Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

From walk-on wannabe to a pivotal character in Goldeyes history...

Shortstop turned open tryout into a career, vows to give others a shot

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Max Poulin bid adieu to his career as a player on Tuesday as the Winnipeg Goldeyes made official the announcement that the baseball club will retire the stellar shortstop's No. 6 this spring.

The native of St. Eustache, Que., who played with his heart on his sleeve for eight seasons (2001-2008) with the Goldeyes, wore it that way again at the press conference at the team's home now known as Shaw Park.

Poulin fought back tears as he spoke emotionally of his baseball career and time with the Goldeyes.

"The Goldeyes have been really good to me for eight years and I have to say thank you to a lot of people," said Poulin, who played in a team record 676 games and holds four team records.

"When you start playing ball you don't think about getting your jersey retired. You dream about playing professionally, being able to be on the field where there's a lot of fans. Now today, retiring my jersey, it's a great honour."

The Goldeyes will officially retire Poulin's No. 6 on June 14 prior to that night's American Association game against Sioux Falls Pheasants.

Poulin won his way into the hearts of fans with his gritty play, acrobatic catches, humble character and everyday joy in playing the game.

"For me, you retire somebody's jersey when they win the championship and that's something I did not accomplish so for the longest time I was (thinking) I don't deserve my jersey retired," he said. "I do these baseball camps in the city for kids Grades 1 to 6 and this little kid, Nicholas, he's nine years old. He looked at me and he said, 'Max, one day I'll be playing with the Goldeyes and I'm going to be like you.' So it kind of made me realize, maybe I did accomplish good things here."

Poulin was selected to play in four Northern League all-star games (2002, 2003, 2005, 2008) and was twice voted by fans as Goldeyes Rogers Player of the Year.

Poulin said he still plans to go after a baseball championship.

"I would like to be a manager one day for sure, it's something I want to do,' he said, noting former teammate Pat Scalabrini won a (Can-Am League) title last year in Quebec City. "I was kind of jealous of that and I think maybe it is the next step for me to maybe try to do that. When I think about baseball, that's my next goal. I will probably try to do whatever is possible to be a manager one day."

The story of Poulin's arrival in Winnipeg in 2001 after driving from Quebec and his selection to the team as a walk-on from the team's open tryout camp that year has become the stuff of legends around the team.

Poulin joked that if he becomes a manager in professional baseball, he will hold open tryouts.

"I think it's a very important thing to have open tryouts, you never know what's out there. The reason why I'm here today is that open tryout," said Poulin, who now makes his home in Winnipeg working as a carpenter.

"When you have a dream to play baseball, you do everything you can to make it happen. I think it was just something in me. Play hard and work hard and try to be the best you can."

Poulin's best season with the Fish was his last when he posted a .983 fielding percentage with just seven errors in 407 defensive plays.

Poulin will be the third player to have his number retired by the Goldeyes organization. Poulin (No. 6) will join Brian Duva (No. 5) and Donnie Smith (No. 21).

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2011 C4

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