By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
-Great news for those of us in Canada who have been wanting to see the documentary about Fergie Jenkins called “Glory & Grief: The Fergie Jenkins Story” which was aired exclusively on the Chicago-based Marquee Sports Network this summer. It will be shown on the MLB Network in Canada this Thursday at 8 p.m. E.T. It will also be rebroadcast on Christmas Eve (See the tweet below).
-On Monday, Rob Longley, of the Toronto Sun, broke the news that Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) underwent knee surgery following the season. An MRI had revealed that Romano had a torn meniscus in his left knee. The 28-year-old reliever told Longley that he believed that he sustained the injury while covering first base in the Blue Jays’ first game back at the Rogers Centre on July 30. “It was my left knee and that’s huge because it’s my landing knee and that’s where you get a lot of your velocity being able to stop your body,” Romano told Longley. “It’s really important. We worked hard on just getting it stable enough to be able to throw on it for the rest of the season.” The fact that he was throwing on one good leg makes Romano’s performance in the season’s final two months all the more remarkable. In 25 appearances in August and September/October, the Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum was 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA with 14 saves. He also struck out 41 batters in 26 2/3 innings in that span.
-Former Colorado Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.) visited the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., on Tuesday, along with his parents, Mike and Joanne (photo below). A first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2002 MLB draft, the Canadian southpaw won 72 major league games (seventh-most by a Canadian pitcher) during his 11-year career that saw him toe the rubber for the Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s, New York Yankees and Blue Jays. His most successful stretch came with the Rockies from 2005 to 2007 when he won 14, 13 and 17 games respectively. In 2007, he became the second Canadian to start a World Series game when he got the nod in Game 1 of the Fall Classic (Swift Current, Sask., native Reggie Cleveland started Game 5 of the 1975 World Series for the Boston Red Sox). Francis has also pitched for the Canadian national team on several occasions, including on the gold medal-winning squad at the 2015 Pan Am Games. In his visit to the Canadian ball shrine on Tuesday, Francis got to see some of the game-used items he has donated to the museum over the years.
– This tweet by Austin J. Eich on Wednesday sure puts Canadian baseball legend Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) in some elite company.
– It was nine years ago today that Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) signed a two-year, $26.5-million contract with the Boston Red Sox. He’d only end up pitching one season in Beantown, but it was a memorable one in which he earned his first World Series ring. In 2013, Dempster went 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 32 appearances (29 starts) for the Sox. He also posted a 3.00 ERA in three relief appearances and helped them conquer the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. He retired after the season, ending his successful 16-year big league career for which he ranks near the top of most all-time Canadian pitching categories, including second (to Jenkins) in wins (132), strikeouts (2,075), starts (351) and innings pitched (2,387).
-Unfortunately, injuries hampered right-hander Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.) throughout his major league career, but when he was healthy, he could dominate. This tweet (below) is evidence of that:
– It was 30 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays signed 41-year-old Dave Winfield to a one-year, $2.3-million contract to be their designated hitter for the 1992 season. Despite a nine-season tenure with the New York Yankees, Winfield did not have a World Series ring when he landed with the Blue Jays. It proved to be a match made in heaven. Winfield would hit .290 with 26 home runs and 108 RBIs in 156 regular season games in 1992 and knock in the game-winning run for the Blue Jays with his two-run double in the top of the 11th inning of the sixth and deciding game of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves. That was his sole season with the Blue Jays. He finished his 22-year MLB career with the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland. Winfield was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2001.
–Legendary coach Itchy Jones will have his No. 1 retired by the Southern Illinois University Salukis in a ceremony on April 30. Jones’ posted a 738-345-5 record in his two-decade tenure with the Salukis from 1970 to 1990. He led the team to three College World Series appearances. One of the players he coached was a young outfielder/pitcher named Dave Stieb, who played for him in 1978. Jones will become the first in Salukis’ baseball history to have his number retired.
– I think I’ve found the most Canadian baseball card released in the past 10 years (photo below). This is from the 2011 Topps Triple threads set. Just 27 of these were printed.
-This week’s trivia question is another photo. The following is a photo of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2015 inductees. Without looking them up, can you name these five inductees? Please answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who is in the photo below? Here are three hints: He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Tim Wallach credits him for helping him learn the nuances of playing third base (but he didn’t play third base himself). He hit one of the most famous walk-off home runs in MLB history) was Bill Mazeroski.