My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· It seems like a good omen that the Pittsburgh Pirates will be interviewing Windsor, Ont., native Stubby Clapp for their manager’s job this week (according to Jon Heyman of The MLB Network). After all, the last Canuck to be a full-time big league manager was Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee George Gibson (London, Ont.) with the Pirates back in 1934. Clapp, who served as the first base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals this season, has a track record of winning. The 46-year-old Canadian was a key contributor to the Junior National Team that won gold at the World Youth Baseball Championships in Brandon, Man., in 1991. He was a coach on both of Canada’s Senior National Teams that captured gold at the Pan Am Games (2011, 2015) and he managed the triple-A Memphis Redbirds to back-to-back Pacific Coast League championships prior to joining the Cardinals this season.
· His New York Yankees may have been eliminated by the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series last night, but James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) has earned his place in New York Yankees lore. That’s what happens when you outduel Justin Verlander in a win-or-go-home postseason game at Yankee Stadium. That was what Paxton did in Game 5 on Friday night for the Bronx Bombers when he struck out a Canadian post-season record nine batters in six innings and allowed just one run in the Yankees’ 4-1 win. According to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Paxton also established Canadian records for most strikeouts in a post-season (16) and most career post-season strikeouts (20).
· With the Atlanta Braves eliminated in the National League Division Series by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this month, Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) was able to part with one of the gloves he used during his outstanding rookie season. He shipped this glove to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., where it will be added to their collection. In 29 starts for the Braves this season, Soroka posted a 13-4 record and a 2.68 ERA while striking out 142 batters in 175 innings. For his efforts, he has been named to Baseball America’s 2019 All-Rookie Team and is a finalist for the Players Choice National League Most Outstanding Rookie Award.
· A proposal has been made to the Trail, B.C. city council to have 2019 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jason Bay’s name added to a local field. According to Jim Bailey of the B.C. Local News website, the proposal was brought forward by local teacher and baseball fan, Lou DeRosa. DeRosa would like to see
the field be called “Jason Bay Field” at Butler Park. Bay was born in Trail and played Little League there, including on a team coached by fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Andy Bilesky that competed in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in 1990. The right-handed slugger went on to be a three-time major league all-star and belt 222 home runs in an 11-year major league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners. The Trail city council said they will respond to DeRosa’s proposal at their next council meeting on October 28.
· Let’s continue the campaign to get Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, BC) elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This is the Canadian slugger’s 10th and final year on the writers’ ballot. Last season, his name was checked on 54.6% of baseball writers’ ballots. He requires 75% support to be elected. One of the knocks against Walker has been that he benefited from playing his home games at Coors Field while he was with the Colorado Rockies. Well, Hot Stove Stats compared Walker’s road on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with other Hall of Famers and produced the list below. It turns out that Walker’s road OPS is better than that of first ballot Hall of Famers like Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Roberto Clemente.
· To Toronto Blue Jays fans, it’s simply known as “The Catch.” It was 27 years ago today that Blue Jays centre fielder Devon White tracked down what looked to be a surefire extra-base hit by Atlanta Braves slugger Dave Justice in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series at SkyDome. The game was tied 0-0 and the Braves had Deion Sanders on second and Terry Pendleton on first with nobody out when Justice clubbed a Juan Guzman pitch to deep centre field. On top of making a leaping catch and crashing into the centre field wall, White also had the wherewithal to turn and throw the ball back to Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alomar which started what should have been a triple play. Pendleton had passed Sanders on the base paths, so he was automatically out. Sanders ended up caught in a rundown between second and third and Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber eventually dove and tagged Sanders on the heel, but second base umpire Bob Davidson missed the call and the Blue Jays had to settle for a double play.
· Happy 79th Birthday to former major league umpire and St. Catharines, Ont., native Paul Runge. He served as a National League umpire for 25 seasons from 1973 to 1997 and worked nine National League Championship Series, four World Series and three All-Star Games. He was also the home plate umpire for the no-hitter that Montreal Expos right-hander Charlie Lea threw at Olympic Stadium on May 10, 1981. He is the middle part of a three-generation umpire family. His dad, Ed, was an American League umpire from 1954 to 1970, while his son, Brian, was a major league umpire from 1999 to 2012.
· Nineteen years ago today, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Carlos Delgado was named the winner of the American League’s Hank Aaron Award, as the league’s top hitter. In 162 games in the 2000 season, Delgado batted .344 and had 41 home runs and 137 RBIs for the Blue Jays. He also had a league leading 57 doubles and set career-bests with a .470 on-base percentage, a 664 slugging percentage and a 1.134 OPS. He was the first Blue Jay to win the Hank Aaron award. Jose Bautista later won the award in 2010 and 2011 and Josh Donaldson captured the honour as a Blue Jay in 2015.
· Who holds the Toronto Blue Jays record for most stolen bases in a season? The answer is Dave Collins who swiped 60 bases for the Blue Jays in 1984. The speedy outfielder turns 67 today. He spent two seasons with the Blue Jays before he was dealt to the Oakland A’s with Alfredo Griffin for closer Bill Caudill on December 8, 1984.
· If you’re looking for a fun place to watch Game 3 of the World Series, you should come out to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., on October 25 where they will be showing the game on a big screen in their new R. Howard Webster Visitors Lounge. Doors will open at 7 p.m. local time, with the game slated to begin at 8 p.m. Food, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, will be available for purchase during the game and a silent auction will take place. It is free to attend, but you must pre-register here. You can also tour the museum for regular admission prices.
· Also, if you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 9th and 10th on your calendar. Longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and co-founder of the Centre for Canadian Baseball Research Andrew North has announced that the fourth annual Canadian Baseball History Conference will take place in London, Ont., on those dates. This year’s event, which will again be organized by Andrew, will include a bus trip and tour to the newly renovated Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. For more information and for a complete list of the fascinating baseball 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 question: As noted earlier, Dave Collins holds the Blue Jays record for most stolen bases in a single-season. But who owns Blue Jays’ record for most career stolen bases? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1979 Topps Steve Carlton card, a 1983 Fleer Rod Carew card and a 1985 Fleer Wade Boggs card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Bob Bailey had the first hit in Montreal Expos history, who had the first in Toronto Blue Jays history? ) was Doug Ault with his home run in the first inning in the first game on April 7, 1977.