But What Do I Know? . . . Justin Morneau, Joey Votto, Gary Waslewski

Canadian Baseball Card of the Week: 2011 In The Game Canadiana Jack Kent Cooke. A natural salesman, Jack Kent Cooke was born in Hamilton but moved to The Beaches area in Toronto in 1921. After a string of prosperous business ventures, including owning radio stations and publications, Cooke purchased the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 1951.
Under his flamboyant reign, the club drew more than 3.3 million fans to Maple Leaf Stadium from 1951 to 1963. Creative and sometimes off-the-wall, Cooke’s promotions made attending a game in Toronto an event. For his efforts, he was named minor league executive of the year by The Sporting News in 1952, when the Leafs drew 446,040 fans – an attendance mark that eclipsed some major league clubs. While Cooke was the owner, the Maple Leafs won pennants in 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1960. He also passionately believed that Toronto was worthy of a big league team and harangued local politicians to build a larger stadium. While in Toronto, Cooke made attempts to purchase the St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. But when his dream of bringing the big leagues to Toronto was thwarted, he moved to the U.S., where he would eventually own several pro sports franchises, including the Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):

– After initially sporting No. 36 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau has settled on No. 66. Morneau’s trademark No. 33 – which he donned as a tribute to both Patrick Roy and Larry Walker – was previously worn by Honus Wagner in Pittsburgh and has been retired by the club. With his new number, Morneau becomes the second-most famous Canadian to wear No. 66 for a Pittsburgh professional sports team. Mario Lemieux, of course, is the most famous, wearing that number for the Penguins for his entire 17-year NHL career. Morneau also becomes the second Canadian to sport No. 66 in the big leagues. The first was Lachine, Que., native Derek Aucoin who pitched for the Expos in 1996.

– The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame reported that Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) set a new record for most walks in a season when he received his 110th free pass of 2013 on Thursday. Votto broke his own record (109) that he set in 2011.

– Stephen Harding, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s hard-working, “relief” curator this September, called on Friday to let me know that original Montreal Expo Gary Waslewski had visited the museum. Waslewski posted a tidy 3.29 ERA in 30 appearances – including 14 starts – for the Expos in their inaugural 1969 season. The 6-foot-4 right-hander returned to pitch in six games for the Expos in 1970, before being dealt to the Yankees. Prior to his tenure with the Expos, Waslewski also pitched for the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs from 1965 to 1967. In all, Waslewski toed the rubber for parts of six seasons in the majors, also appearing in games for the Red Sox, Cardinals and A’s.

– It still bothers me the way Russell Martin (East York, Ont.) handled things heading into this year’s World Baseball Classic. The all-star catcher said he would only suit up for the Canadian squad if they allowed him to play shortstop, a position he hadn’t manned at a competitive level for several years. But to Martin’s credit, he has put together an excellent season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His WAR – Wins Above Replacement – an all encompassing statistic that measures how many wins a player is worth above what a Triple-A replacement at his position would contribute – is 4.2 – the second-best of his career. He has also contributed 13 home runs and thrown out a National League-leading 44 per cent of baserunners attempting to steal off of him.

– The 1981 Montreal Expos – the only Expos club to make the post-season – has produced some excellent big league coaches. Four of them – Tim Wallach (third base coach, Dodgers), Chris Speier (bench coach, Reds), Terry Francona (manager, Indians) and Brad Mills (third base coach, Indians) – have legitimate shots at coaching playoff teams this season.

– With the addition of Morneau, the Pirates will likely head into the playoffs with two Canadians (Morneau and Martin) and three ex-Toronto Blue Jays (Travis Snider, A..J. Burnett and John Buck) on their roster. For good measure, the Pirates’ third base coach is Nick Leyva – a staple of Cito Gaston’s coaching staffs in Toronto.

– If you’re an Expos fan, one of the most anticipated books of 2014 will be Montreal native Jonah Keri’s extensive tome on the franchise. It will be available in stores on March 11, 2014, but you can pre-order it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.ca/Up-Away-Business-Ill-fated-Unforgettable/dp/0307361357.  One of the most respected baseball scribes in the business, Keri is a regular contributor to ESPN and Grantland and also penned an excellent 2011 book about the Tampa Bay Rays’ success called “The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First.”

– If you haven’t already done so, please “LIKE” the Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page. I update this page regularly with links to Canadian baseball stories. Thanks again for all your support.

3 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Justin Morneau, Joey Votto, Gary Waslewski

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  1. Also in the playoffs hopefully are Votto, Axford.
    I had a good chat with Gary. Great guy. He has some Rusty and Fanning stories to share….but I don’t want to write the story here.
    Good for Russell. With Votto’s recent slump who know who will win the Tip award for 2013 (check out Henderson’s numbers)

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Scott. I’d love to hear Gary’s stories. Martin has been unbelievable at throwing out runners this year.

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