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Keeping Tabs on a Local Boy

This article originally ran in and was written by Brier Dodge on Feb 27, 2012.

Chris Bisson earns spot in Baseball Hall of Fame at 22

Chris Bisson. Chris Bisson never expected he would be inducted into Canada’s Baseball Hall of Fame at the age of 22.

As a teenager, he never even expected to play college baseball.

But no one expected Team Canada to win a gold medal at the Pan American Games, a tournament dominated by Cuba and the United States – and this past year, it happened.

“Everyone was hot at the same time,” Bisson said. “Before that, we’d had only ever won one medal, a bronze in 2009.”

He was part of that gold medal team, and in June, the Orleans player will be one of the youngest players to be inducted as a part of Team Canada’s gold medal winning team from the Pan American Games.

“As soon as I saw that email, I started calling everyone,” he said.

As a high school player for the Nepean Canadians, Bisson was thrilled to make Team Ontario.

Team Ontario lead to Team Canada, which lead to another lucky chance.

“The (University of) Kentucky coaches were just passing by at Canada Cup,” he said. “I had one good play, and ran like hell to first.”

Bisson, then a Francophone Grade 11 student at Beatrice-Desloges Catholic high school started hitting the books for the English American university entrance tests to see where it could take him.

Soon enough, he was playing second base for the University of Kentucky, playing top southern schools in front of thousands of fans.

Baseball is serious business in the South, with attendance at division one university games sometimes surpassing 10,000.

Bisson excelled at Kentucky, named an All-American multiple times, becoming one of few Canadians to do so.

He’s always stood out as being more northern than most of his teammates, whether it was at university, where he tried to convince classmates he lived in an igloo, or with his current organization where he is only one of two Canadians.

"But all the Canadians want to see the medal at spring training,” he said.

With Ottawa gaining an AA team, there’s a chance his baseball career could even return him home. He currently plays for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the A affiliate team for the San Diego Padres, who drafted him in the fourth round.

“If I could play in Ottawa, to be a kid from Canada that plays in his hometown, that’s unheard of,” he said.

He came back home for the off-season, and worked with sports study baseball players at Gatineau’s Nicolas Gatineau high school, an ideal job.

Coming back and seeing his old coaches and hometown teams has let him tell teenage players that they can make it too.

“It’s hard – but not impossible,” he noted.

While spring training for the Padres started on Feb. 24, he plans to return to Ottawa during the off-seasons to complete his kinesiology part time at the University of Ottawa and eventually hopes to pursue a career in physiotherapy.

The baseball season is intense, with multiple games some days and days off far and few between. They are so few that players actually being inducted into the Hall of Fame will not be able to attend the June 23 induction.

So Bisson knows what his first stop upon season end and return to Canada will be – St. Mary's, ON, to see his name posted under Team Canada 2011, next to other baseball greats like Larry Walker and Jackie Robinson.

“I could retire right now and look back and be happy,” he said. “I’ve accomplished a lot, it’s been a dream. I never thought the hard work was going to pay off like this.”