Community effort to get Barry Marchand installed in Hall of Fame awaits word

ARICHAT: Those trying to have Barry Marchand enshrined into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame are awaiting word from the provincial organization.

Arichat resident Gerry Samson worked for more than a year on the submission, which included input from the man himself, as well as statistics, four letters of recommendation, a nominating letter, a photo of Marchand, personal information (date of birth, address, postal code, initials, next of kin), how long Marchand had been inactive in sports, and information on those who wrote letters of support.

Marchand passed away at his home in Petit de Grat on April 25 at the age of 71.

“Barry did the work, I just put it together,” Samson told The Reporter. “I didn’t do it for recognition; I did it because I felt that Barry was a big part of the community.”

Samson attended Isle Madame District High with Marchand from the early to mid-1960s, and was witness to his athletic brilliance as the star of the hockey, basketball and volleyball teams.

After watching a television program about the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame early in 2020, Samson felt he had to do something.

“Here we are with a fella that’s been involved with sports for about 60 years and nobody has even thought of trying to get him elected,” he said.

Samson said he then went online and was sent application forms from Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame manager – facility and communications, Shane Mailman.

A couple of days later, Samson spoke with Marchand during a pool tournament at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 150 in Arichat. Marchand told him there was an attempt to get him installed into the Hall of Fame which “never materialized.”

“So I said, ‘Barry would you mind if I tried?’ ‘No,’ he said,” Samson recalled.

Samson then got in touch with former Richmond MLA and provincial cabinet minister Richie Mann, former municipal councillors Gerry Bourque and James Goyetche, as well as long-time team mate Richard Boudreau to provide written testimonials.

“They all wrote awesome, awesome recommendations, because these were character witnesses, and people who played ball with him from the time they were small,” Samson noted.

Marchand also provided Samson with a large folder full of newspaper clippings, photos and statistics, which weren’t easy to summarize since the application could be no longer than 12 pages.

“If I would have given them what’s in that folder that he gave me, they’d be reading for four days, some of the stuff that that man has accomplished,” Samson said. “I did some packing on the pages of some of the stuff that man accomplished.”

Once the submission was compiled, Samson sent it via registered mail to the Hall of Fame.

“We’re just waiting for confirmation whether or not he’ll be elected,” he said on May 10. “(Mailman) told me that they had received it so it’s in God’s hands.”

Bolstering Marchand’s submission is the fact that the Petit de Grat Red Caps are in the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, a team for which Marchand played and coached most of his time in the game.

Marchand first joined the Red Caps of the former Richmond County Baseball League at the age of 14, around the same time he played with the Sydney Steel Kings Junior Baseball team. He then went to play for the Louisdale Baracos when the Richmond Amateur Baseball Association (RABA) was formed in 1970, becoming one of the league’s top players.

“Even at this young age, it was evident that Berry was a special talent,” Bourque wrote. “He had all the tools, speed and tremendous arm, and as a switch hitter, he was almost impossible to defend. He could play all nine positions equally well. All his attributes came naturally.”

In the late 1970s, Marchand played with the Sydney Sooners, then joined Mann and Bourque on the St. Peter’s Royals, both of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League (NSSBL), before returning to RABA action with Petit de Grat in the mid-1980s.

“I am certain that if Barry Marchand would have been born in a different era with his talent that he would have been a major leaguer,” Goyetche wrote in his submission. “All good baseball players did not look that good when Barry Marchand was playing. He stole the show.”

Among his accomplishments were playing on the Nova Scotia Baseball Intermediate ‘A’ championship team in 1977, MVP of the 1981 Atlantic Canadian Intermediate ‘B’ Baseball championship, a member of the 1982 Intermediate ‘A’ championship team, as well as 13 RABA championships from 1997-2010 with the Red Caps.

“Barry is well known all over the Maritimes,” Boudreau wrote in his submission. “Wherever he played, he left an impression as a great hitter. Barry played at the regional, the provincial and national levels. Barry excelled as a player, proven by the many individual awards he received throughout his career.”

This excellence continued for many years, with Marchand leading the RABA in hitting well past the age of 50.

And not just as a player and coach, Marchand was instrumental in the expansion of the Petit de Grat Ballfield with “Project ‘86” and he spent decades maintaining the facility.

“Barry’s involvement in our communities has resulted in many projects being completed, but his most cherished was the modernizing of the Petit de Grat Ballfield,” Samson wrote in his submission. “This complex is second to none anywhere in Nova Scotia.”

Bourque noted in his submission that Marchand also helped constructed the minor ballfield adjacent to St. Joseph’s Church in Petit de Grat.

“With no field for the youth, Barry once again came to the rescue making a little league field next to the school,” he wrote.

Goyetche agreed in his written submission.

“Because of Barry Marchand, we have the only lighted baseball field in Richmond County,” he wrote. “He provided a little league baseball field for minor baseball, made sure they had uniforms, baseball bats and baseballs.”