By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Robbie Ray was voted the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for August, but Port Hope, Ont., native Cal Quantrill also garnered some votes. During the month of August, Quantrill made six starts and finished with a 2-0 record and a 1.42 ERA and struck out 40 batters in 38 innings. This followed an excellent July that saw him go 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in five starts. In total, over his past 12 starts, the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum is 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 72 1/3 innings and has lowered his season ERA to 3.15 in 35 appearances (18 starts).
– Right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.), who had been placed on the injured list on August 14 with soreness in his right middle finger, was activated by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. In his return, he tossed a scoreless eighth inning in relief on Friday in the Marlins’ 10-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. In total, the Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum has posted a 4.20 ERA in 40 relief appearances, spanning 45 innings, for the Marlins this season. Pop was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks from the Baltimore Orioles in the Rule 5 draft in December then quickly flipped to the Marlins. He was originally chosen in the seventh round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was traded to the Orioles in July 2018 as part of the package for Manny Machado.
– Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) was released by the Los Angeles Angels on August 25. He had signed a minor league deal with the club on May 10. After starting the season with the double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas and batting .247 with five home runs in 27 games, he was promoted to the triple-A Salt Lake Bees, where he went 11-for-30 (.367 batting average) in 10 games before being let go. The 28-year-old outfielder spent part of 2020 in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization and then played four games for the Sugar Land Lightning Sloths of the independent Constellation Energy League. This came after parts of 10 seasons in the Blue Jays’ organization. Selected by the Blue Jays in the 16th round of the 2010 MLB draft, Pompey got his first taste of big league action in 2014 and he began the following season as the Blue Jays’ starting centre fielder and served as a valuable pinch runner for the club in their 2015 playoff run. Unfortunately, in the ensuing seasons, he was hampered by a variety of injuries – including three concussions. In all, he has competed in parts of four big league campaigns with the Blue Jays. In 627 minor league games, he has batted .278 and posted a .364 on-base percentage, while swiping 169 bases.
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has added a ball from Windsor, Ont., native Jacob Robson’s first major league game to their collection (See photo below). The Detroit Tigers and Robson also donated his locker name plate from Comerica Park. Robson made his MLB debut with the Tigers on August 12 when he pinch hit for catcher Grayson Greiner in the sixth inning and grounded out to second base. He stayed in the game and played left field in the Tigers’ 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. When Robson was called up from the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, he became the 13th Canadian to play in the big leagues this season. Selected in the eighth round of the 2016 MLB draft, the left-handed hitting outfielder was sent back down to the minors on August 18 after four games with the Tigers.
–On this date in 1914, a 19-year-old Boston Red Sox pitching prospect stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning and belted a three-run home run off Toronto Maple Leafs hurler Ellis Johnson at Hanlan’s Point Stadium on Toronto Island. Few thought much of the blast that cleared the right field fence. After all, the long ball came off the bat of George Herman Ruth, who was batting ninth and toeing the rubber for the double-A Providence Grays, and this husky teenager was destined for a future on the mound, not in the batter’s box. But that home run turned out to be Babe Ruth’s first professional regular season – and only minor league – round-tripper. The Bambino, of course, graduated to the big leagues by the end of that season and eventually socked 714 four-baggers in a 22-year career, mostly with the New York Yankees. With today being the 107th anniversary of that home run, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is selling a limited number of prints (numbered out of 714) that commemorate his historic first homer. Titled “The Babe and Toronto: A Legend Begins . . . September 5th, 1914,” these prints (an image of one is shown below) are signed by the artist, Pam Davies, and are being offered exclusively by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. The cost is $50 plus tax and shipping per print and proceeds will go towards the archiving of the artifacts. You can order one through this link.
-Thirty nine years ago today, Doug Frobel (Ottawa, Ont.) made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The left-handed hitting outfielder pinch ran for Richie Hebner in the eighth inning after Hebner had singled, but was forced out at second when Mike Easler hit a ground ball to the first baseman. Frobel, however, stayed in the game and played left field and struck out against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Tom Niedenfuer in his first at bat in the 10th inning. The Dodgers eventually won 2-1.
-It was 30 years ago today that left-hander Vince Horsman (Halifax, N.S.) made his major league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched the final 1 1/3 innings in relief of starter Jimmy Key in the Blue Jays’ 13-1 win over Cleveland at Cleveland Stadium. Horsman struck out the first two batters he faced (Albert Belle and Carlos Martinez).
-Happy 85th Birthday to Pirates legendary second baseman and Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski. Most remember him for his tenure as a sure-handed keystone sacker with the Bucs and for his walk-off World Series-winning home run in 1960. But Mazeroski also briefly coached with the Montreal Expos. In spring training 1982, Bill Virdon summoned Mazeroski, his old Pirates teammate, to help a young Tim Wallach make the transition from being an outfielder/first baseman to being a third baseman. “He helped me so much over at third base that spring,” said Wallach of Mazeroski during his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame conference call in 2014. “I had my ups and downs that year, but as I continued to work on the things he showed me – along with the fact that a lot of people told me that I’d be lucky to be an average third baseman, and that just wasn’t in my nature or my personality to be average – I worked hard and became a good third baseman and I loved it over there.” Whatever Mazeroski taught Wallach, it worked. Wallach won three Gold Glove awards at the hot corner with the Expos.
– My trivia question for this week: The first batter ever to face Babe Ruth (who began his big league career as a pitcher) in a major league game was a Canadian. Who was the Canadian? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section.
–The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was the first Blue Jays pitcher to hit a home run for them in a regular season game?) was Mark Hendrickson. He did it against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2003.