June 18, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
-Up until my mid-teens, he channeled his inner Mickey Mantle to hit me countless fly balls down Thames Crescent in Dorchester, Ont. And I chased them pretending to be Jesse Barfield or Dale Murphy. He’s a kind, quiet, patient, gentle and responsible man who has literally given me the shoes off his feet on more than one occasion. He’s my handyman, my accountant, my Toronto Blue Jays co-analyst and most importantly, a tremendously supportive dad. I’m blessed to have Ralph Glew as my father and I’m grateful that I was able to spend some time with him at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies yesterday.
-It’s without question the best Father’s Day moment in Blue Jays’ history. Thirteen years ago, John McDonald returned to the Blue Jays with a heavy heart five days after delivering the eulogy at his father Jack’s funeral. As one of his final requests, McDonald’s father asked his son to point up to him after he touched home plate following his next home run. The Blue Jays’ smooth-fielding shortstop, who averaged less than two home runs a season, promised he would, but he cautioned his father that it could take a long time. Magically, in his first at bat after his father’s death, McDonald belted a pitch from San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt over the left-field wall at Rogers Centre on Father’s Day. You can watch the home run below:
-I spoke with Josh Barfield prior to his father’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Marys, Ont., yesterday about the impact his father had on him and his professional career. Josh played parts of four big league seasons with San Diego and Cleveland between 2006 and 2009. “My dad was my coach. He was my hero. He was the guy that I tried to emulate when I was out on the field,” said Josh. “As I got older, he was a coach and mentor for me because everything I got into as an amateur or a pro, and even on the other side in the front office that I’ve got into now, he’s done all of these things. So it’s nice having somebody you can pick up the phone and call who has been through [the same stuff].” Josh, who’s now the Arizona Diamondbacks’ director of player development, also wore No. 29 in honour of his father. “I felt like if there was a Barfield in the big leagues, he should be wearing No. 29,” said Josh.
-Toronto Blue Jays legendary first baseman John Olerud, who was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020, but was unable to make it to St. Marys, Ont., to be inducted until yesterday, spoke about his father, John Sr. during his speech on Saturday. John Sr. was a right-handed hitting catcher who played seven minor league seasons in the Angels, Cardinals and Expos organizations between 1965 and 1971. He played his final minor league season with the Expos’ triple-A Winnipeg Whips. “As somebody growing up wanting to be a baseball player, I couldn’t have picked a better dad,” said Olerud. “You know going out and playing catch, batting practice, working out and pitching, it was all something that we would do for fun. He was a baseball player. He played in the minor leagues, so he could teach me the subtleties of the game, which made it a lot more fun and helped me have more success. And then he was a doctor, so if I got hurt, he could fix me up and get me back out on the field.”
-Former Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs fireballer and 2023 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.) also spoke about the impact his father, Russ, had on his baseball career. “Dad, thanks for all the hours you spent throwing with me, catching me, throwing balls to me in the cage. I perfected my forkball throwing to him on the beach around Lake Winnipeg and just throwing it over and over and over again. He would catch me all the time, even when I was in my first two seasons in the big leagues, too, when I was coming home in the off-season living at home. He would catch some of my pitches before spring training. And at that time, I still didn’t know where the ball was going. I was wild . . . and he came out of it with a lot of bloody shins.”
– Keeping with the Father’s Day theme, I wanted to share this photo (below) of former Montreal Expos second baseman Delino DeShields and his son Delino DeShields Jr., who’s currently an outfielder with the Cleburne RailRoaders of the independent American Association, from DeShields Jr.’s Instagram page. DeShields Jr. was born on August 16, 1992 when his father was in the middle of one of his best seasons with the Expos. That season, the senior DeShields batted .292 with 156 hits – including eight triples – and registered 46 stolen bases as the club’s primary leadoff hitter.
– By now, you have probably seen this great photo (below) of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Jr. Longtime Expos fan and baseball historian Warren Campbell pointed out to me a couple of years ago that this photo was snapped at the last Expos home game in 2002. Batting leadoff for the first time in his career, Guerrero came into that contest with 40 stolen bases and was looking for his 40th home run to become baseball’s second 40/40 man. But it wasn’t to be, he finished 1-for-5, with his sole hit being a double off the centre field wall in the fifth inning.
-This is the type of guy Jesse Barfield is. He connected with St. Catharines, Ont., native Rob Trickey, who owns the largest collection of Barfield cards in the world (I wrote a profile about Trickey in February), on Twitter and brought Trickey one of his game-used hats and gave it to the super collector in St. Marys, Ont., after his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday (See photo below).
-Congratulations to longtime Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer Christine Douglas on being named the 2022 winner of the Randall Echlin Lifetime Volunteer Award, which is given out each year by the Hall. Christine has so selflessly supported the Hall of Fame over the years. For 23 years, she was the head organizer of the Hall’s fundraising golf tournament. I was very happy to see her recognized.
– I can’t think of a better way to end a Father’s Day column than with this clip from Field of Dreams, the 1989 movie inspired by the book, Shoeless Joe, written by Canadian author and Jack Graney Award winner W.P. Kinsella. This scene (click on link below) is an emotional and heart-warming moment between Ray Kinsella and his father, John, who magically appears on the ball diamond that Ray has constructed in the field at his farm. Say, “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch?” when you’re in a crowd of people at almost any ball field in North America and someone will know this scene.
-This week’s trivia question: There have been two Canadian father and son combinations that have played in the major leagues. Name one of them. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who is the only Canadian to hit for the cycle in a major league regular season game since 1900? ) was George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.) for the Milwaukee Brewers on September 3, 2011.