June 14, 2020
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– Veteran right-handers Scott Mathieson and Scott Richmond, who were both born in Vancouver, had hoped to pitch for Canada at the Olympics this summer and then retire. With the Olympics postponed until 2021, however, both have confirmed with me that they would be ready to pitch next year if the national team comes calling (Canada would, of course, have to qualify for the Olympics first). “I definitely would love to pitch in the 2021 Olympics,” said Mathieson, who enjoyed eight outstanding seasons with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japan Central League. “I really miss baseball and would love to put the jersey on again for Team Canada.” Richmond, who toed the rubber for parts of four big league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and 15 pro campaigns overall, had a similar response. “I’ll never say no [to the national team] if I can contribute,” he said. “I’ll be ready if they call.”
– If you’ve been trying to obtain a Larry Walker autograph with his new “HOF 2020” inscription, you probably haven’t had any luck. In February, Walker agreed to an exclusive autograph and distribution agreement with TRISTAR Productions, an industry-leading autograph and memorabilia company based in Houston. The company had planned to hold a private signing with Walker in April and collectors sent in their items to be signed. Unfortunately, Walker has been out of the U.S. since March and not able to return due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the video below, he assured collectors that he’ll sign all of their items when is able to return to the U.S.
– In the first inning of a game between the Seattle Mariners and California Angels at Anaheim Stadium on September 14, 1990, Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr., became the first – and still only – father/son duo to hit back-to-back home runs in a major league game. So what’s the Canadian connection to this? Well, it was Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Kirk McCaskill (Kapuskasing, Ont.) who served up the homers. And McCaskill is not ashamed of this (as you will read in this article). When McCaskill was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., in 2003, he joked about giving up the homers to the Griffeys. “I didn’t feel that bad about it because they were both great hitters,” said McCaskill. “I did feel a little humiliated though when I looked over and saw Mrs. Griffey in the on-deck circle.” Griffey Jr. recently spoke about these back-to-back home runs with 2019 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) on his “Off the Mound” show. Click on the video link below to listen to Griffey Jr.’s memories.
– I’m not sure how I missed this, but Jim Adduci (Burnaby, B.C.) signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers on March 26. With this, the 35-year-old has returned to the big league organization that he made his major league debut with in 2013. The left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder, who played two games with the Chicago Cubs last season, enjoyed his longest tenure in the big leagues in 2018, batting .267 in 59 games for the Detroit Tigers. In the previous campaign, Adduci hit .241 in 29 contests for the Tigers. The 6-foot-2 veteran previously played parts of two seasons with the Rangers in 2013 and 2014, batting a combined .189 in 61 games. Selected by the Marlins in the 42nd round of the 2003 MLB draft, Adduci has played 16 professional seasons. He enjoyed his greatest success with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2015 when he hit .314 with 28 home runs and 106 RBIs in 132 games.
– Happy 34th Birthday to longtime national team member, former Texas Rangers draft pick and current Ontario Blue Jays instructor Tim Smith. After being selected by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2007 MLB draft, Smith batted .303 in six seasons in the affiliated minor pro ranks and finished his playing career with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League in 2014 and 2015. He has been a key contributor to the national team over the years and was a member of the 2011 and 2015 gold medal-winning Pan Am Games teams that have been inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
– Tom Goffena, the first player ever selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in MLB draft passed away on Thursday at the age of 61 after a long battle with colon cancer. You can read my detailed article about him here. In the article, I mention that Goffena was a road roommate of slugger Jesse Barfield during his first season in the organization. Barfield sent out a message of condolence (below) to Goffena’s family on Twitter on Friday.
– While I was doing some research before the draft, I discovered that the fifth round of the draft has been particularly fruitful for the Blue Jays. Here are some notable fifth-round selections by the club: Dave Stieb (1978), Pat Hentgen (1986), Mike Timlin (1987), Michael Young (1997) and Cavan Biggio (2016).
– I had noted on Twitter last week that Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) was one of the minor league players that the Arizona Diamondbacks had released near the end of May. While I was reviewing Baseball America’s list of minor league transactions, I also noticed that the D-Backs have released former Blue Jays’ first-round pick Travis Snider and the Tampa Bay Rays have released Deck McGuire, another ex-Blue Jays’ first-rounder.
– When my brother and I were growing up in the early-to-mid-80s, we used to play baseball games against each other on our parents’ front lawn. These were elaborate events. We picked a major league team and wore their batting helmet (if we had it) and even filled out lineup sheets. At that time, my favourite team was the Blue Jays, but my favourite player was Dale Murphy, so I was usually either the Blue Jays or the Braves in these games. My Blue Jays lineups always included Tony Fernandez and Damaso Garcia and my Braves’ lineups regularly included Biff Pocoroba and Claudell Washington. Sadly, all four of these players have passed away in the first six months of 2020. Washington died on Wednesday at the age of 65 after a battle with prostate cancer.
– This week’s trivia question: What two-time Grey Cup-winning quarterback was a first-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1971? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. Please note: I’m going to hold off awarding prizes until after the COVID-19 pandemic. Hope you understand.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who are the only two Blue Jays’ first-round picks to play more than 1,000 games for the club? ) was Lloyd Moseby and Vernon Wells.