By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Some Canadian baseball news and notes:
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is set to announce their 2022 induction class on Wednesday. Stay tuned to this website for the announcement. The 2022 induction class will be honoured alongside the Hall’s four 2020 inductees: Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.), Jacques Doucet (Montreal, Que.) and Blue Jays greats John Olerud and Duane Ward. The induction ceremony will be held on June 18 in St. Marys, Ont. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hall of Fame has been unable to hold an in-person induction ceremony since 2019.
-Speaking of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, Melville, Sask., native Terry Puhl, who was honoured in St. Marys in 1995, has been elected to the Houston Astros Hall of Fame. The announcement was made on Thursday. Puhl will be inducted in a pre-game ceremony at Minute Maid Park on August 13. The Canuck outfielder suited up for 14 of his 15 major league seasons with the Astros. He ranks in the club’s all-time top 10 in numerous statistical categories, including fourth in triples (56), fifth in games (1,516), sixth in stolen bases (217), eighth in hits (1,357) and runs (676), and ninth in doubles (226). Defensively, Puhl was one of the most reliable outfielders of his era. His career .993 fielding percentage is the best by an Astros outfielder. Puhl also managed the Canadian national team to a sixth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics. Thank you to Adam Morissette at Baseball Canada for sharing the great image of Puhl managing the Olympic team above.
-Back in 2011 when I was a baseball blogger for CBC Sports, I was asked to fill out a mock National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. On my pretend ballot, I voted for John Olerud. My vote would’ve been as much to acknowledge him as a person and an inspiration as it would’ve been for his excellent playing career. If I had a vote this year, I would’ve done the same for Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.). Yes, injuries may have prevented him from accumulating Cooperstown worthy numbers, but he had an excellent career and is a Hall of Fame humanitarian. Back when I shared that I would vote for Olerud, some people wrote and called me an incompetent baseball writer. My response was that if it makes me a bad voter to recognize a good person, that’s something I can live with. P.S. I was happy to see that five people voted for Morneau this year.
-As you already know, Boston Red Sox superstar David Ortiz was the only player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the baseball writers this year. But I was excited to see that former Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen had his named checked on 63.2 percent of the ballots in his fifth year of eligibility. That all but guarantees he’ll be elected in the coming years. I won’t bore you with advanced statistics that support Rolen’s case, but I will say this, I’ve been watching baseball religiously since 1985. I didn’t get to see much of the careers of Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson, but the two best all-around third basemen I’ve ever seen are Rolen and Adrian Beltre. Beltre is likely to be a first ballot inductee when he becomes eligible in 2024.
-On Tuesday, Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) congratulated David Ortiz on his election to the Hall of Fame with this greet tweet and photo:
-I also enjoyed this tweet and video (below) shared by former Blue Jays pitching prospect Shane Dawson (Drayton Valley, Alta.). After being selected in the 17th round of the MLB draft by the Blue Jays in 2012, the Canuck lefty spent parts of six seasons in the organization. He had the opportunity to face Big Papi in a pre-season exhibition game at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on April 2, 2016. Click on the tweet below to see the video:
-Right-hander Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.) has been named the pitching instructor of the new Regina Red Sox Academy. Selected in the 15th round of the 2003 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Lethbridge Community College, Molleken toed for the rubber for parts of eight seasons in Bucs’ system before enjoying tenures in the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Guardians and Detroit Tigers organizations. The 6-foot-4 righty made his big league debut with the Tigers in 2016. During his pro career, Molleken also consistently answered the call for the national team and he was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning squad at the 2011 Pan Am Games. He most recently pitched for Canada at the Americas Olympic Qualifier in 2021.
-Felipe Rojas Alou Jr., the son of former Montreal Expos manager and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Felipe Alou, has been named manager of the Baltimore Orioles’ low-A Delmarva Shorebirds. Alou Jr. played three seasons as an outfielder in the Kansas City Royals’ organization and part of one season with the Montreal Royales of the ill-fated Canadian Baseball League. He has been employed by the O’s for 15 years. Most recently, he had served as the director of the club’s Dominican Academy. This will be his first job as a professional field manager.
-I recently had the opportunity to interview and write about the wonderful Jeff DeWillis, a former Blue Jays catcher who is now a much loved middle school teacher in Texas. You can read my full article here. When I spoke to him, DeWillis shared a heartwarming Tom Cheek story. DeWillis told me about what Cheek did for him after he clubbed his only major league home run on April 25, 1987. “Tom Cheek did something very, very nice for me,” recalled DeWillis. “We were on the West Coast. We were out in Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim . . . And on the plane, Tom hands me this cassette. He said, ‘I made this for you. I want you to have it.’ It was his call of my home run. And I have that cassette to this day and that’s really, really special to me.”
-Please take a moment to remember Montreal Royals great Sandy Amoros who would’ve turned 92 today. He played parts of four seasons in Montreal, including in 1953 when he batted .353 with 23 home runs, 40 doubles, 11 triples and had 100 RBIs in 150 games. He also played parts of seven major league seasons with the Dodgers and Detroit Tigers. He passed away in 1992. This photo (below) of him is one of my favourite Montreal Royals photos.
-My condolences to Expos Fest founder and friend Perry Giannias on the passing of his mother, Katina, who fought a valiant battle against Parkinson’s disease for over 11 years. You can read about this wonderful woman here. My thoughts and prayers go out to Perry and his family.
-This week’s trivia question: Who holds the record for most wins in a major league season by a Canadian pitcher? Hint: It’s not who you think. Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who is the player pictured below? Here are three hints: He hit .300 or better in five consecutive seasons for the Expos. He was a three-time National League all-star. He finished his MLB career with the Seattle Mariners.) was Jose Vidro.