My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Up until my mid-teens, he channeled his inner Mickey Mantle to hit me countless fly balls down Thames Crescent in Dorchester, Ont. And I chased them pretending to be Jesse Barfield or Dale Murphy. He’s a kind, quiet, patient, gentle and responsible man who has literally given me the shoes off his feet on more than one occasion. He’s my handyman, my accountant, my Toronto Blue Jays co-analyst and most importantly, a tremendously supportive dad. I’m blessed to have Ralph Glew as my father and I’m grateful that I was able to spend some time with him at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies yesterday and to be able to watch the Blue Jays game with him this afternoon.
· It’s without question the best Father’s Day moment in Blue Jays history. Nine years ago, John McDonald returned to the Blue Jays with a heavy heart five days after delivering the eulogy at his father Jack’s funeral. As one of his final requests, McDonald’s father asked his son to point up to him after he touched home plate following his next home run. The Blue Jays’ smooth-fielding shortstop, who averaged less than two home runs a season, promised he would, but he cautioned his father that it could take a long time. Magically, in his first bat after his father’s death, McDonald belted a pitch from San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt over the left-field wall at Rogers Centre on Father’s Day. You can listen to McDonald recount the story of the home run in the clip below.
· Keeping with the Father’s Day theme, highly respected big league coach and 2019 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) delivered a humorous and heartfelt induction speech in St. Marys, Ont., on Saturday. In it, he acknowledged his wife, Michelle and two daughters, Chrissy and Jacquie, who were in attendance. “In this game we spend a lot of time away from our families, whether you’re in the minor leagues, big leagues, on the road, we’re all over the place,” he said. “One of the things that’s going to happen this weekend, for the first time in my entire life, because I’m here today I’m going to be able to spend Father’s Day with my two girls,” Thomson said.
· Former Toronto Blue Jays general manager and 2019 inductee Gord Ash (Toronto, Ont.) also had his wife Susan and children Peter Aaron (named after Hank Aaron) and Emily Babe (named after Babe Ruth) in attendance and thanked them for their support during their career. “My son’s first word, because he spent so much time at the ballpark, was not momma or dada, it was beer . . . True story.” You can read my article about Ash and his induction here.
· Three-time big league all-star and 2019 inductee Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) also acknowledged his dad’s influence in his speech. Bay shared that one of the most important lessons his father taught him came when he was a Little Leaguer and he lost his temper and violently tossed his helmet after he struck out. His dad took him aside and said to him, “When you do well, it looks good on you. When you do bad (like throw a helmet), it looks bad on me.” “From that day on, I ran out every ground ball as hard as I could until I stopped playing in the big leagues,” said Bay. You can read my extensive feature on Bay here.
· Longtime Cubs pitcher and 2019 inductee Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) also acknowledged his dad, giving him credit for instilling a love of baseball in him. “He sat me on his lap and taught me all about the game of baseball,” Dempster recounted. “And then I started playing slo-pitch with my parents. They would just give me a glove and stick me in the outfield, and I just fell in love with the game of baseball.”
· 2014 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Murray Cook (Sackville, N.B.) was also at the ceremony in St. Marys on Saturday. It was 33 years ago today that Cook, while serving as the Montreal Expos general manager, orchestrated one of the greatest trades in Expos history when he acquired right-hander Dennis Martinez from the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later (which turned out to be Rene Gonzales). At the time, Martinez had been struggling with alcoholism and was believed to be in the twilight of his career. But El Presidente proved his naysayers wrong – and Cook to be right – when he proceeded to win 100 games, post a 3.06 ERA and pitch a perfect game for the Expos during his next eight seasons with the club. For his efforts, Martinez was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.
· Congratulations to longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame board members Tony Little and Bob Stephens who were named co-winners of the Randall Echlin Lifetime Volunteer Award, which is given out each year by the Hall. Both Tony and Bob are very highly respected board members and have given selflessly to the Hall over the years and have played key roles in helping the Hall achieve its fundraising goals.
· This week’s trivia question: Name the two Canadian father/son combinations that have played in the major leagues. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a1979 Topps Nolan Ryan card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (What Canadian catcher has played the most games (among Canadian catchers) in the majors?) was Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) who has played 1,545 major league contests behind the plate.