Bernie Soulliere has been deeply involved in baseball at virtually every level since the 1970s. He was president of Mic Mac Baseball Club at the time of his induction into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame.
Soulliere was born in Windsor on July 6, 1937. He attended and played basketball and softball at St. Genevieve Elementary School, winning a city championship in the latter sport. Later, Soulliere attended W. D. Lowe High School.
Some two decades later, Soulliere began to participate heavily in local baseball. He served as an umpire, coach, manager, and organizer – sometimes separately, sometimes simultaneously – during a career that lingered into the 20th century.
As a Mic Mac Junior Baseball manager, Soulliere won Canadian Titles, in 1972 and ’78, Ontario titles in ’72, ’73, ’76, and ’78, and League Playoff titles in ’72, ’74, ’75, and ’78. Soulliere also won gold medals with the Ontario provincial team at the Canada Summer Games in 1981, ’85, and ’89.
Soulliere was named Sports Chairman of Mic Mac Baseball Club in 1975 and both Fundraising Chairman and Sports Chairman of the Greater Windsor Baseball Association in ’84. He continued to hold both titles at the time of his induction. He also served as Vice-President of Baseball Canada, for six years in the early 1990s, and President of the Ontario Baseball Association, in ’94 and ’95.
At the international level, Soulliere has served as Chef de Mission for Canada’s national teams on over 10 occasions. As Business Manager, he worked with the Canadian National Senior Baseball Team at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, the 2000 World Championship Qualifiers in Panama, the ’01 World Championships in Taiwan, two tournaments in Nicaragua, and individual tournaments in Amsterdam and Italy. He was also Business Manager for the National Youth Team (ages 16 to 18) at a competition in Orlando, Florida.
In 1973, Soulliere was named “Man-of-the-Year” by the Montreal chapter of professional baseball writers during a ceremony at Jarry Park, home of the Montreal Expos.
Another tremendous honour came in 2001. Major League Baseball, in an effort to promote the sport as an international game, organized the All-Star Baseball World Tour, for which a single baseball was transported around the world, signed, and eventually thrown out as a ceremonial first pitch at games involving Major League teams. The ball was eventually presented to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In July of that year, Soulliere had the honour of signing and pitching the ball prior to a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. Major League Baseball selected him in recognition of his work to advance Canadian youth baseball.
Outside of Canada, the baseball’s journey took it to thirteen countries: Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Holland, South Africa, and the United States. Aside from Soulliere, the ball was signed and ceremonially pitched by Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, and Tony Perez.
Soulliere was Chairman of highly successful World Youth Baseball Championships in 1986, ’87, and ’93, all of which were held at Mic Mac Park. Today, one of the diamonds at the park is named in his honour.