Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No foolin' with Poulin's No. 6

Fish to retire legendary shortstop's number

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It is a rare lifetime .264 hitter who gets the honour of having his number retired.

But then Max Poulin always was the consumate feel-good underdog story.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes are expected to announce this morning that they will hold a 'Max Poulin Night' during the 2011 baseball season at which they will retire the number '6' that Poulin wore for eight seasons with the Goldeyes.

The Goldeyes will have retired three numbers once they hang Poulin's uniform. The other two retirees belonged to longtime Fish second baseman Brian Duva (5) and relief pitcher Donnie Smith (21).

Poulin played a record 676 games with the Goldeyes from 2001-2008 and holds team records for hits, walks, triples and at-bats. But more than his offence, Poulin was known for his stellar defence at shortstop.

He holds a career .975 fielding percentage and had one of his best years in his last season -- committing just seven errors in 407 chances with the Fish in 2008.

One of Poulin's biggest fans was former Goldeyes manager Hal Lanier, who saw in Poulin a bit of a chip off the old block. Lanier, a former major league player, also managed to fashion a career by making up for limited offensive abilities -- Lanier hit .228 lifetime -- with solid defence and a work ethic that was second to none.

Forever covered head to toe in the infield dirt and known for his hard-scrabble play, Poulin was a fan-favourite throughout his time in Winnipeg. While he was an institution at shortstop, Poulin was also strangely effective in a handful of relief pitching appearances. Poulin made mound appearances in five games over four different seasons for the Goldeyes, facing 16 batters and surrendering just two hits and no runs.

The Goldeyes front office drew the ire of many fans when they did not re-sign Poulin following the 2008 season. He went on to play one season in Edmonton in 2009 but did not play at all last year. He resides in Winnipeg.

Poulin's departure was soon assuaged by the signing of Wes Long as his replacement at shortstop. Long has been the premier shortstop in the Northern League in each of the past two seasons, but he has yet to play a full season for the Fish.

Long's season was shortened in 2009 by a broken leg and then last summer he was picked up by the Florida Marlins organization.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2011 B10

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