September 23, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Starting next spring, you won’t have to drive to Wrigley Field to see a statue of Canadian baseball legend Fergie Jenkins.
Darrin Canniff, the mayor of Chatham, Ont., Jenkins’ hometown, announced on Thursday that a full-size replica of the bronze statue of Jenkins outside of the Chicago Cubs’ home stadium has been gifted to his city and will arrive in April or May of 2023.
“What an amazing opportunity to honour a Chatham-Kent legend,” said Canniff in a press release. “It’s the perfect way to commemorate Fergie as both an incredible baseball player and person.”
Jenkins was on hand at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre on Thursday for the announcement. The longtime Chicago Cubs ace has been inducted into both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He feels honoured that a statue will be coming to his hometown, where he honed his skills as a youngster.
“That’s something that’s surprising each time I think about it,” Jenkins told reporters of what it’s like to see a statue of himself. “Especially now with the mayor bringing the statue here, I think that’s going to be even more immortalized . . . When I go down and see my grandkids and relatives, they can understand that I played one of the best games in the world.”
The sculpture was done by artist Lou Cella.
The press release from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent says the sculpture “is being donated anonymously as a gift to the residents of Chatham-Kent” and that “all costs associated with the sculpture, delivery and installation will be covered by the donor.”
The lobby of the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre will serve as the temporary home for the sculpture. But the mayor is hoping that it will eventually become a centerpiece of a proposed new downtown civic centre.
“If by chance we do (get) the new civic centre, there’d be plans to put this statue right in the courtyard so everyone can see it,” Canniff told the Chatham Daily News. “That being a huge hub of activity, we want all people seeing it, not just baseball fans. If we put it somewhere in a baseball field or something, it would be a great location as well, but … Fergie is saying he wants it there (in the civic centre).”
A statue of Jenkins was erected outside of Wrigley Field on May 20. The legendary right-hander, who will turn 80 in December, is the first Canadian to be honoured with a statue outside a major league park.
The durable Jenkins pitched 10 seasons with the Cubs and holds franchise pitching records in WAR (53.1), starts (347) and strikeouts (2,038). While with the Cubs from 1967 to 1972, Jenkins registered six consecutive 20-win seasons and never tossed less than 20 complete games in any of those campaigns.
The Canadian pitching legend, who also toed the rubber for the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox, retired with 284 career wins and as the only pitcher in major league history to record more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,192), while allowing fewer than 1,000 walks (997). Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez have since joined that elite club.
Jenkins now lives in Texas, but he has family in Chatham and has been returning more regularly to his hometown in recent months.