My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Happy Birthday to my favourite baseball player of all-time – my dad, Ralph Glew! Mickey Mantle was his hero growing up, but I remember my dad as more of a Tony Gwynn-type batter in his slo-pitch games with the Dorchester Standbys. I recall him as a left-handed hitter with some pop in his bat, but rather than focus on home runs, he preferred to exploit holes in the opposing defence and hit the ball to all fields (Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a spray chart on him). He still plays in a Huff N’ Puff league with his friends these days. Most importantly though my dad is a thoughtful and supportive man who has been a great role model for me. I’m lucky to have him as my dad.
· I think it’s fitting that the Toronto Blue Jays played their first regular season game on my dad’s birthday. A New York Yankees fan since his childhood, my dad now often plans his schedule around Blue Jays games and he watched their first game on TV on that historic snowy April 7th, 42 years ago. Doug Ault would wallop two home runs for the Blue Jays and Vancouver native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dave McKay started at third base and registered the game-winning RBI in the Blue Jays’ 9-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Exhibition Stadium. You can view the full box score here.
· Speaking of Blue Jays history, there must not be anyone left in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse that knows the history of the club. And if there is, where were they when Alen Hanson needed them? Hanson who was acquired from San Francisco Giants in the Kevin Pillar deal on Tuesday, came to the Blue Jays and asked for No. 19. No one seems to have told him it was Jose Bautista’s old number before his decision to wear the number sparked an uproar on social media. So once he learned it was Bautista’s former number, Hanson switched to No. 1. The problem is No. 1 is Tony Fernandez’s old number. Fernandez is the franchise’s all-time hits leader and his number is on the club’s Level of Excellence. For the record, numbers on the Level of Excellence are not retired, so they can be worn, but shouldn’t someone in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse have educated Hanson about the significance of these numbers? Some fans are now upset that Hanson is wearing Fernandez’s number. So what’s next? I’m worried that Hanson will switch to No. 37 (Dave Stieb’s number) for the next series.
· Happy 75th Birthday to former Montreal Expos pitcher and executive Bill Stoneman! After being selected from the Chicago Cubs in 1969 expansion draft, Stoneman proceeded to throw the first two no-hitters in Expos history. In fact, he managed to toss a no-no in just the ninth game in Expos history when he scattered five walks and struck out eight batters in his club’s 7-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium on April 17, 1969. Over three years later, on October 2, 1972, Stoneman hurled another a no-hitter when he led the Expos to 7-0 win over the New York Mets in the first game of a doubleheader at Jarry Park. This marked the first time that a major league no-hitter had been thrown on Canadian soil. In all, Stoneman would register a 3.98 ERA in 186 appearances over parts of five seasons with the Expos. Following his playing career, after a successful tenure as an executive with Royal Trust, he returned to the Expos to serve as vice-president of business operations from 1984 to 1999. He was then hired to be the vice-president and general manager of the Los Angeles Angels and helped construct the team that won the 2002 World Series. Since 2007, he has worked as a senior adviser with the Angels.
· Montreal native Russell Martin is readjusting nicely to being back in Los Angeles. Martin, who began his big league career with the Dodgers in 2006, clubbed his first home run of the season on Friday (the 186th of his major league career) and he’s now 5-for-12 (.417 batting average) and has six runs in five games for the Dodgers, while splitting the catching duties with Austin Barnes.
· Please take a moment to remember Hall of Fame second baseman and the Toronto Blue Jays first batting coach Bobby Doerr who would’ve turned 101 today. He passed away on November 13, 2017 at the age of 99. Born in Los Angeles in 1918, Doerr was a sure-handed, heavy-hitting second baseman for the Boston Red Sox from 1937 to 1951. Suiting up alongside Ted Williams, Doerr recorded six 100-RBI seasons and hit over .300 three times. In 1944, he led the American League in slugging percentage and finished second in batting average. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986. Prior to that, however, he served as a part-time hitting coach with the Blue Jays from 1977 to 1981. This gig was actually his second as a coach in Toronto. He was also a hitting instructor for the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs when Dick Williams managed the club in 1965 and 1966.
· And just because I was curious . . . Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Terry Puhl had 20 hits in 45 at bats against Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, good for a .444 batting average. That got me wondering if that was highest batting average of any player who had at least 25 major league at bats against Seaver. The answer is yes. In second place on the list is Kirby Puckett .423 (11-for-26), while Dave Concepcion .391 (18-for-46) is third.
· This week’s trivia question. Bobby Doerr was the Blue Jays first major league batting coach. Who was the club’s second big league batting coach? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1984 Topps Mike Schmidt All-Star card, a 1985 Leaf Ozzie Smith card, a 1986 Leaf Ozzie Smith card and a 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best Craig Biggio card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Just two Canadian right-handed pitchers have appeared in relief for the New York Yankees since 2000. Can you name one of them?) was one of Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) or Chris Leroux (Montreal, Que.)