My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- Congratulations to Vancouver, B.C., native and ex-Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Scott Richmond for helping the EDA Rhinos capture the Taiwan Series championship yesterday. The 37-year-old right-hander won nine games and hurled 152-2/3 innings for the Chinese Professional Baseball League club and was named the league’s top defensive pitcher. His defensive heroics this season included this unbelievable catch on August 13. Richmond began his professional career with the independent Northern League’s Edmonton Cracker-Cats in 2005 and eventually pitched parts of four big league seasons with the Blue Jays (2008-09, 2011-12).
- SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported on Tuesday that Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and Montreal Expos legend Tim Wallach will be interviewed for the Colorado Rockies’ managerial opening. Wallach, who holds Expos records for games played, hits and doubles, most recently served as the Miami Marlins bench coach. Wallach has been a coach or minor league manager for close to two decades and has been interviewed for several major league managerial positions in recent years.
- It’s hard to believe that Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto has never won a Silver Slugger Award, but baseball statistician and Canadian Baseball Network scribe Neil Munro believes this could be the year for the Canuck first baseman. In this CBN article, Munro points out that Votto topped National League first basemen in batting average (.326), on-base percentage (.434), on-base plus slugging percentage (.985) and hits (181). With that said, the Silver Slugger Awards are voted on by coaches and managers, so while Votto should win, his numbers won’t make him an automatic winner.
- The Blue Jays announced on Monday that Eric Owens will not be returning as the club’s assistant hitting coach. Given the Blue Jays’ offensive decline this season despite employing many of the same hitters as 2015, the move wasn’t a surprise. In fact, given the team’s offensive struggles, I wasn’t sure that hitting coach Brook Jacoby would be retained. Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins cited an overlap in skill set between Owens and Jacoby as the reason Owens was let go. The Blue Jays will replace Owens, likely with someone who has new ideas about generating offence.
- Speaking of hitting coaches, Ty Van Burkleo, who has performed admirably in this capacity for the American League champion Cleveland Indians this season, played two minor league seasons in Canada. Signed by the Milwaukee Brewers as an amateur free agent in 1981, Van Burkleo eventually spent parts of nine seasons in the California Angels organization, one of those with the triple-A Edmonton Trappers in 1992 and another with the triple-A Vancouver Canadians in 1993. He enjoyed one of his finest minor league campaigns with the Trappers in 1992 when he batted .273 with 19 home runs and 88 RBI in 135 contests.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted out this morning that if the Cleveland Indians win the World Series, former Montreal Expo Terry Francona would become the 11th manager to win three or more World Series titles. Olney also notes that nine of the other 10 managers to have won at least three championships have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The only manager that hasn’t been inducted is Bruce Bochy, who’s still active and managing the San Francisco Giants.
- Forty-one years ago today, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and Montreal Expos great Gary Carter finished second to San Francisco Giants right-hander John Montefusco in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Carter, who played 92 games in right field and 66 at catcher that season, batted .270 and walloped 17 home runs in 144 contests for the Expos. However, it’s hard to argue with Montefusco winning the award. The Giants right-hander posted a 15-9 record and a 2.88 ERA and pitched 243-2/3 innings in 35 games.
- Happy 68th Birthday to former New York Yankees and Texas Rangers outfielder Mickey Rivers. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound leadoff hitter was as quirky and unintentionally quotable as he was speedy. Rivers and Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson were known for razzing each other in the clubhouse. One day Jackson boasted to a reporter that his IQ was 160. Rivers overheard the remark and quipped, “Out of what? 1,000?”
- The first annual Canadian Baseball History Conference 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.
- This week’s trivia question: As mentioned earlier, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Gary Carter finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1975. Can you name the only Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1977 Topps Brooks Robinson card.