But What Do I Know? . . . Rob Thomson, Joey Votto, Tyler O’Neill, first game at SkyDome

Prior to Rob Thomson, George Gibson (London, Ont.) was the last full-time Canadian manager.

June 5, 2022

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:

– On Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi and named Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) their interim dugout boss for the remainder of the 2022 season. With this, Thomson becomes the first full-time Canadian big league manager since George Gibson (London, Ont.) with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. I wrote about Thomson on Friday. The Phillies beat the Angels 10-0 in Thomson’s full-time managerial debut on Friday and won again 7-2 on Saturday. Veteran Canadian baseball statistician and historian, Neil Munro, sent me a list of the previous Canadian big league managers yesterday. Aside from Gibson, there have been six other Canucks who have managed in the big leagues: Bob Addy (Port Hope, Ont.) with Cincinnati in 1877, Bill Watkins (Brantford, Ont.) with five different National League and American Association clubs between 1884 and 1899, George Wood (Pownal, P.E.I.) with Philadelphia of the American Association in 1891, Arthur Irwin (Toronto, Ont.) with four different National League and American Association teams between 1889 and 1899, Fred Lake (Cornwallis, N.S.) with Boston from 1908 to 1910 and Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) who managed the final game of the 2018 campaign for the Blue Jays.

-Yesterday, Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) won his fifth straight start, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless innings in the Red Sox 8-0 win over the Oakland A’s at the Oakland Coliseum. The 29-year-old Victoria Eagles and Junior National Team alum is now 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his last five starts. In those appearances, he has struck out 29 batters in 35 innings.

-Congratulations to Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) who with his two doubles on Tuesday passed some legendary names on the Cincinnati Reds’ all-time extra-base hits and total bases lists. See the graphics shared by the Reds on Twitter below. On Saturday, he also recorded his 2,049th major league hit to move into fourth on the Reds’ all-time hit list ahead of Johnny Bench. He now trails only Pete Rose, Barry Larkin and Dave Concepcion.

-St. Louis Cardinals slugger Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) has been on the 10-day injured list since May 19 with right shoulder impingement. On Friday, he began a minor league rehab assignment with the triple-A Memphis Redbirds. If all goes as planned, he’ll return to the Cards lineup this week. It has been a rough start to the season for the Langley Blaze and Junior National Team alum. He is batting .195 with two home runs in 32 games.

Zach Pop. Photo: Miami Marlins/Twitter

-Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) was recalled by the Miami Marlins on Wednesday to serve as the club’s 27th man in a doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies. The 24-year-old right-hander and former Ontario Blue Jay pitched the final two innings in the first game, allowing one run, while striking out three, in the Marlins’ 14-1 win. It was Pop’s second appearance with the Marlins this season. He previously pitched an inning in relief against the Seattle Mariners on May 1.

-Mariners infielder Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) was activated off the 10-day injured list on Wednesday. Returning from a shoulder sprain, he tripled and walked in his second game back to help the M’s to 7-6, 10-inning win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. He has gone 2-for-14 in four contests since his return and he is now batting .175 in 42 games. The ABC Academy alum has six home runs and 14 RBIs this season.

–It was 33 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays played their first game at SkyDome in front of 48,378 fans. Unfortunately, those fans left disappointed when the Blue Jays lost 5-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Then Brewers’ third baseman Paul Molitor was the first player to get a hit at the Dome when he clubbed a leadoff double off Blue Jays lefty Jimmy Key in the top of the first inning. Molitor also scored the first run on a Gary Sheffield ground out later that frame. Blue Jays slugger Fred McGriff became the first player to homer in the new facility when he went deep in the bottom of the second inning. And with his pinch-hit appearance for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the sixth, Rob Ducey (Cambridge, Ont.) became the first Canadian to play in the SkyDome. Brewers starter Don August was the winning pitcher while Key took the loss, despite hurling a complete game.

-Who was the last Blue Jays pitcher to register 20 wins in a season? The answer is J.A. Happ. He did it in 2016. The veteran left-hander announced his retirement on Tuesday. In his 15-season big league career, Happ collected 133 wins and posted a 4.13 ERA in 354 appearances (328 starts). He enjoyed two stretches with the Blue Jays: from 2012 to 2014 and then from 2016 to 2018. The well-travelled southpaw also had tenures with the Phillies, Astros, Mariners, Pirates, Yankees, Twins and Cardinals.

-If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff, like me, do yourself a favour and buy the recently released SABR book called Our Game Too: Influential Figures and Milestones in Canadian Baseball. It was edited by my friend, baseball historian and co-founder of the Centre for Canadian Baseball Research, Andrew North, and it features chapters by many of my favourite Canadian baseball writers and historians, including Andrew North, Bill Humber, Chip Martin, Tom Hawthorn, David Matchett, Richard Armstrong, Stephen Dame, Allen Tait and Warren Campbell. There’s even a chapter on Ed Pinnance by the wonderful Marty Healy who passed away in 2020. I was happy to see that his contributions to Canadian baseball history are still being recognized. You can purchase the book on Amazon or at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont. The local SABR chapter will also be selling copies on induction day on June 18.

-This week’s trivia question: Happ won 20 games for the Blue Jays in 2016. Who is the only other LEFT-HANDER to win 20 games in a season for the Blue Jays? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (After playing 32 games for the Blue Jays in 1987, Mike Sharperson was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. What is the name of the pitcher the Blue Jays got in return for Sharperson?) was Juan Guzman.

6 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Rob Thomson, Joey Votto, Tyler O’Neill, first game at SkyDome

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  1. great weekly updates Kevin. I didn’t know Pop was recalled. NIce. Hope he can crack the roster on a fulltime bases like in 2021.

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