Happ-y New Year!
January 1, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Happy New Year to you! Thank you for all your support in 2022. I hope 2023 is a wonderful year for you.
-I want to extend my sympathies to former big leaguer Scott Bullett whose father, James, passed away on Christmas Day. Bullett operates the Bullett Proof Baseball Academy in Welland, Ont. Prior to that, he suited up for 247 games in parts of four major league seasons between 1991 and 1996 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. Bullett’s father was his “greatest fan.” I’m sending Scott my thoughts and prayers.
-One of the top Canadian baseball highlights of 2022 was Toronto native Elizabeth Benn being hired as the New York Mets’ director of major league operations in February. This position made her the highest ranking female in baseball operations in the franchise’s history at just 28 years old. In the role, she is responsible for roster construction, management and transactions. She landed her new job after working in the Major League Baseball head office in New York for five years, most recently as senior coordinator of baseball operations. With MLB, she helped establish the “Take the Field” program, which is now an annual professional development event that gives women the opportunity to learn from current baseball employees and network with their peers. It includes sessions that focus on coaching, player development, scouting and baseball operations. She was recently interviewed by The MLB Network about her experiences. You can watch the interview here.
-North Shore Twins and Coquitlam Reds alum Indigo Diaz (North Vancouver, B.C.) was traded by the Atlanta Braves to the New York Yankees on Wednesday, along with infielder Caleb Durbin, for left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge. Selected by the Braves in the 27th round of the 2019 MLB draft out of Michigan State University, Diaz went 3-4 with four saves and a 3.08 ERA in 49 relief appearances with the double-A Mississippi Braves in 2022. In parts of three minor league seasons with the Braves, the 24-year-old right-hander has gone 10-6 with nine saves and a 2.31 ERA in 87 relief outings.
Game-worn Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, B.C.) jersey recently donated to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has added one of Aaron Guiel’s game-worn Kansas City Royals jerseys (see above) to their collection. The gritty slugger, who was born in Vancouver, played parts of 10 seasons in the minors before making his big league debut with the Royals on June 22, 2002. Over the next five seasons with the Royals and Yankees, he belted 35 homers in 307 major league games, prior to socking 35 homers for the Yakult Swallows in Japan in 2007. More recently, he served as an instructor at the Royals’ minor league complex in Surprise, Ariz.
-Thank you to fellow Canadian baseball historian Tyler Partridge for sharing with me that former big leaguer Matt Maysey (Hamilton, Ont.) is the stepfather of Boston Red Sox catcher Connor Wong. Wong batted .188 in 27 games for the Red Sox in 2022. Maysey posted a combined 5.55 ERA in 25 appearances with the Montreal Expos and Milwaukee Brewers in 1992 and 1993. A fun fact about Maysey shared with me by Wisconsin sports writer David Schultz is that Maysey was the last Brewers pitcher to record a hit in a game while they were still an American League team when he singled in the 13th inning on August 24, 1993. The Brewers moved to the National League in 1998.
–Canadian Baseball Network contributor George Farelli reports that left-hander Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) has signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After making one relief appearance for the New York Mets this past season, the Canuck southpaw was designated for assignment and claimed by the Los Angeles Angels. He proceeded to post a 2.25 ERA in eight relief appearances for the Angels’ triple-A Salt Lake Bees before being called up and pitching in five games for the big league club. Zastryzny has spent parts of four seasons in the majors, including three with the Chicago Cubs from 2016 to 2018 in which he recorded a 4.41 ERA in 18 relief outings.
Arleene (Johnson) Noga. Photo: Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame
-Please take a moment to remember All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) star and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Arleene (Johnson) Noga who was born on this date in 1924 in Ogema, Sask. She grew up on a farm and graduated from Omega High School before moving to Regina. She starred on local diamonds before she was signed by the AAGPBL’s Fort Wayne Daises in 1945. After one season with the Daisies, she suited up for two-and-a-half campaigns with the Muskegon Lassies. The 5-foot-4 Canadian led the AAGPBL in fielding percentage at third base for three consecutive seasons (1946 to 1948). In 1949, she returned to Saskatchewan and played and coached softball for three decades. Along the way, her teams captured nine provincial softball championships and five Western Canada titles. For her efforts, she was elected to the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 and into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, along with the 67 other Canadian women who played in the AAGPBL, in 1998. She passed away in 2017.
-Who has made the most pitching appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays? My instinctive answer would be Duane Ward or Tom Henke. The actual answer is Jason Frasor. The reason I’m bringing this up is that 10 years ago today the Blue Jays reacquired Frasor from the Chicago White Sox for Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb. After parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Frasor had been dealt to the White Sox on July 27, 2011 with Zach Stewart for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen). Frasor would post a 4.12 ERA in 50 appearances for the Blue Jays in 2012, bringing his number of appearances with the Blue Jays to a franchise record 505 before playing his final three seasons with the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Braves.
-Please take a moment to remember former Washington Senators infielder and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Sherry Robertson who was born on this date in 1919. After enjoying stints with the Washington Senators in 1941 and 1943, the Montreal native served in the military for two years, prior to resuming his major league career and becoming a fixture in the U.S. capital for close to seven seasons. His finest big league campaign was 1949 when he belted 11 home runs and stole 10 bases. The versatile Canadian – who played outfield, second base, third base and shortstop – suited up for two more seasons with the Senators before finishing his playing career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1952. Following his playing career, he was named the Senators farm director 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. Sadly, Robertson’s executive career was cut short when he died in a car accident on October 23, 1970. His legacy, however, lives on in the Sherry Robertson Award presented annually to the Twins’ top minor league position player. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2007.
-This week’s trivia question: There have been four Canadians that have played for both the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays. Name two of them. Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
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Rob Ducey, Matt Stairs
You are correct, Dan. Nice job! Happy New Year!
Thanks for your new year’s blog on Canadian baseball. Would 2 of players be Matt Stairs and Dennis Boucher?
Thanks for your note and support. Yes, you are correct. Nice job!
Another interesting article. Shawn Hill and Matt Stairs.
Thank you very much, Bob. And yes, you are correct with Hill and Stairs.
Great rundown Kevin. Thanks for all the information.
Always good to have a question with Shawn Hill as part of the answer
Thanks for reading and your support, Scott.