My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· My American friends would say that there was something so Canadian about Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker asking his followers on Twitter on Thursday if it was OK to re-tweet some impressive statistics about him that were unearthed by a Twitter account called @HotStoveStats. Walker didn’t want to come off as vain or “digging” himself. His fans, of course, told him to re-tweet away and the string of stats Walker shared reinforced that he is, indeed, worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. Probably the most remarkable stat was the following: “There have been 19,180 players to play Major League Baseball. Just one of them has 350 HR, 200 SB, .300 BA, and .400 OBP in their career. His name is Larry Walker.”
· Sadly, out of the seven baseball writers’ Hall of Fame ballots that have been made public, Walker has only two votes. Among the candidates named on all seven ballots are ex-Jays Roger Clemens and Omar Vizquel, as well as former Montreal Expos great and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero. Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs on Twitter) maintains a spreadsheet of the baseball writers’ Hall of Fame ballots that have been made public here.
· On Tuesday, legendary Cincinnati Reds second baseman and National Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Joe Morgan sent a letter to voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America encouraging them not to vote for steroid users. “We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame,” wrote Morgan. “They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here.” Morgan shared that some Hall of Famers would stop attending the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies if known steroid users were elected. This got me wondering about how Chatham, Ont., native Fergie Jenkins felt about steroid users being in the Hall. And judging by a May 2017 interview he did with FanSided, Jenkins, the only Canadian with a plaque in Cooperstown, agrees with Morgan. “If you need chemicals to make you better, I think everyone notices that. Steroids have been a black mark on baseball,” said Jenkins.
· Mark this Thursday, November 30, on your calendar. That’s when the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2017 Jack Graney Award winner. The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this award annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work. Last year’s winner was longtime Globe and Mail baseball reporter Larry Millson. Graney batted leadoff and played outfield for the Cleveland Indians between 1908 and 1922 but later became the first player to make the jump to the broadcast booth, performing play-by-play duties for the Indians from 1932 to 1953.
· Thirty-eight years ago today, Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Alfredo Griffin was named co-American League Rookie of the Year along with Minnesota Twins second baseman John Castino. It was the first major year-end award that a Blue Jays player would garner. In his rookie 1979 campaign, Griffin batted .287 and registered 179 hits – including 10 triples – in 153 games. He also stole 21 bases that season.
· Speaking of major year-end awards, it was 13 years ago today that Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero was named the American League MVP in his first season with the Los Angeles Angels. After starring for the Montreal Expos in the previous eight seasons, Guerrero batted .337 and socked 39 home runs and knocked in 126 runs for the Angels in 2004 to lead them to their first American League West division title since 1986.
· Let this be a cautionary tale for Blue Jays fans clamoring for the club`s front office to make a splash in the free agent market this off-season. It was 20 years ago today that the Blue Jays signed closer Randy Myers to a three-year, $18-million contract. After posting a 4.46 ERA in 41 games in four months with the Blue Jays, the club somehow off-loaded Myers to the San Diego Padres for the final two months of the season. After registering a 6.28 ERA in 21 appearances for the Padres, Myers retired after the 1998 season.
· I can’t let a week go by without sharing another remarkable Joey Votto stat. This one courtesy of @RedsBaseball on Twitter: “In 2017 Joey Votto joined Ted Williams & Babe Ruth as the only hitters to ever have a season with 175+ hits, 36+ home runs, 134+ walks, & less than 83 strikeouts. No Silver Slugger or MVP though.”
· If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for the baseball fan in your family, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is holding its annual Holiday Silent Auction. The auction is chock full of baseball autographs and memorabilia. You can check out the auction items here.
· This week’s trivia question: The Blue Jays have had three players with the last name Garcia play second base for them. Can you name two of them? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1978 Topps Robin Yount card, a 1979 Topps Carlton Fisk card and a 1984 Topps Goose Gossage card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Outside of Votto and Walker, there are two other Canadians to finish in the top 10 in National League MVP voting in a season. Who are they?) was Fergie Jenkins (seventh place) in 1971 and Eric Gagne (sixth place) in 2003.