My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- My hope is that some in the baseball community today will pause to remember Marty Boryczewski. He was a catcher with the Pioneer League’s Lethbridge Mounties in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 1994 before moving on to a career in investment banking with Cantor Fitzgerald in New York City. He was working in the World Trade Center 15 years ago today when it was attacked. He died when he was only 29.
- As expected former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was a candidate for the Minnesota Twins’ president of baseball operations position. But according to Mike Berardino of Pioneer Press, Anthopoulos has withdrawn his name from consideration. Currently employed as vice-president of baseball operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Montreal native has just moved his family, which includes two young children, to Los Angeles to start the school year.
- Speaking of Anthopoulos, three of the deals he made with the Blue Jays are on well-known baseball writer Jon Heyman’s list of the top 20 trades of the past two seasons. Anthopoulos’s acquisition of Josh Donaldson from the Oakland A’s for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and prospect Franklin Barretto on November 28, 2014 tops the list. But Anthopoulos is also applauded for dealing Adam Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marco Estrada (14th on the list) and for swapping Anthony Gose to the Detroit Tigers for Devon Travis (15th on the list).
- Thanks to Scott Crawford at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for pointing out that New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau played his 1,532nd major league game on Friday to pass Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) to move into third amongst Canadians for games played. Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker (1,988 games) and Fredericton, N.B., native Matt Stairs (1,895 games) are the only two Canadians to rank ahead of Morneau. Crawford also points out that with his next run (his 770th) Morneau will move into a tie with Stairs for fifth on the all-time Canadian list.
- Thirty-six years ago today, outfielder Ron LeFlore stole his 91st base of the season in the Montreal Expos’ 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs at Olympic Stadium. LeFlore’s stolen base total, combined with second baseman Rodney Scott’s 58 stolen bases to that point, set a new major league record for most steals by teammates in the same season. LeFlore finished the campaign with 97 steals, while Scott ended up swiping 63. Their record was broken five years later when St. Louis Cardinals teammates Vince Coleman (110 stolen bases) and Willie McGee (56 stolen bases) combined for 166 stolen bases.
- Please take a moment today to remember Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer John Ducey, who passed away on this date in 1983 at the age of 75. Ducey was a player, umpire and administrator in Alberta for more than 60 years. One of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural inductees, Ducey umpired professional and amateur contests from 1931 to 1945. After serving in front office positions with American Hockey League teams in Springfield and Buffalo, Ducey returned to Edmonton in 1946 to begin his career as a baseball executive, promoter, general manager, scout and coach. Two of his most successful tenures came with the class-A Western International League Edmonton franchise (1946 to 1960) and the Canadian team that finished second at the Global World Championships in Japan in 1957. For his efforts, Ducey was named Edmonton’s Sportsman of the Year twice (1954, 1957) and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. After his death, the Edmonton Trappers, a former triple-A Pacific Coast League club, renamed their ballpark in his honour.
- Fun Fergie Jenkins Fact: The National League Central Division-leading Chicago Cubs’ entire pitching staff has tossed five complete games this season. Forty-five years ago, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and Chatham, Ont., native Fergie Jenkins tossed five complete games in the month of September alone, en route to becoming the first Canadian to win a Cy Young Award.
- Believe it or not on this date 19 years ago, the sweet-swinging, but lead-footed John Olerud hit for the cycle for the New York Mets in a game against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. The ex-Blue Jay had a double and a single in the second and third innings off of Edmonton native Mike Johnson and homered off reliever Rick DeHart in the seventh before walking to the plate with the bases loaded against left-hander Steve Kline in the bottom of the eighth. Olerud promptly smashed a ball to right-centre field that ricocheted off the wall and then off of and away from Expos right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, giving Olerud his first triple in three years, and one of only 13 in his 17-year big league career, to complete the cycle.
- This is one of my favourite baseball stories that I’ve heard over the years: In 1940, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Don Padgett was upset about his lack of playing time despite having batted over .400 for much of the previous season, so he approached manager Billy Southworth. “How come I’m sitting? I’m a .400 hitter.” Padgett said to Southworth. “Because you’re a .399 fielder,” Southworth responded.
- 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: When Cambridge, Ont., native Rob Ducey was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, he became the second inductee with the last name Ducey (joining John Ducey who was enshrined in 1983). The Canadian ball shrine has two other inductees with the same last name. Can you name them? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1984 Topps Ryne Sandberg card, a 1985 Donruss Leaf Orel Hershiser rookie card and a 1985 Donruss Leaf Mike Schmidt card.