My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· It’s been 83 years since there’s been a full-time Canadian manager in the major leagues. That was when London, Ont., native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer George Gibson served as the dugout boss for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But that drought may end soon. On Tuesday, Windsor, Ont., native Stubby Clapp was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year for leading the St. Louis Cardinals triple-A Memphis Redbirds to a division title and a franchise record for wins. Clapp is in his 11th professional season as a coach and his third as a manager. The longtime Canadian national team member and coach, who played 23 games for the Cardinals in 2001, should be a candidate for big league managerial vacancies that open up this off-season.
· Coincidentally, it was on this date in 1925 that the aforementioned Gibson was named manager of the Chicago Cubs for the remainder of the season, replacing Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville. Gibson would lead the Cubs to a 12-14 record in their final 26 games that campaign, but did not return in 1926. The Canadian bench boss had previously managed the Pirates from 1920 to 1922 and then later again from 1932 to 1934.
· On Friday, Baseball Reference shared on Twitter that Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto has a .440 on-base percentage (OBP) since turning 30, which ranks sixth all-time. The only players with better OBPs since age 30 are Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Cochrane. Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) is ninth on that list with a .433 OBP.
· Six years ago today, Scarborough, Ont., native George Kottaras became the first Canadian since the 19th century to hit for the cycle in a major league game. Batting seventh and starting at catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, Kottaras went 4-for-5 to lead the Brewers to an 8-2 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Kottaras’s cycle was the first by a Canadian since Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Tip O’Neill (Woodstock, Ont.) and George Wood (Pownal, P.E.I.) achieved this feat in the late 19th century.
· Speaking of hitting for the cycle, it was also 22 years ago today that Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Fernandez accomplished this feat. Hitting eighth and playing shortstop for the New York Yankees, the ex-Jay doubled in the bottom of the ninth to complete the cycle at Yankee Stadium. He finished the contest with four hits, three runs and three RBI, but the Bombers still lost 10-9 in 10 innings to the Oakland A’s.
· When designated hitter Kendrys Morales socked three home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays in their 11-8 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, he became the seventh DH to belt three homers in a game for the club. High Heat Stats indicated on Twitter that the other Blue Jays DHs to go deep three times in a game are Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Frank Thomas, Carlos Delgado, George Bell and Otto Velez.
· Thank you to Christopher Kamka on Twitter for doing the math for me. He tweeted on Thursday that from 1969 to 2004, there was 620 different players that suited up for the Montreal Expos and that right-hander Bartolo Colon is the last active former Expo. The burly 44-year-old has been a serviceable starter for the Minnesota Twins since he landed with them in early July, going 4-2 with a 4.09 ERA in nine starts.
· And speaking of ex-Expos, yes, that is former Expos infielder Andy Stankiewicz who is managing Team USA in the 18U Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Ont. this week. He started his major league career with the Yankees in 1992 and after a two-year stint with the Houston Astros, he signed with the Expos and batted .250 in 140 games with the club in 1996 and 1997. He finished his seven-year big league career with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998.
· 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
· This week’s trivia question: Bartolo Colon is the last active former Montreal Expo. Who was the second-last former Expo to appear in a major league game? The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1963 Topps Minnie Minoso card, a 1969 Topps National League Home Run Leaders card (with Willie McCovey, Richie Allen and Ernie Banks) and a 1992 Upper Deck Ivan Rodriguez card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Catcher Darrin Fletcher hit three home runs in a game for the Blue Jays on August 27, 2000. Two other catchers have homered three times in a game for the Blue Jays. Can you name them?) was Ernie Whitt and John Buck.