My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• George Shuba, who played parts of three seasons with the Montreal Royals (1946, 1951, 1956), passed away on Monday in Youngstown, Ohio at the age of 89. The 5-foot-11 outfielder spent his entire professional career in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. And though he competed for parts of seven seasons in the big leagues, Shuba is best known for the photos that capture him (a white player) shaking Jackie Robinson’s hand after Robinson went deep for the Montreal Royals for his first home run in professional integrated baseball on April 18, 1946. One photograph of that moment (pictured above) has been deemed “The Handshake that Bridged Barriers” and is on display at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. Shuba is survived by his wife, Kathryn, two daughters and a son.
• It was quite a week for Mississauga, Ont., native Dalton Pompey. Last Tuesday, he belted a homer off of Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez to become the ninth Canadian to hit a home run for the Toronto Blue Jays. The other eight are Dave McKay (Vancouver, B.C.), Paul Hodgson (Marysville, N.B.), Rob Ducey (Cambridge, Ont.), Corey Koskie (Anola, Man.), Simon Pond (North Vancouver, B.C.), Matt Stairs (Saint John, N.B.), Brett Lawrie (Langley, B.C) and Adam Loewen (Surrey, B.C.).
• For an encore, on Friday, Pompey became the first Canadian to register two triples in a game for the Jays and one day earlier, Pompey and George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.) became the first two players from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to start in the same game for the Jays. The lineup card from Thursday’s contest is en route to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont.
• George Spencer, who pitched part of the 1963 season with the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs, passed away on September 10 at the age of 88 in Columbus, Ohio. The 6-foot-1 right-hander toed the rubber in parts of eight big league seasons with the New York Giants and Detroit Tigers between 1950 and 1960. His finest big league campaign came in 1951 when he registered 10 wins and posted a 3.75 ERA in 57 games for the Giants. Following his playing career, he worked as a pitching instructor in the Tigers and Cincinnati Reds organizations before returning to Ohio to become a sheet metal worker. He’s survived by his wife, Billie, two daughters, a son and two grandchildren. You can read his full obituary here.
• Happy Birthday to Jamie Romak, who was born in London, Ont. on this date in 1985. Originally selected by the Atlanta Braves in the fourth round of the 2003 MLB amateur draft, Romak toiled in the minors for 11 seasons in the Braves, Pirates, Royals and Cardinals organizations prior to making his big league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 28, 2014. The 6-foot-2 slugger, who has belted 173 minor league homers, socked a two-run double to deep centre field off of Rockies reliever Matt Belisle in the sixth inning on June 8 at Coors Field for his first major league hit. Romak spent the bulk of the 2014 campaign with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, where he hit .280 and smacked 24 home runs. Romak has also suited up for the Canadian National Team, including a stint with them at the 2007 Baseball World Cup.
• If you think you’re going to go through Blue Jays withdrawal now that their season is over, here’s a list ex-Jays you can cheer on in the post-season: Travis Snider, Pittsburgh; Jayson Werth, Washington; Brandon League, Los Angeles; Kelly Johnson, Baltimore; Rajai Davis, Detroit; Jason Frasor, Kansas City; Scott Downs, Kansas City; John McDonald, Anaheim and Jesse Chavez, Oakland.
• This week’s trivia question: In wake of Dalton Pompey’s two-triple performance in last Friday’s game, can you tell me which Canadian has recorded the most triples in a season with the Toronto Blue Jays? Please post your answer in the “Comments” section below. The winner will receive an autographed baseball card of the player who is the answer.