But What Do I Know? . . . Larry Walker, Joey Votto, Cal Quantrill, Ernie Whitt

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.

Photo: Milo Stewart, National Baseball Hall of Fame

– 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.

Frank Colman with the Pittsbugh Pirates. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

-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.

Ernie Whitt started his MLB career with the Boston Red Sox.

–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.

11 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Larry Walker, Joey Votto, Cal Quantrill, Ernie Whitt

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  1. You make my eggs sunny-side up on Sundays, Kevin! Thanks for doing what you do, week-in & week-out. I have (1) audio-related comments about Walker’s induction, followed by (2) further info re: Hiller, that interestingly, sort of tides over from your note about the rare Quantrill v. Albers Canuck pitching match-up.

    (1a) Loved Cooperstown-destined Joey Votto doing the voice-over for Walker’s video. What a classy touch!

    (1b) And speaking of classy touches, did anyone else pick up on the soft musical tune used on MLB.TV’s coverage, going out to, and back in from, commercials. It was the tune coinciding with “Oh Canada” beginning our national anthem. If you didn’t, here is a link to remind you what they went with throughout the entire 4+ hour telecast. Hats off for the subtle tribute to Walker & Jenkins! https://youtu.be/hA3UwqyZxro

    (2) Growing up in Windsor, naturally I was a Tigers fan and a Hiller fan. Besides his team-leading 17 wins, Hiller also led the Tigers that year saves (13), ERA (2.64), appearances (59), SO/9inn (8), and was second in WHIP, tied with the legendary Mickey Lolich (1.260), to Vern Ruhle (1.242). It is worth noting though, that Ruhle only pitched a total of 33 innings, compared to Hiller’s 150 and The Mick’s 308 (not a typo!). Hiller also absorbed 14 losses and had nine blown saves. He was named an All-Star that year, and finished 7th in the AL Cy Young voting, behind Fergie Jenkins (2nd), and winner, Catfish Hunter. He was 20th in AL MVP voting, behind Jenkins (5th), and winner, Jeff Burroughs.

    Kevin, your article got me wondering about how many of Hiller’s 17 W’s in 1974 were “guilt” wins, in other words, blown saves that enabled him the opportunity to chalk up a win, kind of a tainted win, that a quality person like John Hiller would have preferred to be able to give back to the starting pitcher.

    To his credit, of Hiller’s 17 wins that year, only four came after a blown saves, costing The Mick a pair of W’s, and Woodie Fryman and Joe Coleman a win apiece.

    While Hiller amassed 43 starts over his career, all 59 of his appearances in ’74 were in relief. But the interesting thing that kind of paired up with your note on Quantrill v. Albers as starters, was that, three out of those four blown saves happened against Canadian opposing starters, Reggie Cleveland (BoSox), Fergie Jenkins (Rangers), and Dave Pagan (NYY). The fourth was Jackie Brown, and Kevin, I’ll let you tell us if Jackie Brown had a Canadian connection!

    Here are a few more tidbits about those four blown saves that resulted in wins, that include many more household names, despite the fact that we’re talking about 47 years ago!:

    May 10, 1974, Red Sox-5 @ Tigers-6
    Lolich entered the 9th with a 5-2 lead, having struck out seven while allowing only five hits and one base on balls. He struck out Tommy Harper, and then induced Danny Cater, who had homered in the fourth, into a pop out to second. With the game seemingly in-hand, Carlton Fisk singled to left, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The Mick then walked Carl Yastrzemski, and Tiger’s field manager Ralph Houk brought in Hiller to face Rico Petrocelli, who had struck out, hit a run-scoring double to left, and flew out to right in his first three ABs. Petrocelli smoked a deep homer to left that tied up the game. Juan Beniquez grounded out to second to end the rally.
    In the home half of the 9th, Willie Horton doubled to left, and Boston reliever Diego Segui, who took over for Reggie Cleveland in the seventh, intentionally walked Norm Cash. The Gator (Gates Brown), pinch-hitting for catcher Jerry Moses, struck out. Ben Oglivie, pinch-hitting for Aurelio Rodriguez, hits a walk-off double to right.
    Al Kaline and Cash took Cleveland (6.1 IP, 5 R, 6 H, 4K, 3 BB) deep in the 4th inning.

