My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! And especially to my mom, Glenyce Glew, who my dad and I have dragged to enough Toronto Blue Jays games over the years that she has become one of the team’s more spirited fans. I’m very fortunate in that not only does my mom enjoy baseball, she’s also loving, supportive, compassionate and generous. She also reads this blog. I love you, mom.
- It was 49 years ago today that Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout for the Chicago Cubs against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the first shutout ever thrown at Veterans Stadium which had opened one month earlier. Jenkins struck out 12 batters in the game. It was his sixth of 24 wins in his 1971 National League Cy Young Award winning campaign.
- New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Tuesday that Canadian James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) should be recovered from his back surgery by the middle of this month. Boone shared that Paxton had pitched a simulated game on Monday and prior to that, had hurled five successful bullpen sessions. The Canuck left-hander underwent back surgery in early February. The initial prognosis was that he would miss three-to-four months. The procedure that Paxton underwent was a microscopic lumbar discectomy which included the removal of a peridiscal cyst. The Canuck southpaw, who has pitched in parts of seven major league seasons, is coming off a career-best 15 wins with the Yankees in 2019.
- It was 39 years ago today that right-hander Charlie Lea became the first Montreal Expos pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Olympic Stadium. He accomplished the feat in the second game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants. Lea scattered four walks and struck out eight in the Mother’s Day contest. Sadly, Lea passed away in 2011 when he was just 54. I had the privilege of interviewing him in 2010 and I asked him about the no-hitter. He told me the only time during the game he feared he’d lose the no-hitter was when Giants catcher Milt May hit a line drive in the fifth inning. “Milt May, a left-handed hitter for the Giants, hit a very hard, one-hop line drive, maybe a step to the side of Rodney Scott at second base. That ball was hit on the nose, but Rodney picked it very easily,” recalled Lea.
- Who is the only Canadian to hit for a cycle in the major leagues since 1900? The answer is Scarborough, Ont., native George Kottaras who did it with the Milwaukee Brewers against the Houston Astros on September 3, 2011. The jersey he wore in that game is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection. Kottaras, who played parts of seven big league seasons from 2008 to 2014, turns 37 today. Happy Birthday to him!
- Please take a moment to remember Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Allan Roth who would’ve turned 103 today. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 74. In 1944, Roth, who was born in Montreal, made a pitch to Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey about the importance of advanced statistics such as on-base percentage. Rickey grew intrigued with the young Canadian and hired him in 1947, making him the first statistician ever on a major league club’s payroll. Roth would collect and analyze stats for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers until 1964. The mathematically minded Canuck recorded every pitch and wrote his stats out by hand. Roth later wrote a column for The Sporting News and worked the NBC and ABC games of the week until 1990, feeding data to broadcasters such as Al Michaels and Vin Scully. “Long before there was Mary Poppins, there was Allan Roth,” Scully once said. Roth was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2010. He was also named one of SABR’s 2019 Henry Chadwick Award winners. This award was established by SABR to honour the game’s great researchers.
- Forty-four years ago today, the Blue Jays hired Welland, Ont., native Paul Beeston as their first employee. After graduating from Welland High & Vocational School, Beeston obtained a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in economics and political science, from the University of Western Ontario in 1968. He was hired by Coopers & Lybrand in London and received his chartered accountant designation in 1971. He remained with the London firm until he was hired by the Blue Jays as vice-president of administration. After a short tenure in that role, Beeston was promoted to vice-president of business operations with the club the following year. His rise through the Jays’ ranks continued when he was named executive vice-president of business in 1984 and president and chief operating officer (CEO) in 1989. On December 13, 1991, he was appointed the chief executive officer of the franchise, overseeing the Jays’ two World Series-winning teams. He later became the president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. He was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.
- Given his love for the No. 3, and the fact that he wore No. 33, Canadian slugger Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) would be thrilled to read this article by Nick Groke, of The Athletic, that was published on Thursday. “Baseball-Reference provides a tool to neutralize batting stats to league and era averages for easy, even comparisons over time. By its measure, for hitters with at least 8,000 career plate appearances, Walker ranks as the 33rd best player in the game’s history,” writes Groke in this piece. You can read the full article here (Subscription required).
- According to reports on Thursday, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and legendary Blue Jays infielder Roberto Alomar has sold his 18,000 square-foot home in Tampa Bay for $4 million. A Mansion Global article shares that the house is in the gated community of Avila and boasts eight bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, a wine cellar, a home theater, and an elevator. It also has indoor and outdoor pools, a sports court, and an eight-car garage.
You missed your chance to live like a Hall of Famer https://t.co/MvcgW8p1Yc
— Mansion Global (@MansionGlobal) May 9, 2020
- My deepest condolences to London Majors pitching coach Brent Wales on the passing of his father, Rob. My thoughts and prayers are with Brent, his wife Alicia and his mother Sue.
- This week’s trivia question: Two Expos pitchers threw five-inning no-hitters for the club (Poor weather cancelled the rest of their games). Can you name one of these pitchers? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. Please note: I’m going to hold off awarding prizes until after the COVID-19 epidemic. Hope you understand.
- The answer to last week’s trivia question (Fergie Jenkins and Ryan Dempster had their best major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Name two other Canadian pitchers who have toed the rubber for the Cubs over the years.) was any two of Ken Crosby (New Denver, B.C.), John Upham (Windsor, Ont.), Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.), Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) and Steve Wilson (Victoria, B.C.),