My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
Scott Crawford, director of operations at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., is excellent at pointing out the milestones of Canadian players. On Friday evening, Montreal native Russell Martin played in his 29th postseason game to move past Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) into second place on the all-time list for most postseason games played by a Canadian. Martin, who has now suited up for 31 playoff contests, will have to compete in seven more to match Woodstock, Ont., native Tip O’Neill.
When he retires, former Blue Jay Chris Carpenter should be remembered as one of the best postseason pitchers ever. Since being low-balled out of Toronto by then-Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi after the 2002 campaign, Carpenter has posted a 10-2 record and a 2.88 ERA in 16 postseason starts.
For those of us old remember to remember the 1982 World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals: is Jason Motte not the spitting image of Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter?
I was sorry to hear that former Detroit Tigers slugger Champ Summers passed away on October 11 after a long battle with kidney cancer. Summers played parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues with the A’s, Cubs, Reds, Tigers, Giants and Padres. For the record, his real name was John Junior Summers, but he was nicknamed “Champ” at birth, when his father took one look at him and said, “He looks like he just went 10 rounds with Joe Louis.”
By my count, there’s only one former Montreal Expo active in the postseason. Giants reliever Guillermo Mota pitched with the Expos from 1999 to 2001.
Five former Blue Jays are still playing: Carpenter (St. Louis), Marc Rzepczynski (St. Louis), Jayson Nix (New York), Octavio Dotel (Detroit) and Marco Scutaro (San Francisco). Former Jays catcher Mike Matheny is also managing the Cardinals.
Three New York Yankees played in the minors in Canada: Alex Rodriguez (Triple-A, Calgary, 1994), Nick Swisher (Low-A, Vancouver, 2002) and Eric Chavez (Triple-A, Edmonton, 1998).
Two St. Louis Cardinals also pitched in the minors in Canada: Chris Carpenter (Short-Season A, St. Catharines, 1999) and Kyle Lohse (Triple-A, Edmonton, 2001).
Love the Champ Summers story about how he got his name! He was a Tiger I really enjoyed, and that short right field porch was just right for his swing!
Thanks for the comment, Tom. Yes, the first year I remember watching baseball was 1979 and Champ was a sensation in Detroit that summer. 21 homers in 90 games. He never repeated that kind of success, but I’ll always remember the summer of 1979.
I don’t remember Champ’s numbers but I remember that he brought a joy to the Tigers that had been lacking in many years. He played the game with heart and he endeared himself to the fans with his enthusiasm and great sense of humour. I may be mistaken about this bur former Tigers GM Doug Lajoie had a knack of picking up players that had tons of heart that other teams passed by. Think of guys like Enos Cabell, John Wockenfuss, Marty Castillo, John Grubb and so many others during the late seventies and eighties. Champ is another player that he brought into Detroit………….seemingly out of nowhere who made the Tigers instantly more fun to watch. God bless you Champ!!!
Well said and thanks for the comment, David. Interestingly enough Champ’s final big league at bat came as a member of the San Diego Padres against the Detroit Tigers in the 1984 World Series. He also managed the Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies in 2001, so he would’ve passed through Labatt Park when the Grizzlies played the London Werewolves. I wish I would’ve interviewed him.
… and, Champ also beat Jimmy Connors in a tennis match as a kid growing up. He also was invited to a Dallas Cowboys’ camp. Remember, those were the days the Tom Landry Cowboys would sign or draft exceptional athletes… Pete Gent, Bob Hayes, even drafted Pat Riley in 1967!
Wow. Did not know this, Tom. Thanks for sharing this.
From Devon Teeple:
Very sad to hear about Champ Summers passing.
Champ was my coach when I played professionally.
I truly thank him for giving me the opportunity to play.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
Devon Teeple – Founder / Executive Director – The GM’s Perspective
Thanks for the note, Devon. I didn’t realize that Champ was your manager.