My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· It’s always special when baseball legend Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) is in St. Marys, Ont., for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction festivities, but this year was extra special because Jenkins brought his 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series ring. The durable right-hander, who won 284 games during his 19-year big league career that extended from 1965 to 1983, never had the opportunity to pitch in the postseason. He was awarded an honorary ring by the Cubs earlier this year.
· I’ve been attending the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction activities for 21 years and this is the first year that there were three Cy Young Award winners in attendance: Jenkins (1971 National League Cy Young Award), Pat Hentgen (1996 American League Cy Young Award) and Roy Halladay (2003 American League Cy Young Award, 2010 National League Cy Young Award).
· With Halladay and Vladimir Guerrero headlining this year’s induction class, this was the most star-studded induction ever held in St. Marys. On top of the aforementioned Jenkins and Hentgen, also present at the festivities were Tony Fernandez, Tom Henke, Ernie Whitt, Ron Taylor, Duane Ward and Lloyd Moseby. By my count, these players combined for 32 All-Star Game selections, nine Silver Slugger Awards, four Cy Young Awards and eight World Series rings during their big league careers.
· And this World Series ring tally doesn’t include those owned by legendary executives Pat Gillick (3) and Paul Beeston (2), longtime Blue Jays media relations director Howard Starkman (2) and the two that Ron Taylor earned as the Blue Jays doctor. All of these past inductees were also in attendance on Saturday.
· Toronto Star baseball columnist Richard Griffin tweeted on Saturday that if Halladay is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame that the former ace wants to go in as a Blue Jay. Which begs the question, why is Halladay not yet on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre?
· When the writers’ ballots are counted for the National Baseball Hall of Fame voting next January, it seems likely that Vladimir Guerrero will be elected. He was named on 71.7 per cent of ballots (75 per cent is required for election) this year, his first year of eligibility, to fall just 15 votes shy of induction. When he’s elected, he’ll become the fourth Montreal Expos player to be inducted by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame prior to getting a plaque in Cooperstown. Gary Carter (2001 CBHOF, 2003 Cooperstown), Andre Dawson (2004 CBHOF, 2010 Cooperstown) and Tim Raines (2013 CBHOF, 2017 Cooperstown) were the first three.
· Congratulations to former big league catcher Andy Stewart (Oshawa, Ont.) who has been elected to the Brockville Sports Hall of Fame. Stewart, who was one of the celebrities in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s golf tournament on Friday, was 2-for-8 in five games for the Kansas City Royals in 1997. A former member of the Brockville Bunnies, a well-known elite 19U baseball club, Stewart hit .279 with 69 home runs in parts of 10 minor league seasons in the Royals and Philadelphia Phillies organizations. He also batted .416 for Canada’s baseball team at the 2004 Olympics.
· Happy 45th Birthday to Blue Jays legend and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Carlos Delgado! The Puerto Rican slugger, who gets my vote for the greatest Blue Jays hitter, had eight consecutive, 30-home run campaigns from 1997 to 2004, was selected to two all-star games (2000, 2003), won three Silver Slugger Awards (1999, 2000, 2003), a Hank Aaron Award (2000) and was named The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year (2000) while with the Blue Jays. On September 25, 2003, he also became the first Blue Jay – and 15th player in major league history – to belt four home runs in a game. In all, in parts of 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, Delgado rewrote much of the club’s record book and is the team’s all-time leader in several statistical categories, including home runs (336), RBI (1,058), doubles (343), runs (889), total bases (2,786), slugging percentage (.556), extra-base hits (690) and walks (827). For his efforts, he was added to the Blue Jays Level of Excellence in 2013.
· It was great to meet up with Steve Charles at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction festivities on Saturday. Charles was a great high school friend and the only player I ever played with in Dorchester, Ont., that was signed to a professional contract. He was an outfielder that played three seasons in the Blue Jays organization from 1994 to 1996. What I didn’t know was that Charles roomed with Halladay when they played in the Gulf Coast League. Charles was going to surprise his ex-roomie with a visit on Saturday.
· This week’s trivia question: Earlier I named three former Montreal Expos players who are in both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There are also three inductees in both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and National Baseball Hall of Fame that played for the International League’s Montreal Royals. Can you name them? The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1977 Topps Dennis Eckersley card and a 1978 Topps Pete Rose.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (There have been two sets of fathers and sons that have played for the Toronto Blue Jays (at different times, not together) over the years. Who are they?) was John Mayberry and John Mayberry Jr. and Steve Grilli and Jason Grilli.