My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- If it seems like Russell Martin has hit a lot of clutch, late-inning home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, that’s because he has. Thirteen of the Montreal native’s 19 homers have come in the sixth inning or later.
- Thirty-two years ago today, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines stole four bases for the Montreal Expos in their 7-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. With these four steals, Raines became the first major league player to swipe 70 or more bases in four consecutive seasons. The speedy Expo would also steal 70 bases in 1985 and 1986 to make it six consecutive seasons of 70 or more steals.
- Forty-six years ago today, Chatham, Ont., native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins recorded his 20th victory of the 1970 season when he struck out seven and hurled a complete game to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 3-2 win over the Expos in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field. This marked his fourth of six consecutive 20-win seasons.
- Speaking of Chicago Cubs legends, Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg turns 57 today. Sandberg belted 29 of his 282 career home runs against the Expos. This was his fourth-most against any major league team. Like many, however, Sandberg struggled at Montreal’s pitcher-friendly Olympic Stadium. In 115 contests at the Big O, Sandberg hit .242 with 11 homers.
- Brian “Chip” Martin, who penned the superb Baseball’s Creation Myth: Adam Ford, Abner Graves and the Cooperstown Story, announced on Thursday that his biography about Hall of Famer Pud Galvin is now available for sale. This is the first biography ever written about this fascinating 365-game winner. You can purchase the book here.
- Martin will be one of the many excellent presenters at the first annual Canadian Baseball History Conference that will take place in St. Marys, Ont. on November 12 and 13. This event is being organized by SABR member and longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer Andrew North. Among the highlights of the event will be a panel discussion about North America’s first recorded baseball game played in Beachville, Ont., on June 4, 1838. There will also be presentations about Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Arthur “Foxy” Irwin, Tip O’Neill and Harry Simmons (whose remarkable personal collection of artifacts is housed at the museum). Attendees will also be given a tour of the Canadian ball shrine. The cost to attend is $50. For more information, follow this link.
- After rehabbing a shoulder injury and making 20 minor league appearances, former Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow was called up by the San Diego Padres in mid-August and is now pitching out of the club’s bullpen. Morrow, who hadn’t thrown a big league pitch since May 2, 2015, has posted a 2.31 ERA in 13 appearances, but his ERA is a little deceiving given that he’s allowed 16 hits in just 11-2/3 innings. His future appears to be as a reliever.
- I was saddened to hear about the passing of 2011 Jack Graney Award winner W.P. Kinsella at his home in Hope, B.C. on Friday at the age of 81. His classic book Shoeless Joe made me want to be a baseball writer and Field of Dreams, the movie inspired by Shoeless Joe, brought me even closer to my dad. Thank you and rest in peace, Mr. Kinsella. For a complete obituary, follow this link.
- There will definitely be players and coaches with Montreal Expos links in the American League postseason. Barring an epic collapse, the Cleveland Indians will win the American League Central division, with former Expos Terry Francona as their manager and Brad Mills as their bench coach. While the soon-to-be American League West champion Texas Rangers employ ex-Montreal shortstop Spike Owen as their third base coach, as well as Expos’ 2004 third-round pick Ian Desmond in left field. The Rangers roster also includes Delino DeShields Jr., the son of the former Expos second baseman.
- This week’s trivia question: The aforementioned Tim Raines was one of the greatest and most consistent base stealers in major league history, but he does not hold the Montreal Expos’ team record for most stolen bases in a season. What player does? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1984 Donruss Ryne Sandberg card and a 1984 O-Pee-Chee Nolan Ryan card.