December 13, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Happy 80th Birthday to Canadian baseball legend Fergie Jenkins!
I tell anyone who will listen that everyone in our country should know who Fergie Jenkins is.
His story should be taught in schools, his face should be on our money and he should be featured on a postage stamp (OK, the latter has already happened).
On a far smaller scale of importance, without Fergie Jenkins, this blog likely wouldn’t exist.
To celebrate him on his 80th birthday, I’ve put together a list of 10 amazing stats about him.
But before we get to that list, let me provide you with a brief bio of him:
He grew up in Chatham, Ont., where he excelled in baseball, basketball, and hockey. After graduating from high school in the early ’60s, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but it wasn’t until he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs in 1966 that he was converted into a starting pitcher.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Jenkins recorded 20 wins and was selected to play in the 1967 All-Star game. The durable hurler followed that up by leading the National League with 40 starts and a 20-15 record in 1968. Those two seasons were part of a remarkable string of six consecutive 20-win seasons (1967 to 1972) for the Canuck superstar. His 1971 campaign ranks as his most impressive. That season, he led the National League with 24 wins, 30 complete games and 325 innings pitched and became the first Cub – and first Canadian – to win the Cy Young Award.
Dealt to the Texas Rangers following the 1973 season, Jenkins recorded 25 wins, 29 complete games, 245 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA in 1974. The Canadian pitching legend retired with 284 career wins and as the only pitcher in history to record more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,192), while allowing fewer than 1,000 walks (997). Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling have since joined that elite group. For his efforts, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2009, the Cubs retired the No. 31 in his honour (along with Greg Maddux) and in May a statue of him was erected outside of Wrigley Field.
10 amazing Fergie Jenkins stats:
- As noted earlier, Jenkins had six consecutive 20-win seasons from 1967 to 1972. No pitcher has duplicated that feat in the 50 years since.
- Not only did Jenkins have 24 wins, 30 complete games and earn a Cy Young Award for his 1971 season, he also belted six home runs and had a .478 slugging percentage that campaign. That slugging percentage was higher than Hall of Fame third baseman Ron Santo’s that season. Jenkins’ six home runs that year was equaled by Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano in 2006, but it still stands as the record for most by a Cubs pitcher in a season.
- Jenkins threw 267 complete games in his major league career. That’s more than double as many as any other Canadian has ever thrown in the big leagues. New York Yankees right-hander Russ Ford (Brandon, Man.), who pitched from 1909 to 1915, is second with 126.
- Jenkins threw 30 complete games in 1971. As Tom Harrington, of CBC, pointed out in a tweet on November 3, ALL major league pitchers combined to toss 37 complete games in 2022.
- Austin Eich, a baseball writer, tweeted out on February 25, 2022 that Jenkins averaged 21 complete games a season over a 10-year span from 1967 to 1976. “Among active pitchers,” Eich added. “only three have more than 21 CAREER complete games.”
- Jenkins hit a home run and tossed a complete game in the same game 10 times during his major league career. Think about that for a moment. Can you name one active pitcher who has hit a home run and tossed a complete game in the same game? I can’t. I wrote a whole article about it.
- Jenkins pitched 10 seasons with the Cubs and holds franchise pitching records in WAR (53.1), starts (347) and strikeouts (2,038).
- Jenkins made four career starts at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium. He threw complete games in all four of them. Fittingly, one of them came on April 24, 1977, just over two weeks into the Blue Jays’ first season, when he tossed a shutout for the Boston Red Sox. It was the first shutout ever thrown at Exhibition Stadium.
- The magical milestone for starting pitchers to reach is 300 wins. Jenkins finished with 284, but he pitched for mostly mediocre Cubs and Rangers teams. In fact in 1968 alone, Jenkins started six games that the Cubs lost 1-0 – including three within a one-month span (June 16 to July 11).
- Jenkins finished his career with an 84.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Hall of Fame pitchers with a lower career WAR include Nolan Ryan (81.3), Tom Glavine (80.7), Jim Palmer (68.5) and Don Sutton (66.7).
You can also listen to several Hall of Famers – including Andre Dawson and Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) – wish Jenkins a Happy 80th birthday here.