OTTAWA – Baseball Canada is extremely saddened to learn of the passing of former national team athlete, Canadian Olympian and 16-year major league pitcher Rhéal Cormier after a courageous battle with cancer.
He was 53 years old.
“I am shocked and saddened to learn of Rheal’s passing,” said Baseball Canada President Jason Dickson, a fellow New Brunswicker and former Olympian and Canadian major leaguer. “He was a tremendous pitcher and competitor who represented our country on the biggest stage. Above all, Rhéal was a great person and family man who will be dearly missed.”
Born in Moncton, New Brunswick, Cormier first represented Canada with the Youth National Team in 1985 before participating with the national side at the 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul when baseball was a demonstration sport.
Cormier attended Community College of Rhode Island where he was an All-American in 1987 and 1988 before the St. Louis Cardinals made him a sixth round selection in the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft.
He made his big league debut on August 15, 1991 against the New York Mets and so began a 16-year major league career that included stops in St. Louis (‘91-’94), Boston (‘95, ‘99, ‘00), Montréal (‘96, ‘97), Philadelphia (‘01-’06) and Cincinnati (‘06, ‘07).
Cormier had some of his best seasons with the Phillies where he made a career-high 84 appearances in 2004 and went 8-0 with one save and a 1.70 ERA to rank third among all National League relievers in 2003.
With his playing career winding down, Cormier returned to the national team program first with the inaugural World Baseball Classic squad in 2006 before pitching for Canada at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In 2012, Cormier was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Baseball Canada sends sincere condolences to Rhéal’s his wife Lucienne, son Justin and daughter Morgan.