Pfeifer, Irwin Warkentin, Rick Kucbel, Don Chapman, Fran Giesbrecht; front row — Pat Carson, Lloyd Penner, Gerald Reimer, Ernie Warkentin, Ken Rigaux, Garth Whitlock.

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The Keystone Canucks: Back row — Andy Viallet, Brian Gadsby, Garry Pfeifer, Irwin Warkentin, Rick Kucbel, Don Chapman, Fran Giesbrecht; front row — Pat Carson, Lloyd Penner, Gerald Reimer, Ernie Warkentin, Ken Rigaux, Garth Whitlock. Photo Store

The athlete inductees gave a clear message to the audience of more than 600 at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner on Nov. 2.

Former Jets captain Dale Hawerchuk, Olympic swimmer Shannon Shakespeare, the versatile Faye Finch and  ex-Elmwood Giant and Minnesota Twin Corey Koskie all stressed that their success depended very much on the support they received during their developmental years from parents and family members, coaches and volunteers. Basketball builder Bill Wedlake credited Team Wedlake of his wife, children and brother Ross.

The first table tennis inductee, Art Werier, entered the Hall in the all-round category for his prowess as a player followed by a lengthy administrative career with the sport provincially, nationally and internationally. That role took him to away from Winnipeg for as many as 100 days a year and he said he couldn’t have done it without his co-workers and friends.

Jocelyn Bjorklund accepted for her grandfather, curling builder Sen. John T. Haig, who was inducted posthumously. Al Dyker, a hard-hitting defenceman in his hockey days, spoke for the 1936, 1942 and 1949 Canadian champion Ken Watson curling teams. Dyker’s father Lyle played second on the 1949 team. Bob Leslie from Switzerland and Joey Mutcheson from Washington state were among the 26 members of the 1983-88 Carman Goldeyes baseball teams who were honoured.

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A slo-pitch team called the Keystone Canucks came back from the World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, with silver medals. Playing in the 60+ AA division, the Manitobans hit .622 and averaged more than 20 runs a game during the seven-game tournament but lost the final to a team from Salt Lake City. Brian Gadsby recruited the Canucks from the local senior slo-pitch league.

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Shortstop Ab Hansford, who led Norwood to midget, juvenile and junior baseball championships and was the junior league MVP in 1956, and Kris (Homer) Holmstrom, who was a feared left-handed hitter for 20 years, are the city players who will enter the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. The builder group includes Tom Thompson, who coached at Isaac Brock and with the junior South End Chiefs and Elmwood Giants, Winnipeg Goldeyes founder Sam Katz and Gordon Riddell, who focused on youth player and facility development in St. James.

Country hardballers Brian Coates, Bob Kutzan and Dennis Wiebe also will be inducted as players and Wilbert Funk from Altona will be recognized for 40-plus years of umpiring. The 1989-1994 senior Elmwood Giants will be inducted as a major team and the 1984-89 Clearwater teams will enter in the small community division. The 1967 Western Canada juvenile champion Souris Cardinals and CPAC, the team from Winnipeg’s North End that won the 1965 Western Canada Little Canadian championship, will receive special recognition.

The class of 2014 was announced at a media conference in Winnipeg on Nov. 5. The 18th induction banquet will be held in Morden on June 7.   

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