Courtesy Fergie Jenkins Foundation (fergiejenkins.ca)
In a surprise ceremony that took place at his 19th annual Charity Golf Classic on Friday, June 15 in St. Catharines, Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was presented with a key to the city by mayor Brian McMullan.
The longtime Chicago Cubs ace is just the third person to receive this honour during the McMullan’s mayoral tenure, following mayor Murchison Brown, Port of Spain Trinidad (2008) and Rosemary Drage Hale, dean of humanities at Brock University (2010).
Jenkins was selected as a recipient for his charity work in the Niagara region through the Fergie Jenkins Foundation. In addition to his charitable work, Jenkins continues to be a strong advocate for black history awareness in the Garden City.
“I am very humbled to receive this distinction,” said Jenkins. “It has been a pleasure to do charity work in St. Catharines and I look forward to continuing to have such a great relationship with its citizens and other charitable organizations.”
“Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins has excelled in sports, is community-minded, a black history advocate and has inspired others to follow their dreams,” said mayor Brian McMullan. “It is my honour to present him with the key to the city.”
The Fergie Jenkins Foundation was established in 1997 with the purpose of raising funds for charities and community initiatives across North America. The Foundation supports hundreds of charities across Canada and the United States and has raised more than $4-million since its inception.
Jenkins grew up in Chatham, Ont., where he excelled in baseball, basketball, and hockey. After graduating from high school in the early ’60s, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but it wasn’t until he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs in 1966 that he was converted into a starting pitcher.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Jenkins recorded 20 wins and was selected to play in the 1967 all-star game. The durable hurler followed that up by leading the National League with 40 starts and a 20-15 record in 1968. Those two seasons were part of a remarkable string of six consecutive 20-win seasons (1967 to 1972) for the Canuck superstar. His 1971 campaign ranks as his most impressive. That season, he led the National League with 24 wins, 30 complete games and 325 innings pitched and became the first Cub to win the Cy Young Award.
Dealt to the Texas Rangers following the 1973 season, Jenkins recorded 25 wins, 29 complete games, 245 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA in 1974. The Canadian pitching legend retired with 284 career wins and as the only pitcher in history to record more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,192), while allowing fewer than 1,000 walks (997). Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez have since joined that elite group. Jenkins was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 21, 1991, becoming the only Canadian to be so honoured.