February 26, 2018
The Hong Kong Baseball Association announced Friday the hiring of Canadian Tom Valcke to coach its men’s national team on a contract that extends from March 1 through the 2018 Asian Games being hosted in Indonesia in August, followed by the 2018 Asian Cup, which will take place in Hong Kong in September.
“After that, we’ll assess our progress and our results, and we’ll decide to either move forward or change directions,” Valcke said.
Valcke is the head coach of George Brown College's men's baseball team and a CBC Radio Canada and TV baseball analyst. The St. Marys native is also a director with the newly opened Pinnacle Fieldhouse Training Academy and runs the International Canadian Academy of Sports Excellence (iCASE).
Asian powerhouses Japan, Korea and Taiwan are ranked second, third, and sixth in the world, respectively, with Hong Kong holding the position of 40th, down from 31st a year ago. The United States is first with Canada sitting seventh.
“In the short time we have, we’ll fine tune some minor mechanical flaws,” Valcke said, “and these guys are smart and hard-working enough to get the corrected versions repeated about 10,000 times, the number that sports scientists encourage in order to bring a skill from the batting tunnel or bullpen into game performance.”
Valcke has been to Asia more than 20 times to run events such as the World Children’s Baseball Fair, and he's served as a technical commissioner for various international championships such as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games.
“We also need to grind out smoother and more consistent tactical components as a team, such as relays and cut-offs, bunt coverages, pick-offs and first-and-third defence,” he said. “While the Goliaths are a significant cut above the Davids, in the short-term, we are hoping to overcome Asian countries such as China and Pakistan who are currently ranked ahead of us. Right now, it is about coming out on top of the one-run ball game, and beating the countries that we can beat.”
Valcke worked for the commissioner’s office of Major League Baseball as a scouting supervisor when he established the Central Scouting Bureau in Canada. He also spent time covering the San Joaquin Valley in California and Las Vegas.
A six-time national champion as a player and coach, Valcke was Baseball Canada’s executive director as well as a Team Canada coach. A master course conductor with Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), Valcke has been involved in the globalization of the game, having taught in 22 different countries. He also was the general manager of the Calgary Cannons triple-A franchise, the TV analyst for the Montreal Expos in their final season, and served as president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Tom’s international experience and deep knowledge of how the game is supposed to be played made it an easy choice for us to seek him out for this position,” said Sean Au, general manager of Team Hong Kong.
“We have great trust and respect in Tom. His passion for baseball is infectious, and he not only has the gift of being able to break down and identify areas needing improvement and how to overcome them, but his approach is friendly, encouraging, and direct. He relates to players very well.”