But What Do I Know? . . . Jesse Barfield, Damaso Garcia, Pat Hentgen

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My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

• Former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jesse Barfield announced on Twitter on Monday that he’s 100 per cent cancer-free. The popular ex-Jay has not disclosed the type of cancer he was battling. Throughout his private battle, the 56-year-old Barfield remained active in baseball, participating in Blue Jays clinics and working as a hitting instructor for Competitive Edge Sports in Houston.

• One of Barfield’s former teammates, Damaso Garcia celebrates his 59th birthday today and he has done so against long odds. The former Blue Jays second baseman was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 1991 and given six months to live. But Garcia has survived for almost 25 years and has overcome significant health challenges to establish baseball camps for kids with disabilities in his native Dominican Republic. Baseball friends like Tony Fernandez, Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou have helped with the camps. Garcia spent parts of seven big league seasons with the Blue Jays and was the club’s first all-star second baseman. He finished his major league career with the Montreal Expos in 1989.

• The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2016 inductees on Tuesday. Ex-Blue Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen, former Montreal Expos hurler Dennis Martinez, trailblazing Canadian scout Wayne Norton, long-time Blue Jays executive Howard Starkman, early Blue Jays TV analyst Tony Kubek and baseball pioneer William Shuttleworth will be enshrined in a ceremony in St. Marys, Ont., on June 18. I was having a little fun with inductee first names this week and here’s what I discovered: Pat Hentgen joins former Blue Jays executive Pat Gillick in the ball shrine, while Tony Kubek will now have a plaque alongside ex-Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez. Also, assuming that William Shuttleworth was called “Bill” by his friends, he’ll join co-inductees Bill Phillips, Bill Slack and Billy Harris. For the record, the most popular Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee first names are John (John Ducey, John Hiller, John McHale, John McLean, John Haar) and Jim (Jimmy Archer, Jimmy Williams, Jim Fanning, Jim McKean, Jim Ridley).

• Fun Canadian Baseball Fact: Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker had a .565 slugging percentage during his major league career. This is the 12th best in major league history. Players that rank below Walker on that list include Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron.

• Remember that guy on Twitter in January 2012 that claimed to be Gavin Floyd’s cousin and tweeted that Floyd was about to be traded to the Blue Jays? At that time, with Floyd coming off a 12-win season with the White Sox and the Blue Jays in dire need of rotation help, the cousin’s tweets created a buzz amongst Blue Jays fans. Relatively quickly, however, his tweets were dismissed and a mock website called IsGavinFloydABlueJay.com (since taken down) was created. Well, four years later, that “cousin” may take some solace in knowing that the Jays have signed Floyd to a one-year, $1-million contract. It’s surprising to me that the 6-foot-4, 245-pound right-hander, who has endured Tommy John surgery and two subsequent elbow surgeries in the past three seasons, got a major league deal, but Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins saw Floyd pitch 13-1/3 innings with the Cleveland Indians at the end of last season. The 33-year-old hurler was an effective starter with the White Sox from 2009 to 2012. He could serve as a long man and spot starter for the Blue Jays.

• Somehow I missed that former Blue Jay Dustin McGowan signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins on December 12. After parts of seven, injury-riddled seasons with the Blue Jays, McGowan posted a 6.94 ERA and walked 20 batters in 23-1/3 innings for the Phillies last season before he was shipped to triple-A. McGowan’s contract with the Marlins includes an invite to big league spring training.

• In honour of Hank Aaron’s 82nd birthday on Friday, I thought I’d share with you one of his best quotes. It seems that while the Hammer was historically great with a bat, he was not so effective with a golf club. “It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits in baseball,” he once said, “but I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.”

• This week’s trivia question: In keeping with the fun I’ve been having with first names of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, there are also four inductees with the first name “Tom.” Can you name three of them? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a Fred McGriff rookie card.

10 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Jesse Barfield, Damaso Garcia, Pat Hentgen

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    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 kind words, Brent.

    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:

      Nice work, Lisa. You are correct. Can you send me an email at kevin.glew@sympatico.ca with your mailing address and I’ll mail out the McGriff card to you. Thank you for participating!

  1. Devon Teeple – Highly motivated and hard-working professional offering solid business skills in both baseball and corporate enterprises. Lifetime’s experience in athletics, culminating with a pro contract in 2001. Intimate knowledge of the athletic industry from the inside, with specific knowledge of what it takes to win, on the field and in the back office. Outgoing and extremely hard working with a passion for athletics and an ability to contribute immediately.
    Devon Teeple says:

    Great stuff Kevin! Thanks for sharing

    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, Devon.

  2. Tom Valcke – Stratford, Ontario – Tom Valcke put his iCASE Baseball Academy as well as his position of Head Coach at George Brown College into hiatus, when Hong Kong brought him there in 2018 to serve as head coach of their Men's Olympic baseball team, where he finished with unprecedented success in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, spiking their WBSC World Ranking from #41 to #28 in just one year under his tutelage. China then scooped up Valcke, as he became the GM and Head Coach of Panda Sport and Culture, a division of the China Olympic Federation, overseeing baseball and softball, and training the national team coaches of baseball and softball, men's and women's teams. Panda Sport and Culture is based in Zhongshan, China's nationally recognized "#1 Baseball City," located on the southeast tip of China, and has a climate much like Florida. On his own initiative, he spent his evenings working with the local coaches of Zhongshan's local amateur youth baseball teams. For the first time in history, the same city won all four 2019 China National Championship gold medals, in 18U, 15U, 12U and 10U, that city being Zhongshan! Valcke worked with the China Baseball Association and Major League Baseball in helping the world's largest country accelerate their evolution into baseball, and helped them design and build a professional baseball stadium, a 600-room dormitory, and a new HQ for Panda Sport and Culture, where he held the role of CEO, in charge of a staff of 60. Valcke, former Technical Director, and Executive Director of Baseball Canada, and former coach of Team Canada, remains a baseball analyst with CBC Canada Radio and TV. The former president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who spent a decade as the Canadian Supervisor with the Major League Baseball Central Scouting Bureau, served as a television broadcaster for the Montreal Expos, the GM of the Calgary Cannons Triple-A club, and the CEO/Head Coach of the World Children's Baseball Fair. He is the proud father of Alanna, Jaxon and Mia, and lucky husband of Paula since 1987. Jaxon and Mia are current star players and captains, respectively, of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball and softball teams. Mia also became the second female in history to play in World Cups for Team Canada Women's baseball team as well as Team Canada Women's softball team. https://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com/canadian-baseball-network-articles/baseball-nomad-valcke-a-top-amateur-executive http://www.wbsc.org/csta-prestige-awards-honors-tom-valcke/ https://cooperstownersincanada.com/2012/01/23/valcke-recognized-for-global-baseball-efforts/
    tomvalcke says:

    Thanks Kevin – interesting and enjoyable stuff! We’d be tied for first (Cheek, Henke, Lasorda & Burgess) if they’d put me in! Can you imagine that? It would be the first induction ever where nobody from the board showed up!

    Tom Valcke Field Manager/GM iCASE Baseball Academy International Canadian Academy of Sports Excellence http://icasebaseball.com Personal Email: valcke@quadro.net Cell: 519.703.4088

    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, Tom. Yes, you would be the fifth Tom, making for a three-way tie with the Johns and the Jims.

  3. great facts Kevin. You amaze me.
    It’s amazing how great Walker was and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Truly one of the best hitters EVER and all round players.

    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 kind words and your support, Scott.

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