October 22, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:
-Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) has his team one victory away from winning their second consecutive National League pennant. The Phillies will play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Monday. Last week, I shared that according to the MLB Network, Thomson is only the second big league manager (to Mike Matheny with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012-13) to have guided a team to a League Championship Series in each of their first two seasons. Well, one more win and Thomson will become the first National League manager in major league history to have piloted their team to the World Series in their first two seasons.
-Also, this week, Sarah Langs, of the MLB Network, offered another tweet after the Phillies’ second win of the NLCS that illustrates just how well the club has performed under Thomson in the postseason.
-Congratulations to Minnesota Twins standout Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) who was named the DH on MLB Pipeline’s Second Team All-Rookie Team on Tuesday. In 109 games for the Twins during the regular season, Julien belted 16 home runs, which set a record for most home runs by a Canadian second baseman in a major league season. He also topped Twins’ regulars in on-base percentage (.381) and was second in OPS (.839). And his hitting heroics didn’t stop in the regular season. When the ABC and Junior National Team alum socked a solo home run in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, he became the first Canadian rookie to homer in the post-season.
-Nobody needs to convince me that Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown, but in case you’re on the fence, this graphic (below) was shared with Cincinnati Reds columnist Matthew McAdow this week. It shows how Votto’s numbers compare to those of other Reds’ Hall of Famers. Pay particular attention to the on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG) and OPS columns.
-On this date 26 years ago, Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) became the first Colorado Rockies player to win a National League Gold Glove Award. The strong-armed right fielder had already won the award twice with the Montreal Expos in 1992 and 1993. In 1997, Walker had 12 outfield assists and led NL outfielders in double plays turned (4). He also topped NL right fielders in fielding percentage (.992).
-Please take a moment to remember Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and legendary Saskatchewan baseball executive Dave Shury (Wilkie, Sask.) who passed away on this date 15 years ago at the age of 78. Though diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair for the last 40 years of his life, Shury was a passionate and respected voice for Canadian baseball, leaving an indelible stamp on the sport at the local, provincial and national levels. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in law in 1954, Shury helped develop the Saskatchewan Baseball Association the following year and was tabbed as the organization’s president in 1956. He also maintained a successful law practice, while doubling as the secretary of the Canadian Federation of Amateur Baseball, helping to organize our country’s first national senior team, one that would compete in the 1967 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. Around the same time, Shury was also the driving force behind a successful campaign to secure government funding for Canadian baseball, which was critical in establishing Baseball Canada. For his efforts, he was named the first life member of Baseball Canada in 1972. Shury later established the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in Battleford, Sask.
-Catcher Erik Kratz played for nine different teams – including the Toronto Blue Jays – during his 11-season big league career from 2010 to 2020. After he was selected in the 29th round of the 2002 MLB draft by the Blue Jays, he was assigned to the Rookie Ball Medicine Hat Blue Jays. He dug out his hat from that first season and shared a photo of it on Twitter on Thursday. “Med Hat is where it all started. @MiLB allowed me to travel the country and meet so many people but Medicine Hat will always have a place in my heart,” Kratz tweeted with the photo. Kratz batted .275 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 44 games for Medicine Hat that season.
-And speaking of the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, former reliever Bob File also shared a photo of him and Scott Cassidy shagging balls in the outfield for the Rookie Ball club on Twitter the same day. File wrote that the photo (below) was taken before his first game in pro ball after being chosen in the 19th round of 1998 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. File was lights out for Medicine Hat that season, posting a 1.41 ERA and collecting 16 saves in 28 appearances. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out 28 in 32 innings. Three seasons later, he would register a tidy 3.27 ERA in 60 games out of the Blue Jays’ big league bullpen.
-And congratulations to Scott Cassidy, the other player in this Medicine Hat Blue Jays photo (above). Cassidy will be inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame on October 30. Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1975, Cassidy was signed as an amateur free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays on May 21, 1998. He developed into the ace of Medicine Hat Blue Jays’ staff that same year when he went 8-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts). Four years later, he’d earn a spot in the Blue Jays’ big league bullpen, making 58 relief appearances. He’d later pitch parts of two more big league seasons with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres in 2005 and 2006.
-If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 4th and 5th 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 sixth annual Canadian Baseball History Conference will take place in Toronto 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 $50. To register, please email Andrew at email@example.com.
-This week’s trivia question: Outside of Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who is the only other Canadian to win a National League Gold Glove Award at the outfield position? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Prior to Dave McKay (Vancouver, B.C.) with the D-Backs this season, who is the last Canadian to be an on-the-field coach for a team that has advanced to the National League Championship Series?) was Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2019.