My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Congratulations to Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) who clubbed his 248th career home run last night to move past Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) into third place for most home runs by a Canadian. It was a solo shot in the first inning off Miami Marlins left-hander Adam Conley. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman now trails only Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker (383 home runs) and Fredericton, N.B., native Matt Stairs (265).
· Today, Tim Raines will become the third player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame to be pictured in a Montreal Expos cap on their plaque (joining Gary Carter and Andre Dawson). But will he be the last? It’s hard to say. Slugger Vladimir Guerrero had better cumulative statistics in his eight seasons with the Expos (1996 to 2003), but Guerrero won an MVP Award and was an all-star and Silver Slugger Award winner in four of his six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. He also played in the postseason five times with the Angels. The Hall of Fame, who ultimately choose the cap for the player, has a tough call on this.
· Fun Fergie Jenkins Fact: On Monday, Ryan Spaeder noted on Twitter that in four starts between July 10 and July 24, 1971, the Chatham, Ont., native pitched four consecutive complete games without walking a single batter in any of those starts. This would never happen today.
· It’s safe to say that legendary catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Raines today, loved to hit in Canadian ballparks. In 69 combined games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Rodriguez was 90-for-273, which computes to a .330 batting average. He also added nine home runs, 25 doubles and 50 RBI in Canadian parks.
· Joining Rodriguez and Raines as a 2017 inductee is longtime Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell. He never played at the Rogers Centre during his 15-year career, but in 61 games at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, he registered 67 hits – including 10 home runs and 15 doubles – and had a .283/.391/.473 slash line.
· One of the coolest things I learned this week: according to various Montreal Expos-related Twitter feeds, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and former Expos play-by-play man Dave Van Horne carries a copy of the Expos’ 1994 roster in his wallet.
· Ladner, B.C., native James Paxton has to be the frontrunner for the American League Pitcher of the Month. In five July starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA and has allowed just 19 hits in 33-1/3 innings while striking out 38. For the season, he now owns a 10-3 record with a 2.84 ERA and has 117 strikeouts in 101-1/3 innings in 17 starts.
· Speaking of Canadian left-handers, Happy 31st Birthday to Guelph, Ont., native Scott Diamond! The Canadian southpaw, who has pitched in 59 big league games over parts of four seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, is currently pitching for the Korean Baseball Organization’s SK Wyverns. One of his teammates on that squad is London, Ont., native Jamie Romak, who has belted 16 home runs for the Korean club this season.
· If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 18th and 19th on your calendar. Crackerjack Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and longtime SABR member Andrew North has announced that the second annual Canadian Baseball History Symposium will take place at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club in St. Marys, Ont., on those dates. This year’s event, which will again be organized by North, will include presentations about 19th-century player Bob Addy and manager William Watkins, baseball and Canadian soldiers in World War I and the Chatham Coloured All-Stars. There will also be a pictorial history quiz based on images and a panel discussion of what defines being Canadian, and the consequences of that definition for baseball research. The registration fee is $60. To register, please email Andrew North at email@example.com.
· Montreal native Jesen Therrien was recalled by Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. After being scouted by Canadian Alex Agostino, the 6-foot-2 right-hander was selected in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Phillies. Now in his sixth season in the Phillies organization, the 24-year-old hurler has been dominant in double-A and triple-A in 2017, posting a combined 1.41 ERA in 57-1/3 innings while registering 65 strikeouts.
· It was on this day 39 years ago that the Montreal Expos belted a team-record eight home runs in their 19-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium. Third baseman Larry Parrish led the way with three home runs in three consecutive innings (3rd inning, 4th, and 5th), while Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson went deep twice. Also homering for the Expos were Dave Cash, Tony Perez and Chris Speier.
· It was also 25 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays traded Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and Cambridge, Ont., native Rob Ducey and catcher Greg Myers to the California Angels for reliever Mark Eichhorn. Ducey would hit .237 in 31 games with the Angels before signing with the Texas Rangers after the season. In his second tenure with the Blue Jays, Eichhorn settled back into a middle relief role, posting a 4.35 ERA in 23 contests down the stretch in their World Series-winning 1992 campaign. The sidearmer then returned to post a 2.72 ERA in 54 games in 1993 to collect his second World Series ring.
· This week’s trivia question: As noted earlier, Tim Raines will become the third player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame to be pictured in a Montreal Expos cap on their plaque. The other two are Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. There are, however, three other players in the Hall that played for the Expos that are not pictured in an Expos cap on their plaque. Can you name them? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1981 Topps Paul Molitor card, a 1984 O-Pee-Chee Gary Carter All-Star card and a 1989 O-Pee-Chee Cal Ripken Jr. card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Left-hander James Paxton has nine wins for the Seattle Mariners this season. What two pitchers are tied for the record for most wins in a season by a Canadian left-hander?) was Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.) and John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.).