Vooght is remembered as a star pitcher from the Valley

·3 min read

Renfrew -- He was one of the greatest pitchers to ever don a senior baseball uniform in Ontario.

He threw for Douglas, Guelph in the Intercounty league, Deep River, the Pembroke Pirates and the Renfrew Red Sox.

He was such a marvel on the mound that he was given a look-see with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Montreal way back when. He was also courted by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jack Vooght is being remembered as a great pitcher, teammate and individual following his death May 8 of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although he suffered from Alzheimer’s for a few years, Mr. Vooght had some memory flashes when he told the Leader in 2020 about "pitching on the sidelines'' for the Dodgers in Montreal.

“They wanted to showcase me. They wanted to catch me,’’ he said.

Mr. Vooght’s sister, Valerie Sheffield, said then Dodgers scout Tommy Lasorda sent an invitation to the Vooght household, requesting that he show up for a more official look at a Dodgers camp in the U.S., likely at the Dodgers spring-training base in Vero Beach, Florida.

"I was a little kid at the time,'' Valerie told me. "Jack wasn't aware of the letter. I remember that letter came. My mother (Mona) was very upset. She didn't want Jack to go to the U.S. She didn't want him to be in that environment (baseball). So she didn't show him the letter. She didn't want him to go at the time. There were no salaries then and prestige didn't exist. She thought he had a good steady job.

"She didn't understand the ramifications of it. Holy doodle. It could have gone the other way.''

The “other way’”, meaning Mr. Vooght could have pitched in the majors if he had been given an official tryout.

He told the Leader he was 16 when he began playing senior ball for Renfrew. That would have been 1954. He went on to play some 23 seasons of adult ball, all in Ontario, although he spent many more years in Oldtimers’ ball.

At the very young age of 19, Mr. Vooght was voted the North Renfrew Senior Baseball League’s MVP in 1957 while playing for Deep River.

In 1959, a strange thing happened. He played that season for both Renfrew and Pembroke. Prior to the July 15th deadline for movement of players, Mr. Vooght obtained his release from his hometown Red Sox to play for Pembroke so he could be his brother Bill’s teammate. Both had been teammates with Deep River.

Mr. Vooght left the North Renfrew league to pitch for Guelph in 1962-63 and then came back to the Ottawa Valley to help Douglas to the South Renfrew league championship in 1964. He was also a prominent member of Renfrew’s three consecutive league titles in the North Renfrew loop from 1972-74.

During the 1974 season, he pitched a no-hitter for Renfrew against Ottawa’s Alta Vista Ritchies in Interprovincial league play.

Mr. Vooght was a teacher by trade. He taught for years at Our Lady of Fatima in Renfrew and Renfrew Collegiate Institute.

Mr. Vooght and Ilse Van Woezik of Douglas met on a blind date and were married June 26, 1966 in Douglas. He leaves his wife Ilse, daughter Paula, son James, grandson Trevor and sisters Valerie and Carrie.

Danny Gallagher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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