By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– It took 30 years but Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) finally has some Canadian company in the plaque gallery in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) joked about joining Jenkins in his induction speech on Wednesday. “I am Canadian,” said Walker from the stage. “A couple of years ago I fell short in the voting, and I don’t do much on social media, but I did one of those hashtags things on Twitter and it read ‘Fergie needs a friend.’ I was, of course, referring to Ferguson Jenkins who was the only Canadian in Cooperstown. Today, I finally get to join Fergie as the second Canadian in the Hall of Fame and the first Canadian position player. Fergie, it’s an honour.” Later National Baseball Hall of Fame photographer Milo Stewart snapped the photo below and the Hall tweeted it out with the hashtag #FergieGotAFriend. It should also be noted that Bob Elliott (Kingston, Ont.) won the BBWAA Career Excellence Award in 2012. It’s the most prestigious award a baseball writer can receive. Bob is only Canadian to receive this award and his photo can be found in the writers’ wing of the Hall.
– Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) is making a strong case to join Jenkins and Walker in Cooperstown. He belted his 30th home run of the season for the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. It was also the 325th of his major league career which moved him past Frank Robinson and into second place on the Reds’ all-time home run list behind Johnny Bench (389). Votto is already second to Walker (383 home runs) among Canadians in big league homers.
-Scott Crawford, of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, shared on Twitter on Friday that Maple Ridge, B.C., native Tyler O’Neill, with his 25th home run of the season for the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, became just the fifth Canadian to belt 25 home runs and have at least 10 stolen bases in a major league season. The other Canucks to reach those marks are Walker, Votto, Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) and Corey Koskie (Anola, Man.).
– On Thursday, right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) started for Cleveland against lefty Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) and the Minnesota Twins. Quantrill came away the winner. He allowed just one earned run on four hits, while striking out five in 7 2/3 innings, in Cleveland’s 4-1 victory. Albers was saddled with the loss after permitting three runs on six hits in four innings. It was his third start of the season for the Twins. I can’t find a comprehensive list of major league games in which Canadian starting pitchers have faced off against each, but I do know that Jenkins has pitched against Reggie Cleveland (Swift Current, Sask.) and that Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) squared off against Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) in the latter’s major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 7, 1999.
-On this date 79 years ago, Frank Colman (London, Ont.) made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Batting third and playing right field, he went 1-for-4 in a 2-2, 11-inning tie between the Pirates and the Boston Braves at Braves Field. Colman’s first big league hit was a single off Braves right-hander Al Javery in the top of the ninth inning. The game ended in a tie because the Pirates needed to make a train for the next series. Unfortunately, there were no charter flights for the Pirates in 1942. According to this news clip (below) in The Idaho Statesman, it was the Pirates’ third tie of 1942.
-It was 47 years ago today that John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.) picked up his 17th win of the 1974 season in relief for the Detroit Tigers when he tossed three scoreless innings in the Tigers’ 9-7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Tiger Stadium. With that, he set an American League record for most wins in a season by a relief pitcher. Twins reliever Bill Campbell would tie the record two years later, but it has never been broken. The National League record for most wins by a relief pitcher in a season is 18 by Pirates reliever Roy Face in 1959.
–On this date in 1976, Ernie Whitt made his major league debut. And no, it wasn’t with the Toronto Blue Jays. Prior to being selected by the Blue Jays in the expansion draft that fall, Whitt made his big league debut with the Boston Red Sox when he pinch hit for Carlton Fisk in the seventh inning of a Red Sox 11-3 win over Cleveland at Fenway Park. He grounded out to second base against right-hander Harry Parker, but he stayed in the game to catch Luis Tiant in the eighth and ninth innings.
-Sixty years ago today, Tim Harkness (Lachine, Que.) made his MLB debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pinch-hit for catcher Doug Camilli in the bottom of the ninth inning and was walked by Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jack Baldschun in the Dodgers’ 19-10 loss at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In all, Harkness would play five games for the Dodgers in 1961 and go 4-for-8 (.500 batting average).
– My trivia question for this week: Name the only Canadian to post 10 or more wins as a relief pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section.
–The answer to last week’s trivia question (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?) was Jack Graney (St. Thomas, Ont.) on July 11, 1914.