But What Do I Know? . . . Ellis Valentine, Sean Nolin, Oscar Judd

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My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

• Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Former Montreal Expos outfielder Ellis Valentine is the most talented player with the last name “Valentine” to suit up in the big leagues, but here’s a list of the some of the other “Valentines” that have competed in the majors.

• Leave it to Yogi Berra to sum up my feelings about Valentine’s Day: “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.”

• And while Toronto Blue Jays fans love Josh Donaldson, who inked a two-year, $29-million contract extension with the club on Monday, Oakland A’s fans continue to bemoan the deal that sent the all-star third baseman to Toronto on November 28, 2014. Not only did the A’s trade Brett Lawrie, the centerpiece of the A’s return in the Donaldson swap, to the Chicago White Sox on December 9, they also designated left-hander Sean Nolin for assignment on Friday. The 6-foot-4 left-hander, who was also part of the package for Donaldson, posted a 5.28 ERA in six starts for the A’s in 2015. That leaves right-handed starter Kendall Graveman and shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto as the only two players remaining in the A’s organization from the Donaldson deal.

• Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Oscar Judd was born in Rebecca, Ont., on this date in 1908. After leading Ingersoll and Guelph to Ontario championships, Judd played in seven different pro and semi-pro leagues prior to his major league debut in 1941.While in the St. Louis Cardinals system, Judd, who had hit as high as .416 in 1939, was asked by Branch Rickey to become a full-time outfielder, but the Canadian southpaw refused. Judd later made his big league debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1941, but it wasn’t until 1942 that he became a regular starter. His breakout season came the following campaign when he posted an 11-6 record, a sparkling 2.90 ERA and was selected to play in the all-star game. Two years later, he was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies and he registered 11 wins and tossed 12 complete games in 1946. When the Phillies released Judd in May 1948, he landed with the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs and proceeded to win 14 games, hit .349 and pitch a no-hitter at the age of 40. For his efforts, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986. Nine years later, he passed away in Ingersoll, Ont.

• Fun Canadian Baseball Fact: Two Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers, Dave McKay (Vancouver, B.C.) and Tim Wallach homered in their first major league at bat. McKay hit a solo home run for the Minnesota Twins off of Detroit Tigers right-hander Vern Ruhle in the third inning at Metropolitan Stadium on August 22, 1975 in a Twins’ 8-4 victory. Wallach walloped a pinch-hit, solo shot off of San Francisco Giants left-hander Phil Nastu in the eighth inning of an Expos’ 9-0 win at Candlestick Park on September 6, 1980.

 
• From the “He’s still playing?” file: former Blue Jays catcher Guillermo Quiroz inked a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians on Friday that includes an invite to big league spring training. Signed as a free agent by the Blue Jays in 1998, the 34-year-old Quiroz has hit .199 in parts of 10 major league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Giants. His two games with the Giants in 2014 represent his last big league action. The veteran backstop spent 2015 with the Giants’ triple-A Sacramento River Cats.

• Forty years ago today, the Atlanta Braves, who had finished in fifth place in the National League West division, 40-1/2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds, sent out a Valentine’s card to their season ticket holders and the media. The card read: “Rose is a Red, Morgan’s one, too. They finished first, like we wanted to. Last year’s behind us, we’re happy to say. Now we’re tied for first, Happy Valentine’s Day.”

• This week’s trivia question: Dave McKay is the only Canadian to hit a home run in his first major league at bat, but one other Canadian went deep in their first big league game (his fourth at bat). Can you name him? Hint: He was drafted by the Montreal Expos, but he never played a big league game with the Expos. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a Wade Boggs rookie card.

15 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Ellis Valentine, Sean Nolin, Oscar Judd

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  1. 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:

    Hi Kevin: One more place you could go with your theme today is which Canucks belted a homer for their first MLB hit, ala Chris Robinson a couple of years ago …

    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. That would be interesting. I wish there was an easy way to make that list.

    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:

      Yes, you are correct, Brent. Nice job! I’ll have the card in the mail to you tomorrow. Thanks again for your support!

  2. 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:

    Looks like the Jays made out better in the Donaldson deal 😉

    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:

      Sure seems that way, Devon. Although Graveman is a decent starter and Barreto could be a decent big league shortstop. Thanks for the comment, Devon.

    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 your kind words.

  3. Great information as always Kevin.
    I may have mentioned this to you previously but, given your items about Dave McKay, I offer this piece I wrote in my newspaper column during a tour of Florida spring training sites in 2009:

    In Viera I chatted with Dave McKay, the Cardinals’ Vancouver-born coach who has now teamed with legendary manager Tony La Russa for 24 seasons, about his own first major league game in 1975. I knew McKay was one of only 97 players who had homered his first time at bat in the big leagues but wasn’t sure if it was on the first pitch or not, something accomplished by just 22 players.
    Surprised that someone recalled his achievement, he quickly offered, “That was a long time ago.” But of course, he remembered.
    “It was on the second pitch,” he explained and, as he left to get on the team bus, he gave the thumbs up and repeated, “Second pitch.”

  4. 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 your kind words, Len, and for sharing the additional information about McKay’s homer.

  5. Hats off to your research team, Kevin! You do come up with the most fascinating (arcane?)…There are surprises in every column…ever thought of putting all this info into a book?…..much appreciated
    B

    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, Bill. A book is coming sometime. I’m just not sure when yet. Thank you for your support!

  6. Wow…what a Valentines card to send.
    Not too many 2 sided (hitter and pitcher) stars around anymore. Canuck Adam Loewen…Johnny Olerud….to name two off the top of my head.
    Kendall Graveman and shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto might be good down the road, but the Blue Jays got the best side of the trade right now.

    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, Scott. I think the key to the Donaldson deal for the A’s might be Barreto down the road.

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