A Canadian has been selected to play in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game for the 16th consecutive season.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who grew up in Etobicoke, Ont., will bat cleanup for the National League in tonight’s Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Vancouver native Dave McKay, who was the first base coach on the St. Louis Cardinals World Series-winning squad last season, is on the National League coaching staff.
According to a list provided by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, 18 Canadians – nine pitchers and nine position players – have been selected for the all-star game over the years.
Here’s some trivia about the Canucks that have been chosen:
– The first Canadian selected was Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk, an outfielder with the New York Yankees, who toiled in the 1936 contest.
– Fort William, Ont., native Jeff Heath started in right field for the American League in the 1941 All-Star Game and hit fifth in their order behind Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. The Canuck slugger went 0 for 2 with a walk before being replaced by DiMaggio’s brother Dom.
– Three Canadians – Ryan Dempster, Justin Morneau and Russell Martin – were selected for the 2008 Midsummer Classic. This represents the highest number of Canucks ever chosen.
– The two hits Morneau recorded in that 2008 contest are the most by a Canadian in the Midsummer Classic.
– Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker’s five all-star selections (1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001) represent the most by any Canadian.
– Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) and Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) were selected to three all-star games each – the most by a Canuck pitcher.
– Jenkins’ six strikeouts in the 1967 contest tied an all-star game record. Among the players Jenkins fanned in that game were Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew.
– No Canadian has ever hit a home run in an all-star game, but Morneau did win the 2008 Home Run Derby.
– No Canadians were selected for an all-star game between Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) in 1978 and Walker in 1992.
– Two Canadian pitchers – Jason Dickson (Chatham, N.B.) and Jeff Zimmerman (Kelowna, B.C) – appeared in all-star games in their rookie seasons in 1997 and 1999 respectively.
Jason Dickson’s All-Star Memories:
In 2009, I had the opportunity to interview former Angels right-hander Jason Dickson, who grew up in Chatham, N.B., about his big league career. During the interview, I asked him about his memories of the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland that was selected to play in:
“You walk into the clubhouse, and I was still 23 or 24, but you’re looking at all these guys you have idolized growing up like Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens … It was a little overwhelming at first but you quickly realize you that you’re there along with them and that you’re on the same team . . . It was tough at first. I was pretty quiet and not really sure what to say or do.
“Some of the older guys kind of broke the ice, they made the first contact and said, ‘How are things? What’s going on?’ I still remember the two guys who really kind of showed me the ropes on what to do were Pat Hentgen and David Cone. They were just outstanding people in that they helped me and talked to me to make me feel comfortable and explained what would happen and what happened throughout the home run derby.”
Dickson’s mom and dad both attended the game. Unfortunately he didn’t get the opportunity to pitch.
“I was called in to talk to (American League manager) Joe Torre in his office and he said something like, ‘We’ve got a lot of arms and I don’t know how the pitching rotation is going to work out, but I don’t have you slotted in anywhere.’ In the back of my mind, I could do the math as well. You’ve got Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, David Cone and these other guys throwing, I knew I probably wasn’t going to get into pitch either and I wasn’t really too concerned about it . . . I know I have some pictures and videos (of the game) stashed away somewhere in my basement.”