Passing of Joe Panik Announcement, News (Sarnia Braves Minor Baseball Association)

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Passing of Joe Panik Announcement
Submitted By Admin on Friday, June 5, 2020
Joe Panik - A Brave for life

Joe was born in Oil Springs on August 4, 1938. The family moved to Sarnia when Joe was ten. At age sixteen he signed with the Sarnia Midget baseball team. He played baseball for the Midgets, Juvenile and Senior Braves. He played as a call-up with the 1959 Sarnia Braves that won the city’s first Ontario Senior A championship. He was a player with the 1961 Braves senior team that were OBA Senior A championship finalists. In 1965 he took time out to raise his growing family.

By 1970, Joe became an SMAA volunteer. He eventually became SMAA baseball chairman. During his tenure he enhanced registration in baseball, especially at the T-ball and novice levels, and reorganized the travel program.
In 1972 he began umpiring, which he did for 44 years.

Joe revived the junior and senior levels of baseball in Sarnia in the late 1970’s, reintroduced the Sarnia Braves senior baseball and started the Sarnia Sun Devils. At times there has been up to fifty former Sarnia graduates playing on Western Counties Senior baseball teams. He convened several senior tournaments over the years and garnered many accolades and awards including several from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce for promoting baseball and tourism in the Sarnia area.

Joe was a major fundraiser for baseball in Sarnia over the years. These funds provided the city with hundreds of thousands of dollars for improvements at Errol Russell and Blackwell parks.

In 1994, along with Stan Slack, the Sarnia Braves Minor Baseball program was started. Joe was named president, a position he would hold for twenty-five years. The Sarnia Braves Minor Baseball Association and their fundraising supports ten minor teams with a budget over $100,000. Since 1994 the minor Braves have won eleven OBA championships at the A, AA, AAA level as well as finalists ten times. In 2019 the Senior Braves won the Ontario championship for only the third time. Of the twenty-eight players and coaches, twenty-four had played with the minor Braves.

In 2017 Joe was inducted into the Sarnia-Lambton Sports Hall of Fame. Until 2019 Joe was still running meat raffles and bingos for the Braves.

Through 60 years in baseball Joe was a player, coach, manager, executive, tournament director, fundraiser and umpire.
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