But What Do I Know? . . . Larry Walker, Fergie Jenkins, Joey Votto, Rob Ducey

WalkerRockies

My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

  • In case you missed it, the Colorado Rockies announced on Friday that they will retire Canadian slugger Larry Walker’s No. 33 in a ceremony on April 19 when the Rockies host the St. Louis Cardinals. The Maple Ridge, B.C., native suited up for parts of 10 seasons with the Rockies from 1995 to 2004 and batted .334 with 258 home runs, 848 RBIs and 126 stolen bases. Walker ranks first in Rockies history in batting average, on-base percentage (.426) and slugging percentage (.618). In 1997, Walker became the only player in Rockies history – and the first Canadian – to win the National League MVP Award. That season he topped the majors with a .720 slugging percentage, a 1.172 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) and 409 total bases. And while I’m happy that Walker will be receiving this honour, part of me wants to yell out, “What took you so long?” For the record, the only other player to wear No. 33 for the Rockies after Walker was fellow B.C. native Justin Morneau. Morneau asked Walker for permission to wear the number before the 2014 season and then he promptly won the National League batting title.

 

  • Walker will find out on Tuesday if the baseball writers have elected him to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his 10th and final year on the ballot. As of this morning, Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame vote tracker has Walker’s name checked on 85.3 per cent of ballots made public by writers. This number would put Walker over the 75% required to be elected. However, Thibodaux’s tracker only accounts for 41.3% of the total eligible writers ballots. Many writers simply choose not to make their ballot public. This is concerning because Walker was trending at close to 70 per cent last year on the public writer ballots, but ended up with just 54.6% support. So this year’s vote is going to be very close. My fingers are crossed that Walker will become the second Canadian elected, joining Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) who was honoured in 1991.

 

  • Jenkins, for the record, would like some Canadian company in Cooperstown. In an interview with Chicago Sun Times writer Madeline Kenney that was published yesterday, Jenkins told Kenney that he would like to see Walker get elected. Jenkins also responded to the Coors Field argument against Walker. “The biggest thing is people think with the light air, the ball travels a little better. But he hit a lot of home runs, he was a consistent .300 hitter. He won a couple of batting titles. He was in the MVP voting, he was an athlete who went out there and played every single day,” said Jenkins. “He was a great outfielder. I just think wherever you play, you put the numbers up, you deserve what happens in your career.”

 

  • Canadian Baseball Network editor-in-chief Bob Elliott tweeted out on Monday that former Toronto Blue Jay and Montreal Expo and 2013 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rob Ducey (Cambridge, Ont.) has been hired by the Fubon Guardians of the Chinese Professional Baseball League to be their hitting coach in 2020. In recent years, Ducey had worked as a coach in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Prior to that he had been a scout with the Blue Jays.

 

  • Here’s something I didn’t know about Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.): He can dunk! That’s what he told Toronto Raptors reporter Blake Murphy of The Athletic in a recent interview. The 36-year-old Votto has been a Raptors fan since the team began playing in 1995. Votto tells Murphy that he loves basketball and he plays in his home gym regularly. The Cincinnati Reds slugger was in Cleveland for Game 6 of the NBA Finals when the Raptors clinched the championship with a 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors last year.
Selkirk1
George Selkirk. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Please take a moment to remember Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk who passed away on this date in 1987 at the age of 79. Suiting up alongside baseball immortals like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey, the Huntsville native is best known as the man that replaced Babe Ruth in right field for the Bronx Bombers. Wearing the Bambino’s famous No. 3, Selkirk excelled during his nine-year big league career with the Yankees. His major league resume boasts two all-star selections, five .300+ seasons and two 100-RBI campaigns. Selkirk was equally impressive in the postseason, belting a home run in his first World Series at bat in 1936. In all, the talented outfielder was part of five World Series-winning teams, the most of any Canadian. After his playing days were over, Selkirk served as supervisor of player personnel with the Kansas City Athletics in 1957 and later became the first Canadian general manager when he was hired by the Washington Senators in the fall of 1963.

 

  • Thanks to Danny Gallagher of the Canadian Baseball Network for providing an update on the health of former Montreal Expos pitcher Bob Sebra. Sebra, 58, is fighting for his life in an intensive care unit in a Miami hospital after undergoing two multi-visceral transplants in 2019. Gallagher writes that a multi-visceral transplant “involves the liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach and the small and large intestines.” Sebra pitched parts of two seasons with the Expos in 1986 and 1987. Let’s keep Sebra in our thoughts and prayers.

 

  • I’m reading Ken Dryden’s excellent new book about Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned about Bowman is that he grew up in Verdun, Que., and played baseball in the summer. Bowman was also a devoted baseball fan who attended International League Montreal Royals games in 1946 when Jackie Robinson was making history playing for the squad.

 

  • This week’s trivia question: George Selkirk was the first Canadian to serve as a general manager in the major leagues. Who was the second? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1981 Topps Andre Dawson card, a 1982 Donruss Rod Carew card and a 1983 Fleer Ozzie Smith card.

 

  • The answer to last week’s trivia question (Ajax, Ont., native Nigel Wilson had three seasons in which he clubbed at least 30 home runs while playing professionally in Japan. There are two other Canadians who have belted 25 or more home runs in a season while playing professionally in Japan. Name one of them) was one of Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, B.C.) or Rob Ducey (Cambridge, Ont.).

Published by cooperstownersincanada

Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.

6 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Larry Walker, Fergie Jenkins, Joey Votto, Rob Ducey

  1. How about Murray Cook with the Yankees in the early 80’s.
    Another great read, keep ’em coming. (Love the old photo of ‘Twinkletoes’ Selkirk)

  2. So great of the Rockies for retiring his number.
    Selkirk was one of the best and played with some great players
    Great news about Rob Ducey. Good for him.

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