OBA mourns the loss of John Upham

OBA is saddened by news of the passing of former Chicago Cub and long-time Windsor area coach and 2021 OBA Hall of Fame Inductee, John Upham. The Windsor, Ontario native was 83-years-old.

John was known as an exceptional multi-sport athlete. “Uppy” played hockey, basketball, slow-pitch with power-house teams Merrifield and Lanny’s, and baseball at the highest level. One of his greatest pleasures in life was coaching. “Coach” inspired multiple generations of ball players to be their best. He was passionate about sharing his vast knowledge with players and coaches locally, provincially, and nationally.

John was a much-loved educator, spending most of his career as a “Purple Raider” at his beloved alma mater Assumption College High School. There, he forged many life-long friendships and made lasting memories. 

John had a way with words. His speeches, stories and “bad” jokes could leave you laughing out loud, rolling your eyes, or wiping tears.  At home, “Dad” the English scholar, incessantly corrected grammar and gave mini-lessons at every opportunity.

John had an innate ability to befriend new people wherever he traveled despite his bone-crushing handshake.  He constantly ran into people who knew him everywhere. A brief trip to the mall could take hours.

John was a cancer survivor.  He struggled alongside his daughter Heather and maintained a positive attitude throughout.  He was happy to be alive. Of his many talents, the most significant was being a loving grandfather, father, and husband.

Upham was a standout athlete at Assumption high school where he played baseball, hockey and baseball. He won city and provincial titles in basketball while being named a first-team all-star.

After high school, he turned down scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan and Detroit and instead signed with Philadelphia in 1960. He signed with the Cubs in 1966 and and eventually reached the majors with Chicago in 1967 and again joined the team in 1968.

After nine pro seasons, he’s returned to Windsor and began his coaching career.

Upham managed Riverside’s bantam team to a national bronze medal in 2000 and a silver medal in 2001. He served as the pitching coach for Canada at three-straight world junior championships, coached third base for Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games, managed Canada’s world junior team in 1989 and 1990, served as the country’s pitching coach at the Pan-Am Games in 2011 and also managed the Canadian senior team in 1992.