July 10, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano is headed to his second consecutive MLB All-Star Game.
The Markham, Ont., native received the invite on Sunday. He’ll replace Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez on the American League squad. Valdez pitched on Saturday, so he won’t be available for Tuesday’s contest.
According to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Romano is the 23rd different Canadian to be selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Romano, who didn’t pitch in last year’s Midsummer Classic, is the first Canadian pitcher to represent the Blue Jays in the All-Star Game since Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) in 2001.
After receiving the invite on Sunday, Romano went out and recorded his American League-leading 26th save of the season to preserve the Blue Jays’ 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. The Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum owns a 4-4 record and a 2.87 ERA in 39 appearances this season.
Originally selected in the 10th round of the MLB draft by the Blue Jays in 2014, the 30-year-old right-hander is now in his fifth major league season.
Romano is the fifth player born in Canada to represent the Blue Jays in the All-Star Game. The others are Quantrill (2001), Russell Martin (Montreal, Que., 2015), Michael Saunders (Victoria, B.C., 2016) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, 2020-23).
With Romano and Guerrero Jr. on the AL roster, a player born in Canada will be competing in the MLB All-Star Game for the 25th time in the past 26 Midsummer Classics.
Here’s some more trivia about Canadians and the MLB All-Star Game:
– The first Canadian selected to an All-Star Game was Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk, an outfielder with the New York Yankees, who toiled in the 1936 contest.
– Fort William, Ont., native Jeff Heath started in right field for the American League in the 1941 All-Star Game and hit fifth in their order behind Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. The Canuck slugger went 0-for-2 with a walk before being replaced by DiMaggio’s brother Dom.
– Three Canadians – Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.), Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) and Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) – were selected for the 2008 classic. This represents the highest number of Canucks ever chosen.
– In 2008, Morneau became the only Canadian to win the All-Star Home Run Derby when he defeated Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton in the final round 5-3. In 2019, Guerrero Jr. was selected to participate in the Home Run Derby, though he was not on the American League All-Star team. He dazzled fans by hitting a record 91 home runs in total, but he lost in the final round of the competition to New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso.
– The two hits Morneau recorded in the 2008 All-Star Game are the most by a Canadian in the Midsummer Classic.
– Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) has been selected to six All-Star games. That’s the most by a Canadian position player. Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) was selected to five.
– In 2021, Guerrero Jr. became the second player born in Canada to hit a home run in the All-Star Game. It was a solo shot in the third inning off Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes. Votto was the first to homer. He did so in the 2018 contest.
– No Canadians were selected for an All-Star game between Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) in 1978 and Walker in 1992.
– Three Canadian pitchers – Jason Dickson (Miramichi, N.B.), Jeff Zimmerman (Kelowna, B.C) and Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) – were selected to All-Star games in their rookie seasons in 1997, 1999 and 2019 respectively.
– When the All-Star game was held at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on July 13, 1982, it was the first time that the Midsummer Classic had been played outside of the United States. Almost 60,000 fans crammed into The Big O to watch the National League club – which featured five Montreal Expos (Al Oliver, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter and Steve Rogers) on its roster – defeat the American League 4-1. Rogers started the game and registered the win. Right-hander Jim Clancy was the sole Blue Jay on the American League squad. He pitched a scoreless fourth inning. It’s also interesting to note that Montreal native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Jim McKean umpired third base.
– On July 9, 1991, the All-Star Game was held at SkyDome in Toronto. Three Blue Jays – Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter and Jimmy Key – suited up for the American League squad, who downed a National League team, whose roster featured Expos Dennis Martinez and Ivan Calderon, 4-1. Fittingly, Key was the winning pitcher, while Martinez took the loss. Former Expo Andre Dawson homered in the fourth inning for the National League.