My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– Guelph, Ont., native Scott Diamond has been released by the Minnesota Twins, according to a report by Mike Berardino of Pioneer Press on Saturday. Diamond had pitched in 17 games for the Twins’ Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and had posted a 6.52 ERA. In 2012, the 27-year-old left-hander led the Twins with 12 wins, before struggling to a 6-13 record in 2013. “He was having a tough go,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony told Berardino about Diamond’s performance this season. “Hopefully, this will give him a fresh start.”
– Speaking of Canadian southpaws, North Delta, B.C., native Jeff Francis, who had been designated for assignment by the Oakland A’s on July 3, was acquired by the New York Yankees on Friday for a player to be named later. After being claimed on waivers by the A’s on May 18, the 33-year-old lefty had posted a 6.08 ERA in nine relief appearances. Earlier in the year, the Canuck hurler made one start for the Cincinnati Reds. Francis, now in his 10th big league season, will pitch out of the Yankees’ bullpen, but Bombers manager Joe Girardi says Francis could also be used as a starter.
– Also on Friday, Scarborough, Ont., native George Kottaras was claimed on waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Canadian catcher, who had batted .286 and hit three homers in 10 games for the Cleveland Indians this season before being designated for assignment, made his Cardinals debut when he pinch hit for Jhonny Peralta in the eighth inning and lined out to centre field in St. Louis’s 10-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. Kottaras, who has played parts of seven big league seasons, was picked up by the Cards to help replace all-star catcher Yadier Molina, who will miss eight-to-12 weeks with torn thumb ligament.
– One trivia question that I often stump baseball fans with when they visit the Canadian Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., is, what Canadian pitcher has appeared in the most big league games? The most common reply is Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.), but the answer is actually Port Hope, Ont., native Paul Quantrill. Quantrill, a reliever for much of his 14-year big league career, appeared in 841 games. Almost exclusively a starter during his 19 big league seasons, Jenkins toed the rubber in 664 contests. A display (pictured above) – complete with the official lineup card (pictured below) from the game on July 13, 2003 in which Quantrill passed Jenkins for the most appearances by a Canadian pitcher – honouring Quantrill can be viewed at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
– Thirty-two years ago yesterday, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. It was the first time that the Midsummer Classic had been played outside of the United States. Almost 60,000 fans crammed into The Big O to watch the National League club – which featured five Montreal Expos (Al Oliver, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter and Steve Rogers) on its roster – defeat the American League 4-1. Rogers started the game and registered the win. Right-hander Jim Clancy was the sole Toronto Blue Jay on the American League squad. He pitched a scoreless fourth inning. It’s also interesting to note that Montreal native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Jim McKean umpired third base and that Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Claude Raymond was one of the former players to throw out the first pitch.
– I gleaned another piece of Canadian baseball trivia from an excellent bio of Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Colman written by Tom Hawthorn for SABR. For a portion of his 22-game tenure with the New York Yankees in 1947 (he also played five games for the Yankees in 1946), Colman wore Babe Ruth’s No. 3. That means that two Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers wore No. 3 for the Bronx Bombers after Babe Ruth. Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk, who replaced Ruth in right field for the Yanks, also wore No. 3. A special thanks to Stephen Harding for forwarding me a link to the Colman bio.