October 16, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Cleveland Guardians slugger Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) delivered an RBI double off potential World Baseball Classic teammate Jameson Taillon (whose parents are Canadian) in the 10th inning in the Guardians’ 4-2 win over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of their American League Division Series on Friday. The Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum also singled and scored a run in the fourth inning. Naylor added another single and an RBI on Saturday in the Guardians’ 6-5 walk-off win in Game 3. Naylor and the Guardians are now up 2-1 in the series and will have the opportunity to eliminate the Yankees on Sunday. Naylor also joined an exclusive group on Friday. He has joined the group of players that has been imitated by Batting Stance Guy.
-On Tuesday, Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) became the first Canadian to start the first game of a postseason series since Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) did so for the Chicago Cubs on October 1, 2008. Unfortunately, Quantrill was the losing pitcher when he allowed three earned runs in five innings to the Yankees in the Guardians’ 4-1 loss at Yankee Stadium. The good news for the Guardians, however, is that Quantrill will start Game 4 at home tonight, with an opportunity for his team to advance to the American League Championship Series. The Guardians have to like their chances. Quantrill, an Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum, went 9-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 19 starts at Progressive Field this season and he was also 6-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 22 appearances (14 starts) at home in 2021. That gives him a 15-0 record at Progressive Field over the past two seasons.
–Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 2 of the American League Division Series between the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on Thursday. Puhl was inducted into the Astros Hall of Fame on August 13. The longtime Astros outfielder, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., in 1995, 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.
-The Mariners suffered a heartbreaking, season-ending 1-0, 18-inning loss to the Astros on Saturday, but not before right-hander Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) opened some more eyes out of the M’s bullpen. Brash didn’t allow a hit and struck out three in his 1 2/3 innings in relief in the contest. Add that to his scoreless outings in Game 1 of the series and against the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of the Wild Card Series and Brash didn’t permit a hit or a run in 3 1/3 innings this postseason.
-On Thursday night, Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) was asked to bang the game-opening drum at the Wells Fargo Center prior to the Philadelphia Flyers’ season opener against the New Jersey Devils. Thomson, whose Phillies completed their upset of the Atlanta Braves in their National League Division Series with an 8-3 win on Saturday, is a big hockey fan and he saw the Flyers beat the Devils 5-2. “Just walking through the arena and all the people acknowledging they knew who I was. I’ve gone 58 years, nobody knew who I was. Now, all of a sudden . . . ” he told reporters.
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has received the hat (pictured below) that outfielder Jared Young (Prince George, B.C.) wore for the Chicago Cubs in his first major league game on September 16 for their collection. Young doubled off Colorado Rockies right-hander Justin Lawrence in the bottom of the eighth inning of that game for his first big league hit. In all, the Okanagan Athletics alum went 5-for-19 (.263 batting average) in six games down the stretch for the Cubs.
-Forty-one years ago today, Jerry White hit arguably the biggest home run in Montreal Expos’ history. With the Expos and Los Angeles Dodgers tied 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth of the third game of the National League Championship Series, White belted a three-run home run off Dodgers lefty Jerry Reuss to give the Expos a 4-1 lead. I wasn’t there, but I’ve been told that Olympic Stadium has never been louder than after that home run. Steve Rogers shut the Dodgers down the rest of the way and the Expos won 4-1 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, leaving them just one win from reaching the World Series.
-It was 37 years ago today that 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 top of 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. As painful as it is to rewatch, here’s the video.
-Please take a moment to remember former Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Ed Bahr (Rouleau, Sask.) who was born on this date in 1919. He pitched parts of two big league seasons with the Pirates in 1946 and 1947. In 46 major league games (25 starts), he went 11-11 and posted a 3.37 ERA. He continued to pitch in triple-A in the Pirates’ and Brooklyn Dodgers’ organizations for three seasons from 1948 to 1950. Though Bahr was born in Saskatchewan, he actually grew up in Seattle, Wash., where he returned to following his pitching career. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 87.
-On this date in 1993, the Blue Jays beat the Phillies 8-5 in the first game of the 1993 World Series, which was played at SkyDome. This represented the first – and still only – time that the first game of a World Series was played in Canada. Devon White and John Olerud homered for the Blue Jays. Al Leiter picked up the win after pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Juan Guzman. Duane Ward recorded the final four outs for the save.
-Please take a moment to remember legendary B.C. baseball coach and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Andy Bilesky who was born on this date in 1919. With an emphasis on discipline, hard work and sportsmanship, Bilesky guided his Little League teams to 28 district championships, 11 provincial titles and five Canadian championships. The Trail, B.C. native’s squads competed in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., five times (1967, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1990). According to the Canadian Little League Association, Bilesky is the only coach to have piloted teams to the Little League World Series more than three times. Among the hundreds of players Bilesky coached, two of the most famous are major leaguer Jason Bay and former NHL player Ray Ferraro. For his tireless efforts, Bilesky was selected coach of the year by B.C. Amateur Baseball twice (1967, 1976) and in 1975, a Little League park in Trail was named in his honour. He was also inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Bilesky passed away in 2008.
-This week’s trivia question: Who is the only Canadian to have won a World Series ring with Cleveland? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was Tom Cheek’s first partner in the booth on Toronto Blue Jays’ radio broadcasts?) was Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn.