August 14, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
– Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) is set to make Canadian baseball history today when he plays his 1,989th major league game to break Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker’s record for most major leagues games played by a Canadian. The games played record will be the most recent all-time Canadian major league mark that Votto has claimed. The Etobicoke, Ont., native is already the all-time Canuck leader in at bats (7,031), plate appearances (8,491), walks (1,338) and All-Star Game selections (six). With his contract extending through the 2023 season (with a team option for 2024), he is also expected to challenge Walker’s all-time Canadian records in doubles (471) and hits (2,160). Votto has 453 doubles and 2,093 hits heading into Sunday’s contest. Representatives from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will be in attendance at The Great All-American Ball Park in Cincinnati to present Votto with a plaque to commemorate the accomplishment following the contest.
– Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) was inducted into the Houston Astros Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony at Minute Maid Park last night. The longtime Astros outfielder, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., in 1995, was honoured, alongside former general manager Tal Smith. Puhl suited up for 14 of his 15 major league seasons (1977 to 1990) with the Astros. The only two players to play more seasons with the Astros are Craig Biggio (20) and Jeff Bagwell (15). Puhl ranks in the club’s all-time top 10 in numerous statistical categories, including fourth in triples (56), sixth 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. You can watch the induction video the Astros created for Puhl here.
-Cleveland Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) put together the most dominant start of his major league career against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday, in front of friends and family. The 6-foot-3 right-hander held the Blue Jays to one hit, while striking out seven, in seven scoreless innings. It was Quantrill’s first start in his home province since May 25, 2019 when he allowed two hits and three earned runs, while striking out nine, in six innings for the San Diego Padres in their 19-4 victory to earn his first big league win. In two career starts at Rogers Centre, Quantrill is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and has allowed just three hits in 13 innings. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum has not surrendered a run in his last two starts for the Guardians, totaling 13 innings, and is now 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 22 starts, spanning 130 innings, this season.
-Speaking of Canadian pitchers with scoreless innings streaks, Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) has not permitted a run in his last seven relief appearances for the Seattle Mariners. During that stretch, he has pitched 7 1/3 innings and struck out 13 batters. He also made a highlight reel play on the mound in the top of the 12th inning against the New York Yankees on Tuesday when he fielded a ground ball behind his back to start a double play. The M’s won the game 1-0 when they scored the following inning. You can watch the play here:
-Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) has had an outstanding start to his major league career with the Miami Marlins. Since being promoted on July 29, the Canadian infielder, who has played primarily third base, is 17-for-45, good for a .378 batting average. He has recorded at least one hit in 11 of his first 13 major league games.
-After a rough start to July, which saw his ERA balloon to 5.30 on July 9, right-hander Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.) has not allowed a run in his last 11 relief appearances for the Chicago Cubs, lowering his ERA to 3.94. Wick, who was sidelined for much of 2021 by an oblique injury, has made 46 appearances and has seven saves for the Cubs this season. The Vancouver Cannons and Junior National Team alum has spent parts of four previous seasons in the majors. Selected in the ninth round of the 2012 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Wick was a catcher when he entered the minor league ranks before being converted into a pitcher. He made his major league debut with the Padres in 2018.
-Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a double in the first inning on Saturday against the Guardians. This is the longest hitting streak of Guerrero Jr.’s major league career. During the streak, his batting average has risen from .263 to .287. But he still has some work to do to match his father’s career best. His dad had a 31-game hitting streak for the Montreal Expos in 1999.
-When Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) took over as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies on June 3, he became the first full-time Canadian big league manager since George Gibson (London, Ont.) with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. Thomson has since led the Phillies to a 41-21 record and into a National League playoff position and Scott Lauber, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote on Wednesday that he feels Thomson warrants serious consideration for the National League Manager of the Year award. I agree with Lauber. And if Thomson won this, it would be the first time a Canadian has taken home a major league Manager of the Year honour.
-Here’s a funny story I read on Twitter about when Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen whose father hails from St. Marys, Ont.) used the much-maligned, teeny-bopper pop hit “Barbie Girl” by Aqua as his walk-up song for part of one season:
-Fifty-four years ago today, the Montreal Expos hired Jim Fanning to be their first general manager. After playing 64 games as a catcher over parts of four seasons with the Cubs from 1954 to 1957, Fanning pursued a managing career. After managerial stops in Tulsa, Dallas, Eau Claire and Greenville, fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, John McHale, hired him as a special assignment scout for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. The following year Fanning was promoted to assistant general manager, a post he would hold until 1967. By this time, Fanning’s scouting skills had impressed many, including those in Major League Baseball’s head office, and in 1968, he was hired to be the first scouting director of Major League Baseball’s Scouting Bureau. But Fanning’s tenure at that position would be a short one. McHale, who was now serving as Expos president, offered Fanning the opportunity to become the Expos first GM and he accepted. In his 25 years with the Expos that followed, Fanning helped build the franchise from scratch and served in several different capacities, including vice-president, scout and even two stints as the field manager (1981-82, 1984). When Fanning took over as the field boss in 1981, he had drafted or helped develop the skills of 21 players on the roster. The highly respected baseball man would guide the Expos to their first and only playoff berth in 1981, leading the team to within one win of advancing to the World Series. In his quarter century with the Expos, he established himself as one of baseball’s best talent evaluators, counting fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Larry Walker, Steve Rogers and Tim Wallach among the players he helped sign. He also played an important role in signing Andres Galarraga and Randy Johnson for the club. After leaving the Expos in 1993, Fanning was hired as a special assignment scout by the Colorado Rockies. He was later employed as an ambassador of amateur baseball with the Blue Jays. He passed away on April 25, 2015.
-This week’s trivia question: Other than the aforementioned Walker and Votto, four other Canadians have played 1,500 or more major league games. Name two of them. Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Two Canadians have recorded 40 or more saves in a major league season. Name them.) was Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) and John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.).