My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Highly respected baseball writer Jon Heyman tweeted on Friday that the Texas Rangers will conduct an in-person interview with Windsor, Ont., native Stubby Clapp about their vacant managerial position. Clapp has led the St. Louis Cardinals’ triple-A Memphis Redbirds to back-to-back Pacific Coast League championships. There has not been a full-time Canadian big league manager since Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer George Gibson (London, Ont.) was the bench boss of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934.
· Many Canadian baseball fans were disappointed that Clapp was not considered more seriously for the Toronto Blue Jays’ managerial post, which will be filled by former Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Charlie Montoyo. On Thursday, the Blue Jays announced that they had hired Montoyo and signed him to a three-year contract with a club option for 2022. The highly regarded Florida, Puerto Rico native seems to meet many of the qualifications (e.g. good communicator, speaks Spanish, experience in a big league dugout, etc.) that the Blue Jays were looking for. Prior to getting into coaching, the now 53-year-old Montoyo enjoyed a 10-year professional playing career in the Milwaukee Brewers, Montreal Expos and Philadelphia Phillies organizations. He played his only four major league games with the Expos in 1993 and went 2-for-5 – good for a .400 batting average. Expos Blog shared footage of Montoyo’s second major league at bat on Twitter on Saturday.
· Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Doug Melvin (Chatham, Ont.) was one of three finalists for the New York Mets’ general manager’s position, but reports indicate that former agent Brodie Van Wagenen will get the job. The 66-year-old Melvin has been serving as a senior advisor with the Milwaukee Brewers since stepping down from his role as the club’s GM following the 2015 season. After a minor league pitching career, Melvin worked in a number of administrative roles, including scouting director with the New York Yankees (1985) and as assistant GM and director of player personnel from 1988 to 1993 with the Baltimore Orioles. He landed his first general manager’s job with the Texas Rangers and held that post for eight seasons (1994 to 2001). Following a short stint in minor league operations with the Boston Red Sox, Melvin was named executive vice president and general manager of the Brewers on September 26, 2002. Melvin was tabbed Baseball America Executive of the Year in 2011 after the Brewers won a franchise-record 96 games and the National League Central Division title.
· It was 47 years ago this past Friday that Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) became the first Canadian to win the National League Cy Young Award. The 6-foot-5 right-hander recorded 24 wins, posted a 2.77 ERA and pitched 325 innings for the Chicago Cubs that season. Most jaw-dropping, however, was that he tossed 30 complete games. To put that in context, all National League pitchers combined to toss just 17 complete games in 2018.
· I have days when I wonder why I bother with this Cooperstowners in Canada blog. I enjoy putting this information together, but it’s a lot of work for a single freelance writer with expenses to pay. I don’t make a cent from this blog. But on Friday, I was reminded why I do this. I received a note from Phil Marchildon’s daughter, Carol Voyce thanking me for remembering her father’s 105th birthday. And that (her note) reminded me why I keep this blog going, I want people to remember Canadians who have made significant contributions to baseball.
· For some reason I was on the Baseball Reference site looking at League Championship Series statistics this week and I came across the page with the all-time batting leaders. The top career batting average in League Championship Series play (minimum 23 plate appearances) belongs to Lloyd McClendon who hit .625 in 23 plate appearances. Second on that list is Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) who batted .545 in 25 career League Championship plate appearances. Puhl is also second to McClendon in career on-base percentage in LCS play with a .600 OBP.
· Prior to the World Series, I posted some Toronto Blue Jays links to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox on Facebook. I noted that ex-Jays Chris Woodward (third base coach) and Turner Ward (batting coach) are on the Dodgers coaching staff, while the Red Sox roster features David Price and Steve Pearce, both of whom have played for the Blue Jays in more recent years. Astute reader Andrew Carlton then reminded me that Red Sox batting coach Tim Hyers once played in the Blue Jays organization. Hyers was drafted by the Blue Jays in the second round in 1990 and began his career with the short-season Rookie ball Medicine Hat Blue Jays in 1990 (See baseball card above). In all, Hyers played four seasons in the organization making it as high as double-A, before he was selected by San Diego Padres in the 1993 Rule 5 draft.
· And the award for best Halloween costume by a Canadian professional baseball player and his family goes to Regina, Sask., native Dustin Molleken whose family dressed up as members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League’s Rockford Peaches.
· If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 3rd and 4th (this coming weekend!) on your calendar. That is when the third annual Canadian Baseball History Conference, organized by crackerjack Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and longtime SABR member Andrew North, will take place in London, Ont. This year’s event, which will again be organized by Andrew, with plenty of help from his wife, Elena, will include a tour of Labatt Park, the oldest continuously used baseball grounds in the world, as well as presentations about the Chatham Coloured All-Stars, the formation of the Toronto Blue Jays, Baseball in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War, American Association triple-crown winner and Woodstock, Ont., native Tip O’Neill and the Montreal Royals. For more information and for a complete list of the presentations, you can click on this link. The registration fee is $70. To register, please email Andrew North at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· This week’s trivia: Fergie Jenkins tossed 267 complete games during his major league career. Who has the second most career complete games by a Canadian pitcher in the big leagues? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1985 O-Pee-Chee Montreal Expos team set.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (What pitcher led the Blue Jays in wins in their inaugural season?) was Dave Lemanczyk with 13.