    June 17, 1974, Tigers-6 @ Rangers-4 (10 innings)
    Woodie Fryman (8 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 3 K, 3 BB) brings a 4-0 shutout into the bottom of the 9th, but walks Jeff Burroughs and Tom Grieve, and gives up a three-run homer to Jim Fregosi, narrowing the margin to one. Hiller gets Toby Harrah to flyout to left, but then serves a homer to Lenny Randle. He strikes out Jim Sunberg and Cesar Tovar to send the game to extras.
    In the top of the 10th, after Eddy Brinkman flies out, Mickey Stanley singles to center, and Gary Sutherland reaches on a fielder’s choice, as Stanley was out at second. Kaline rips a homerun to left, putting the Tigers up 6-4. Hiller faced 2-3-4 in the Boston’s order, but disposed of Dave Nelson with a pop out to SS, giving up a single to Alex Johnson, but Burroughs flew out to left, and Hiller punched out Grieve to secure the win.
    Jenkins took the loss, pitching all 10 innings (anybody surprised by that?), allowing a total of six runs, eight hits, 10 strikeouts, and just one walk. Bill Freehan went yard on Fergie in the 4th.

    June 19, 1974, Tigers-4, Rangers-2 (11 innings)
    Joe Coleman throws six complete innings, leaves with the score 2-1 Tigers, having allowed five hits, and three walks, while striking out a pair. Duke Sims hit a solo HR in the 5th. Hiller takes over in the 7th, trying to maintain the one run lead provided by Ben Oglivie’s HR and Eddie Brinkman’s RBI single to centre, plating Mickey Stanley, both in the 4th inning.
    Hiller faces the minimum in the 7th, Fregosi thrown out at 2nd trying to stretch a single, Randle K’s, Tovar pops out to SS. Hiller escapes the 8th with one run across despite giving up three singles and a base on balls. He throws a 1-2-3 9th, and puts up another zero in the 10th, stranding Mike Hargrove, who had reached on a Brinkman error.
    In the top of the 11th, following a Marv Lane groundout, Stanley draws a walk, and Moses singles Stanley to third. Brinkman doubles home Stanley and moves Moses to third, who scores the insurance run on a ground out to 2B by John Knox.
    Hiller closes it out with a perfect bottom half, inducing Harrah to flyout, and retiring Fregosi and Randle on ground outs.

    July 3, 1974 > Yankees-6, Tigers-8
    Canuck Dave Pagan starts for the Yankees, and breezes through his three innings, giving up no runs, one hit, one BB while striking out one, and turns over a 1-0 lead to the bullpen, beginning with Dick Woodson. Lou Piniella doubled home Elliott Maddux with two outs in the third.
    The Tigers put up a 5-spot in the sixth thanks to Jim Northrup’s three-run homer, scoring Kaline and Horton, Brinkman singling home Freehan, and Stanley driving home Brinkman with a two-out double.
    Craig Nettles hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 7th, scoring Otto Velez, who led off with a triple. He escaped further damage, but with a 5-2 lead, gave up leadoff back-to-back singles to Roy White and Maddox in the 8th, sending him to the showers (7 IP, 4 R, 9 H, 4 K, 0 BB).
    Hiller allows a single to Piniella, scoring White, and moving Maddox to 2nd. He wild pitches both of them into scoring position. Bill Sudakis sac flies Maddox home, and Velez follows with a two-run HR. Munson singled, but Nettles looked at strike three to end the comeback. Freehan walks to lead off the bottom of the 8th, Rodriguez doubles him to 3B, and Moses ties the game with a sac fly.
    Hiller allowed a harmless single to Maddox in the top of the 9th. Up come the Tigers and after a Sutherland groundout, Kaline singled. Knox pinch-runs for Kaline, but Marv Lane K’s. With two out, Jim Northrup takes Sparky Lyle deep for his second bomb of the game, a walk-off win!

  2. Such a great photo of Fergie and Larry with the plaque! Wow….
    So many Canadians having great seasons. So happy to see.
    Ernie in Boston uniform sure does look different. So used to seeing him in TOronto uniform.

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