My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• With his victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday, Richmond, B.C., native James Paxton has won the first six decisions of his big league career. Surprisingly, this is not a Canadian record. Toronto, Ont., native Jesse Crain won the first 11 decisions of his career – albeit as a reliever – in 2004 and 2005.
• If I’m Brad Mills, I, of course, want to pitch in the big leagues, but with any team but the Toronto Blue Jays. His respective ERAs in his parts of four seasons with the Jays: 14.09, 5.64, 9.82 and 27.00. His combined ERA in four games with the two other major league clubs (Angels and A’s) he’s pitched for is 3.38.
• Over the past week, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hottest hitter has been none other than ex-Jay Travis Snider. The 26-year-old outfielder owns an eight-game hitting streak, batting .387 with three homers during that stretch.
• Condolences go out to the family of former Toronto Maple Leafs pitcher Mickey Sinks who passed away last week at the age of 74. The 6-foot-2 right-hander was a standout pitcher at Michigan State before signing with the Boston Red Sox. He spent six seasons in the Red Sox organization, including two in triple-A with championship-winning Maple Leafs teams. Used almost exclusively as a reliever while in Toronto, where he famously clashed with manager Dick Williams, he posted ERAs of 3.26 and 3.23 in 1965 and 1966 respectively. After retiring from pro ball in 1967, he coached at Oak Park High School in Michigan. Some of the players he coached left tributes in the Comments section of a blog entry I wrote about Sinks’ famous clash with Dick Williams in Toronto.
• There were a couple of interesting Blue Jays notes in Toronto Sun scribe Steve Simmons’ column on Sunday. Simmons says that regardless of where the Jays finish this year, multiple sources have told him that Canadian general manager Alex Anthopoulos will return in 2015. In the same column, he also notes that the Tampa Bay Rays demanded both Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison in exchange for David Price in trade talks earlier this summer.
• It was 76 years ago yesterday that former big leaguer Dick Lines was born in Montreal, Que. Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957, the Canadian southpaw was a starting pitcher in the Pirates’ system for seven seasons until he was converted into a reliever in 1964. On April 5, 1965, he was sold to the Washington Senators. He made his big league debut on April 16, 1966 and proceeded to become a reliable reliever with the Senators, recording a 2.28 ERA in 53 games. He followed that up by registering a 3.36 ERA in 54 contests the ensuing season before returning to the minors. He retired from baseball after the 1969 campaign and has settled in The Villages in Central Florida.
• To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s first professional home run, which he hit at Hanlan’s Point Stadium on Toronto Island on September 5, 1914, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is selling limited edition prints (numbered to 714) that have been signed by the artist. The Hall of Fame is the only place that’s selling these and this is an important fundraiser for the new museum. To purchase one, call the Hall of Fame at 519-284-1838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The print can be viewed here.