Twenty-nine years ago today, Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) became the first – and still only – Canadian inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
The Canadian pitching legend was elected in his third year of eligibility along with fellow right-hander Gaylord Perry and seven-time American League batting champion Rod Carew.
Jenkins grew up in Chatham, Ont., where he excelled in baseball, basketball, and hockey. After graduating from high school in the early ’60s, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but it wasn’t until he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs in 1966 that he was converted into a starting pitcher.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Jenkins recorded 20 wins and was selected to play in the 1967 all-star game. The durable hurler followed that up by leading the National League with 40 starts and a 20-15 record in 1968. Those two seasons were part of a remarkable string of six consecutive 20-win seasons (1967 to 1972) for the Canuck superstar. His 1971 campaign ranks as his most impressive. That season, he led the National League with 24 wins, 30 complete games and 325 innings pitched and became the first Cub – and first Canadian – to win the Cy Young Award.
Dealt to the Texas Rangers following the 1973 season, Jenkins recorded 25 wins, 29 complete games, 245 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA in 1974 and finished second in the American League Cy Young voting.
The Canadian pitching legend retired with 284 career wins and as the only pitcher in history to record more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,192), while allowing fewer than 1,000 walks (997). Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez have since joined that elite group.
Jenkins was officially inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Cooperstown on July 21, 1991. You can listen to his induction speech here.