October 9, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-It’s Thanksgiving Sunday and I wanted to say to thank you for reading and supporting my blog.
-With two outs in the top of the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 1985 American League Championship Series, Kansas City Royals catcher Jim Sundberg walked to the plate with the bases loaded and his team leading the Blue Jays 2-1. Facing Dave Stieb, he hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right field. But the wind at Exhibition Stadium got hold of it and it ended up ricocheting off the right field fence for a triple. All three Royals runners scored to make the score 5-1. That triple essentially ended the Blue Jays’ season and broke my 12-year-old heart. I have cursed Sundberg’s name ever since. Well, in time, Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford will become the Jim Sundberg of this generation for Blue Jays fans. His bloop double with the bases loaded in the eighth inning in Game 2 of the Wild Card series on Saturday at Rogers Centre cleared the bases and tied the game 9-9. I’ve been racking my brain and I can’t think of a more devastating loss in Blue Jays’ history than Saturday’s. The Blue Jays were up 8-1 in the sixth inning before everything unraveled.
-But let me say this, Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) deserved so much better. Summoned into the game in the eighth inning to get six outs, he allowed a single to the pesky Adam Frazier, but then struck out Carlos Santana and Dylan Moore before Crawford hit his bloop fly into no man’s land in centre field that scored three runs. Romano then struck out Ty France to end the inning. In the ninth, Romano was simply gassed. He had thrown more pitches in this outing than he had in any appearance all season and proceeded to allow the go-ahead run on doubles by Cal Raleigh and Frazier.
-When the Philadelphia Phillies completed their two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in their Wild Card Series on Saturday, Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) became the first Canadian manager to win a postseason series since Bill Watkins (Brantford, Ont.) led the National League’s Detroit Wolverines to a World Series win over the American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1887.
-And while we’re celebrating Thomson’s postseason success as a manager, here’s another Canadian manager to watch: Scott Thorman (Cambridge, Ont.). He managed the Kansas City Royals’ triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers to a 71-78 record this season. But prior to that, he had guided Royals’ affiliates to three straight championships. In 2021, Thorman, who played parts of two major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves in 2006 and 2007, managed the Northwest Arkansas Naturals to a double-A Central championship. In 2018 and 2019, he piloted the class-A Lexington Legends and High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks to titles respectively. The Royals fired field manager Mike Matheny on Wednesday. I would hope that Thorman would be a candidate to replace him.
– In somewhat of a surprise move, the Cleveland Guardians had catcher Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) on their Wild Card Series roster. Naylor initially joined brother Josh on the Guardians’ regular season roster on October 1, and it marked the first time since 1891 that two Canadian brothers have played on the same team at the same time, according to Scott Crawford at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Needless to say, this was also the first time two Canadian brothers have been on a major league playoff roster on the same team at the same time. The younger Naylor didn’t see any action in the Guardians’ two-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. His older brother, Josh, went 2-for-9 in the series.
-Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) had been lined up to start Game 3 of the Wild Card Series for the Guardians. Now he’ll likely start the first game of their American League Division Series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. This will be the first postseason start of Quantrill’s career. He pitched 1/3 of an inning in relief for the Guardians in their Wild Card series against the Yankees in 2020. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum led the Guardians and set a career-high with 15 wins during the regular season. He also hurled a career-best 186 1/3 innings and posted a strong 3.38 ERA.
-Please take a moment to remember legendary Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek who passed away 17 years ago today after a courageous battle with brain cancer. He broadcast 4,306 consecutive Blue Jays games from April 7, 1977 to June 2, 2004. He was also in the booth for all 41 of the franchise’s post-season contests between 1985 and 1993, including Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, which inspired his most famous call. After Blue Jays slugger Joe Carter clubbed his World Series-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth, Cheek quipped, “Touch’em all, Joe. You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.” Cheek was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2013. That same year, he received the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.
-Every postseason, I feel for Canadian baseball legend Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.). In 19 major league seasons, he appeared in 664 games and made 594 starts. He registered 284 big league wins and had six consecutive 20-win seasons for the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, he never got to pitch in the postseason.
-It was 34 years ago today that the Blue Jays signed a promising 16-year-old slugger out of Puerto Rico named Carlos Delgado. Delgado was discovered by Blue Jays Latin super scout Epy Guerrero who recommended the talented youngster to general manager Pat Gillick. Initially a catcher, Delgado reported to the class-A Short-Season St. Catharines Blue Jays in 1989 and batted .180 and failed to hit a home run in 31 games before returning to St. Catharines the following year and finding his stride as a hitter. It’s fun to think that Delgado was actually a catcher for his first six seasons in the Blue Jays’ organization before they tried converting him into an outfielder in 1994. He was transitioned to first base in 1995.
-This week’s trivia question: Who was Tom Cheek’s first partner in the booth on Toronto Blue Jays’ radio broadcasts? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was the first Canadian to hit a home run in their first World Series at bat?) was George Selkirk (Huntsville, Ont.) who homered for the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the 1936 World Series on September 30, 1936.