My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
– If you’re seeking Montreal Expos content in the League Championship Series, you’ll have to look to the coaching staffs. Tim Wallach, who played the most games for the Expos, is coaching third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Mike Aldrete, who suited up for Montreal in 1989 and 1990, is in the dugout across from him, serving as the St. Louis Cardinals bench coach. Greg Colbrunn, who played for the Expos in 1992 and 1993, is the batting coach for the Boston Red Sox.
– Let’s also not forget that Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire was selected by the Expos in the eighth round of the 1981 draft out of high school, but he elected to go to the University of Southern California and was chosen by the Oakland A’s when he re-entered the draft in 1984.
– Thanks to prominent Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer Andrew North for forwarding me this query from a SABR member after the first game of the American League Championship Series on Saturday: “Al Alburquerque faced Jarrod Saltalamacchia last night. Is that the longest batter/pitcher combination of surnames in an at bat? Are there are any that are longer?” I haven’t heard an answer to this. Does anyone out there know the answer?
– Does throwing a no-hitter increase the demand for a player’s baseball cards and autographed items? You bet it does. On September 28, the day before ex-Blue Jay Henderson Alvarez hurled his no-no against the Detroit Tigers, not a single Alvarez baseball card or signed item sold on eBay. After throwing his no-hitter during the afternoon on September 29, 62 Alvarez cards or autographs sold on eBay that night alone.
– I was wondering why Detroit Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones looked so familiar to me. It turns out that he was the pitching coach of the Double-A London Tigers in 1991 and 1992. I was a regular at London Tigers games at Labatt Park in those two seasons.
– Andy Pafko, who played 17 seasons in the big leagues from 1943 to 1959 with the Cubs, Dodgers and Braves, passed away last Tuesday at age 92. The Wisconsin native hit .285 and belted 213 homers in his fine playing career, but he’s perhaps best remembered for being the first card in the storied 1952 Topps Baseball card set, which harbored the Mickey Mantle rookie. Being the first card in the set, the Pafko card was often on top of young collectors’ piles and was subjected to more wear and tear than the other cards. As a result, finding a 1952 Topps Pafko in high grade is almost impossible. The last graded near-mint to mint copy sold for more than $53,000 at auction in August 2010.
– I’m finally reading Bill Madden’s excellent 2010 biography of George Steinbrenner called “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball.” One interesting revelation in the book for Blue Jays fans is that when Jays president Paul Beeston initially talked with Steinbrenner about dealing David Cone to the Yankees prior to the 1995 trade deadline, one of the prospects that Beeston expressed interest in was a young left-hander named Andy Pettitte. Fortunately for the Yankees, their GM Gene Michael convinced the Jays to focus on a “promising” right-hander named Marty Janzen instead. In the final deal – one of the worst in Jays history – that was completed on July 28, 1995, the Jays received Janzen and young right-handers Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon in exchange for Cone.
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