BLUE JAYS and HALL MOURN PASSING OF JIM FANNING

By on April 26, 2015

 

 

The Toronto Blue Jays learned today of the passing of longtime and well respected career baseball man Jim Fanning.

 

Toronto Blue Jays staff members Mel Didier (L) and Jim Fanning (R) observe workouts at the team's Englebert Complex in Dunedin Thursday morning October 14, 2010.  Fanning a former catcher with the Cubs in the late 50's and Expos manager in the 80's just arrived in camp on Wednesday.  Both gentlemen possess a wealth of knowledge about the game of baseball and are passing it on to the team's prospects. (EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO)

Toronto Blue Jays staff members Mel Didier (L) and Jim Fanning (R) observe workouts at the team’s Englebert Complex in Dunedin Thursday morning October 14, 2010. Fanning a former catcher with the Cubs in the late 50’s and Expos manager in the 80’s just arrived in camp on Wednesday. Both gentlemen possess a wealth of knowledge about the game of baseball and are passing it on to the team’s prospects. (EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO)

“It is with my deepest condolences to the Fanning family upon hearing of the passing of Jim today. He was a longtime friend and not enough can be said of his contributions to the game of baseball, particularly in Canada. Jim impacted many lives and he will be remembered fondly by many inside and outside the game of baseball.” Paul Beeston, President and CEO, Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Fanning, 87, touched the game in many ways. Beginning with a playing career from 1954-57 as a catcher with the Chicago Cubs, he also served as a minor league manager, executive with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and was the Major Leagues first Scouting Bureau Director in 1968. As a 25 year Expo and their first General Manager, he was a key component in building “the team of the eighties”. Jim served as manager of the Expos from 1981-84, leading the team to the postseason in 1981 a first for Canadian baseball fans. Most recently Fanning held the title of Ambassador of Amateur Baseball in Canada until his passing.

from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Serving as a player, manager, executive and community ambassador, Jim Fanning has spent over 65 years in professional baseball. The Chicago Cubs signed him as a catcher in 1949 and he played 64 games over four seasons, before pursuing a managing career. After managerial stops in Tulsa, Dallas, Eau Claire and Greenville, fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, John McHale, hired him as a special assignment scout for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. The following year Fanning was promoted to assistant general manager, a post he would hold until 1967.

 By this time, Fanning’s scouting skills had impressed many, including those in Major League Baseball’s head office, and in 1968, he was hired to be the first scouting director of Major League Baseball’s Scouting Bureau. But Fanning’s tenure at that position would be a short one. In August 1968, he was named the first general manager of the Montreal Expos.

Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

 In his 25-year tenure with the Expos, Fanning helped build the franchise from scratch and served in several different capacities, including vice-president, scout and even two stints as the field manager (1981-82, 1984). When Fanning took over as the field boss in 1981, he had drafted or helped develop the skills of 21 players on the roster. The respected baseball man would guide the Expos to their first and only playoff berth in 1981, leading the team to within one win of advancing to the World Series. In his quarter century with the Expos, he established himself as one of baseball’s best talent evaluators, counting Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga and Randy Johnson among the players he helped sign. After leaving the Expos in 1993, he was hired as a special assignment scout with the Colorado Rockies. He’s currently employed as an ambassador of amateur baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. Jim was Inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys in 2000.

 “Jim Fanning was a baseball pioneer in this country. Without his tireless efforts, there may not be Major League Baseball in Canada. He was a tremendous talent evaluator, an astute general manager and a smart field manager who led the Montreal Expos to their only playoff appearance in 1981. We were proud to induct him into our museum in 2000. But most importantly, Jim was a passionate teacher, a loving husband and father, and a wonderfully generous man. He was baseball royalty in Canada who visited our museum regularly. I speak for myself and the staff at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame when I say that we loved him. We will miss him deeply, but we will never forget him.”  Scott Crawford, director of operations, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

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