Here’s part two of my look back at the top Canadian baseball stories of 2010 (in no particular order):
Ex-Expos broadcaster Dave Van Horne wins Ford C. Frick
While Jays fans lobbied for Tom Cheek to win the Ford C. Frick Award, it has to be considered a victory for Canadian baseball that longtime Expos play-by-play man, Dave Van Horne, was named the 2011 recipient. The voice of the Expos for 32 years, Van Horne called the club’s first game on April 8, 1969 and their last game (sadly as a member of the Florida Marlins broadcast team) on September 29, 2004. His “El Presidente . . . El Perfecto” call after Dennis Martinez’s perfect game on July 28, 1991 is one of the most famous calls in Canadian sports history. The National Baseball Hall of Fame hands out the Ford C. Frick annually to recognize broadcasting excellence.
Two Canadians complete a trade involving a Canadian
On December 6, Canadian Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos acquired Canuck prospect Brett Lawrie from Doug Melvin, the Canadian GM of the Milwaukee Brewers, for Shaun Marcum. This appears to be the only time in big league history that two Canadian GMs have completed a trade involving a Canadian player.
Ryan Dempster wins his 100th career game
Sechelt, B.C. native Ryan Dempster became just the fourth Canadian to win 100 games in the big leagues when he shutout the Milwaukee Brewers on September 11. Dempster would record two more victories before the season ended, and is poised to pass Reggie Cleveland (105 wins) and Kirk McCaskill (106 wins) and move into second place on the all-time Canadian wins list. Chatham, Ont., native Fergie Jenkins ranks first with 284 wins.
John Axford enjoys breakout rookie year
Simcoe, Ont., native John Axford enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010. Supplanting all-time big league saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, as the Brewers closer, the Canuck right-hander, who was out of baseball as recently as 2007, recorded eight wins, 24 saves and a 2.48 ERA in his rookie campaign.
Stubby Clapp named minor league manager
With his all-out hustle and grit, Stubby Clapp won the hearts of fans wherever he played. Selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 36th round of the 1996 draft, the sparkplug, 5-foot-8, 175-pound Windsor native overcame almost insurmountable odds to play 23 big league games in 2001. After serving as a coach in the Houston Astros organization for the past three seasons, the Canadian national team mainstay will manage the short-season Tri-City ValleyCats in 2011.
Max St. Pierre plays first big league game
After 13 arduous seasons in the minors, Quebec City native Max St. Pierre made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers on September 4, 2010. The 30-year-old Canuck would play in six games for the Tigers in 2010 and record two hits.