Henry is going back to the hall.
Longtime Glace Bay youth baseball icon Henry Boutilier is to be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame for a second time.
The retired school teacher was inducted into the hall in the Team category in 2004 as the manager of the 1987 Glace Bay Colonels who were the first team east of Montreal to win the Canadian Little League championship.
Now he’s making a second appearance. And this time he’s going in the Builder category.
When asked about the honour, Boutilier’s words express the same qualities and values he has been instilling in his young charges both on and off the ball field for the past four decades.
“Look, this isn’t just about me. Through all those years there was always other people, I might have always been with the team, but the coaches play a huge part, it’s everybody involved in the league. It’s not just one guy who did all this, it’s the whole program,” said the humble 66-year-old, who grew up in Glace Bay’s Caledonia area.
But it’s hard to ignore the success Boutilier has engineered on the ballfields of a former mining town, a community with an ever-shrinking pool of young ball players.
“Henry”, as he is simply known, started coaching Little League baseball in 1979. He coached and managed the Colonels to national championships in 1987, 1988, 1991, 1994 and 2003, which earned those teams invitations to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Between 1982 and 2015 he guided the Colonels to 19 Maritime championships and 24 provincial titles. And as if that weren’t enough, he also led the Cape Breton Dodgers to Canadian Big League championship titles in 2009 and 2010.
Boutilier can’t pinpoint the exact moment his lifetime attachment to baseball began, but he can’t recall a time when the sport wasn’t a central part of his life.
“For as long as I can remember, I always had a ball and a glove in my hand, since I was very, very young,” he recalled.
“And I remember when I was young my father, who was a coal miner, always took me to the old senior league ball games out at the old Number 11 field.”
Lifelong friend and fellow Glace Bay sports figure Nick Bonnar said Boutilier was always dedicated to the game and was driven to improve both as a young player and later as a coach.
“His dad really liked ball and gave a lot to the game over the years, so Henry picked it up from him but he took it further — he did a lot on his own, he worked hard and really wanted to be a good ballplayer and a good coach,” recalled Bonnar.
“And he’s also still teaching kids life values and life’s lessons — he’s given a lot of time of his life to kids both as a school teacher and as a coach and he deserves every bit of recognition he gets.”
Boutilier won’t be heading back to the hall alone. Five athletes and another builder will also be inducted during Friday’s ceremony that takes place at 7 p.m. at the Halifax Convention Centre. The event will be broadcast live on Eastlink TV.
The athlete inductees are Special Olympian powerlifter Jackie Barrett of Herring Cove; Justine Colley of East Preston, who as a member of the Saint Mary’s Huskies became the all-time leading scorer in Canadian women’s university basketball; Suzanne Muir, Dartmouth, who attended Saint Mary’s and also played for the Canadian national women’s soccer team; former Halifax Moosehead and NHLer Jody Shelley, a native of Yarmouth; and Morgan Williams of Cole Harbour, a rugby scrum half who has earned the most caps of any national team member.
The other builder being inducted is Springhill’s Roger Caulfield, a longtime basketball referee, who has officiated more than 1,000 Atlantic University Sport games along with scores of national and international appearances.