But What Do I Know? . . . Rob Thomson, Matt Stairs, Joe Carter, Jackie Robinson

Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) delivering his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in 2019. Photo: Scott Crawford, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

October 23, 2022

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:

-On Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they have signed manager John Schneider to a three-year contract (with a 2026 option). Meanwhile, Philadelphia Phillies skipper Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.), who signed a two-year contract extension on October 10, has his club within one win of the National League pennant and advancing to the World Series. You might remember that Thomson was interviewed by the Blue Jays for their managerial job in 2010 before they hired John Farrell. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s too bad that the Blue Jays didn’t reconnect with Thomson following the 2018 season after John Gibbons departed. Thomson lives in Sebringville, Ont., near Stratford, Ont., in the off-season. The Blue Jays have never had a full-time Canadian field manager, but Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) did manage the final game of the 2018 season for Gibbons.

-Speaking of Thomson, the museum in Mooretown, Ont., which is located near Thomson’s hometown of Corunna, has unveiled a new exhibit about the Phillies skipper. CTV London’s Sean Irvine recently visited the museum and filed this story about it.

-Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and Philadelphia Phillies slugger Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Friday. Stairs played parts of two of his 19 major league seasons with the Phils (He also played a season for the San Diego Padres, the Phillies’ NLCS opponent). He’ll never have to buy another beer in the city thanks to his clutch pinch-hit two-run home run with two outs in the eighth inning for the Phillies off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to break a 5-5 tie in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS. Earlier in the summer, Stairs threw out the first pitch at the Western Canadian Baseball League All-Star Game at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks, Alta. Stairs became the second Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee to throw out a ceremonial first pitch in the post-season. 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 October 13.

Photo: Philadelphia Phillies/Twitter

-Where were you 29 years ago today when Joe Carter belted his walk-off World Series-winning home run off Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6 of the 1993 Fall Classic at SkyDome? I was a second-year Journalism student at Carleton University at a house party on Sunnyside Drive in Ottawa. After the home run, a bunch of us ran out on to the street and sang the Canadian national anthem. For Canadian sports fans born after 1972, this was like our Paul Henderson moment.

Jackie Robinson (bottom right) signing his Montreal Royals contract on this day in 1945, with Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey (left) looking on. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

-It was 77 years ago today that Jackie Robinson made history when he signed a contract with the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ triple-A International League affiliate. Prior to breaking Major League Baseball’s colour barrier in 1947, Robinson would star at second base for the Royals in 1946. It’s widely believed that Dodgers GM Branch Rickey stationed Robinson in Montreal to ease his young prospect into integrated baseball. Playing his home games in a city with a reputation for racial tolerance would provide Robinson with relative tranquility for half the schedule. On the field, Robinson excelled, leading the International League in batting average, walks and runs, while propelling the Royals to their first Junior World Series triumph.

-New York Yankees right-hander Jameson Taillon, who started Game 1 of the American League Division Series, told Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae that he’s undecided on whether he’ll play for Canada at the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Though raised in The Woodlands, Tex., Taillon is a dual American/Canadian citizen. Both of his parents were born north of the border and he pitched for Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Taillon, who will be a free agent this off-season, topped Yankees pitchers and set a career-high with 14 wins in 2022. His 32 starts were the second-most by an American League pitcher. He also tossed 177 1/3 innings and struck out 151 batters.

-Please take a moment to remember former Washington Senators infielder and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Sherry Robertson (Montreal, Que.) who passed away in a car accident in Houghton, S.D., 52 years ago today. He was just 51. After stints with the Senators in 1941 and 1943, Robertson served in the military for two years, prior to resuming his major league career and becoming a fixture in Washington for close to seven seasons. His finest big-league campaign was 1949, when he belted 11 home runs and stole 10 bases. The versatile Canuck – who played outfield, second base, third base and shortstop – suited up for two more seasons in the U.S. capital, before finishing his playing career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1952. After hanging up his playing spikes, he was named farm director of the Senators in 1953 and held this post through the franchise’s move to Minnesota in 1961. In 1966, the Twins promoted him to a role as the club’s vice-president and farm director. Robertson’s legacy lives on in the Sherry Robertson Award presented annually to the Twins’ top minor league position player.

-I saw this photo (below) of former Montreal Expos greats Gary Carter and Woodie Fryman. Both left us too soon. Fryman, a longtime reliever with the Expos, passed away on February 4, 2011 after batting Alzheimer’s disease when he was 70. Just over a year later, Carter died from brain cancer when he was only 57. This photo brings back warm memories and I like to think this scene is playing out again somewhere right now.

– If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 12th and 13th on your calendar. Longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and co-founder of the Centre for Canadian Baseball Research Andrew North has announced that the fifth annual Canadian Baseball History Conference will take place in Windsor, Ont., on those dates. This year’s event, which will again be organized by Andrew, will include two days of interesting presentations on Canadian baseball history. For more information and for a complete list of the presentations, you can click on this link. The registration fee is $90. To register, please email Andrew at mavrix247@gmail.com.

-This week’s trivia question: Who holds the Toronto Blue Jays’ record for most triples in a season? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.

– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who is the only Canadian to have won a World Series ring with Cleveland?) was Jack Graney (St. Thomas, Ont.) in 1920.

Please support Cooperstowners in Canada and Kevin Glew

For 12 years, I’ve been offering my articles and blog posts for free on Cooperstowners in Canada. I’m now asking for your support to help fund my writing, research and the ongoing costs associated with this site to keep it going. Please consider making a donation by Paypal.


6 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Rob Thomson, Matt Stairs, Joe Carter, Jackie Robinson

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: