My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- Montreal native Russell Martin helped make history on Tuesday when he belted two home runs against the New York Yankees in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 12-6 victory at Yankee Stadium. In that game, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez also clubbed two home runs, marking the first time in American League history that the starting catchers for each team hit multiple home runs in the same game. It was also the 12th multi-homer game of Martin’s career and his third at Yankee Stadium.
- Speaking of Martin, at the end of May, his on-base percentage (OBP) was an ugly .264 and his slugging percentage was even worse at .259. Since that time, Martin’s OBP is .403 and his slugging percentage is .522.
- On the flip side, Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders (Victoria, B.C.) has struggled since the all-star break. In 82 games prior to the Midsummer Classic, he was batting .298 with a .372 on-base percentage and a .551 slugging percentage. In 25 contests since, he’s hit .162 with a .282 OBP and .323 slugging percentage and has just one home run in the second half.
- Twenty years ago today, Miramichi, N.B., native Jason Dickson made his major league debut for the California Angels at Yankee Stadium. The Canadian right-hander was greeted rudely by Bombers shortstop Derek Jeter, who belted his first pitch for a home run, but that was the only run that Dickson would allow. He pitched 6-1/3 innings to lead the Angels to a 7-1 win.
- The Blue Jays are definitely winning the Joaquin Benoit for Drew Storen trade that they made with the Seattle Mariners on July 26. Since coming to Toronto, Benoit has not allowed a run in 11 appearances. Storen, meanwhile, boasts a 4.35 ERA in 10 appearances for the M’s.
- On this day 13 years ago, Vladimir Guerrero socked his 226th home run with the Montreal Expos to break Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson’s team record. Guerrero record-breaking home run was a 454-foot blast in the third inning off of Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Odalis Perez at Dodger Stadium. In all, Guerrero slammed 234 home runs for the Expos.
- Former Montreal Royal Choo-Choo Coleman passed away on Monday at the age of 80 in Orangeburg, S.C., after a battle with cancer. Born in Orlando, Fla., he was nicknamed “Choo-Choo” by his friends when he was a kid because of his speed. Signed by the Washington Senators as a free agent in 1955, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound catcher spent parts of two seasons in the Senators organization before signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He’d hit .258 in 98 games as the starting catcher for the Dodgers’ triple-A Montreal Royals in 1960, before making his big league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies the ensuing year. After that season, he was selected 28th overall by the New York Mets in the expansion draft and he’d play parts of three seasons with the Mets. It was while with the Mets in 1962 that he reportedly gave his most famous interview: “What’s your wife’s name and what’s she like?” Ralph Kiner reportedly asked him. “Her name is Mrs. Coleman – and she likes me,” responded Coleman. After retiring as a player, Coleman worked as a cook in a restaurant in Virginia and more recently settled in Bamberg, S.C. He’s survived by his wife, Lucille, son Clarence and daughter, Elnora.
- When John Axford toed the rubber for the Oakland A’s on August 4, the Port Dover, Ont., native became the eighth Canadian pitcher to appear in 450 major league games. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has donated his cap from that game to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. The other seven Canadian pitchers to have appeared in 450 big league games are: Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.), Rheal Cormier (Cap-Pele, N.B.), Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.), Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.), John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.), Jesse Crain (Toronto, Ont.) and Ron Taylor (Toronto, Ont.).
- St. Marys, Ont., the home of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, will host the first annual Canadian Baseball History Conference on November 12 and 13. SABR member and longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer Andrew North is organizing the event, which will include presentations from esteemed baseball researchers and authors such as Bill Humber, Brian “Chip” Martin, Bill Young and David McDonald. Attendees will also be given a tour of the Canadian ball shrine. The cost to attend is $50. For more information, follow this link.
- This week’s trivia question: Four players hit more than 200 home runs for the Montreal Expos. The aforementioned Dawson and Guerrero are two of them. Who are the other two? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Andre Dawson card.