By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
A player born in Canada will be competing in the MLB All-Star Game for the 23rd time in the past 24 Midsummer Classics.
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was born in Montreal, Que., will start at first base for the American League in Tuesday’s all-star showdown at Coors Field in Denver, Colo. This is Guerrero Jr.’s first All-Star Game.
It should also be noted that Tampa Bay Rays process and analytics coach, Jonathan Erlichman (Toronto, Ont.), will be part of the American League coaching staff.
Building on a list provided by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018, 22 Canadians – 11 pitchers and 11 position players – have been selected for the All-Star game over the years.
Here’s some trivia about the Canucks that have been chosen:
– The first Canadian selected was Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk, an outfielder with the New York Yankees, who toiled in the 1936 contest.
– Fort William, Ont., native Jeff Heath started in right field for the American League in the 1941 All-Star Game and hit fifth in their order behind Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. The Canuck slugger went 0-for-2 with a walk before being replaced by DiMaggio’s brother Dom.
– Three Canadians – Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.), Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) and Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) – were selected for the 2008 classic. This represents the highest number of Canucks ever chosen.
– In 2008, Morneau became the only Canadian to win the All-Star Home Run Derby when he defeated Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton in the final round 5-3. In 2019, Guerrero Jr. was selected to participate in the Home Run Derby, though he was not on the American League All-Star team. He dazzled fans by hitting a record 91 home runs in total, but he lost in the final round of the competition to New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso.
– The two hits Morneau recorded in the 2008 All-Star Game are the most by a Canadian in the Midsummer Classic.
– Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) has been selected to six All-Star games. That’s the most by a Canadian position player. Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) was selected to five.
– Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) and Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) were selected to three All-Star games each – the most by a Canuck pitcher.
– Jenkins’ six strikeouts in the 1967 contest tied an All-Star game record. Among the players Jenkins fanned in that contest were Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew.
– No Canadian has ever hit a home run in an All-Star game, but as mentioned, Morneau did win the 2008 Home Run Derby.
– No Canadians were selected for an All-Star game between Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) in 1978 and Walker in 1992.
– Two Canadian pitchers – Jason Dickson (Miramichi, N.B.) and Jeff Zimmerman (Kelowna, B.C) – appeared in All-Star games in their rookie seasons in 1997 and 1999 respectively.
– When the All-Star game was held at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on July 13, 1982, it was the first time that the Midsummer Classic had been played outside of the United States. Almost 60,000 fans crammed into The Big O to watch the National League club – which featured five Montreal Expos (Al Oliver, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter and Steve Rogers) on its roster – defeat the American League 4-1. Rogers started the game and registered the win. Right-hander Jim Clancy was the sole Toronto Blue Jay on the American League squad. He pitched a scoreless fourth inning. It’s also interesting to note that Montreal native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Jim McKean umpired third base.
– On July 9, 1991, the All-Star game was held at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Three Blue Jays – Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter and Jimmy Key – suited up for the American League squad, who downed a National League team, whose roster featured Montreal Expos Dennis Martinez and Ivan Calderon, 4-1. Fittingly, Key was the winning pitcher, while Martinez took the loss. Former Expo Andre Dawson homered in the fourth inning for the National League.