A stamp celebrating Canada’s ‘one and only’ Hall of Fame baseball player, Fergie Jenkins, were recently released. Upon seeing the stamps, my eyes lit up at the post office and I said, “Fergie!” The girl behind the cash knew at that moment she had a sale. It’s probably most exciting time that I’ve ever had at the post office. Man, am I a sucker for baseball collectibles under ten bucks? This is what they look like:
The stamps celebrate black history month and commemorate Fergie receiving the Order of Canada in 2007 for outstanding merit making a difference in the lives of Canadians.
Fergie has been a great supporter of baseball in Canada and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I had the opportunity to meet Fergie at a baseball tournament near my hometown last year. Being the Blue Jays fan that I am, I asked him what he thought about the Jay rotation. He liked Ricky Romero, as I vaguely recall? Anyway, Fergie was at the tournament selling signed bobbleheads, gloves etc.. all supporting his foundation, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation. Obviously, I bought a bobblehead for those who know me. I’m appreciative that Fergie took some time to talk baseball with me, being just some average fan.
Fergie was a hidden Canadian baseball treasure, coming from a very small farm town outside Chatham, Ontario to become a 3-time All-Star and Cy Young award winner. He is very deserving of being invested to the Order of Canada and now a stylish member of Canadian postage history.
Oh yes! On Saturday I got to touch the same plate that Joe Carter crossed when he hit the World Series winning homerun in 1993. It was an enormous rush of shear ectasy and elation, as I touched the ledgendary plate. For a minute, I relived that homerun all over again. It truly was one of the greatest feelings I could ever have. In this picture, you are witnessing one of the greatest moments in my history, along with Canadian Baseball History.
This is a good picture my girlfriend caught. I’m saying, “Can I touch it?” to the tour guide accompaning us through the Hall. I even have my hand out shaking as I say it – imagining the beautiful moment that my hand was about to encounter. Phew, what a day!!!
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame houses many interesting pieces of baseball history in Canada.
I couldn’t think of a more perfect follow-up to my previous post, where I lashed out at an American writer that generalized all Canadians into having a lack of respect/committment towards baseball. The St. Marys, Ontario site has many reasons why Canadians, or even Americans, should feel proud to be a fan of the great game. Some of the information our tour guide, Scott, through at me was amazing. You would be amazed to hear that Babe Ruth hit one of his first pro homeruns in Canada, that Ruth credited a Canadian with making him the hitter that he was and that Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in Canada playing his first pro game in Montreal. Canada is where Hall of Fame coach, Sparky Anderson, honed his managrial skills, it is where Tommy Lasorda PLAYED most of his career, and it is where baseball ledgends like Fergie Jenkins, Tip O’Neil (hit somewhere near .425 in the late 1800’s) Larry Walker and George Selkirk (the player that replace Babe Ruth in right field for the Yankees) were born. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is a magical place, smaller and with noticeable less assets, but equally as impressive as Cooperstown in my estimation. Here are some of the highlights from my trip:
The outside of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is similar to a house in the town of St. Marys. This adds to the nostalgia and historic atomosphere of the building.
Here I am in the actual Hall. Not only are Canadians recognized here, but others with contributions to Canadians Baseball History – such as, Joe Carter, current Blue Jay manager Cito Gaston, Tony Fernandez and Cooperstown Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, to name a few.
“Fergie was the man!” from the words of my tour guide. He is a Canadian Baseball icon, and an excellent pitcher in his time. Fergie Jenkins was the prototypical finess pitcher. He won 20 games seven different times, along won the Cy Young in 1971. He won 20 games in six straight years from 1967-1972!! Yes indeed! He was the man, and has his own section in the Canadian Baseball Hall!
Home plate taken away from the last game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal was a sad thing to look at. The Expos have a large feature exhibit in the Hall.
Equally as sad was this glove from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Knowing that baseball may be taken out of the Olympics is what made looking at this a difficult thing for me. I have loved cheering for Canada in the Olympics, where hometown stars like Stubby Clapp and Peter Orr emerged. A great number of the international competitions that Canada competed in are featured here in this exhibit.
My girlfriend, who was taking the pictures, saw this as one of her favorite exhibits. It is chubby Expo bobblehead along with the Expos display. The cuteness of this bobblehead lives on, even after the fallen Expos franchise.
Among the many great displays, was a number of pieces from the short-lived 1940’s women’s league that was featured in the movie, “A League of Their Own.” A large percentage of the players in that league were actually recruited from Canada, many might not know.
My girlfriend loved the pink uniform. This exhibit was very well done.
On the right: Tip O’Neil is a ledgendary Canadian member of the CBHOF. He played in late 1800’s and put up astronomical numbers. The Tip O’Neil Award is given to the most outstanding Canadian baseball player every year. On the left: Jack Graney was the first major league player to appear in a game with a number on his uniform. He later became the first major league player to become a broadcastor. The Jack Graney award is presented periodically to journalists deemed to have made notable contributions to promoting baseball in Canada.
Member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and one of the greatest Blue Jays to ever put on the uniform has his own section here. Tony Fernandez is the all-time Jays leader in hits, he has come back to play for the Jays three different times and has always been an exciting fan favorite. With his looping, but deadly accurate sidearm throws from shortstop, #1 Tony was definately one of my favorites. I got a little excited over this display.
Here is some Blue Jay Bling, Bling!!! Hope that you weren’t blinded. Don’t worry, I will get our healthcare system will cover it.
Larry Walker and Justin Morneau are the only two Canadians to win MVP awards. They are honoured here in this section. More current Canadian players are recognized here. There is a lot of neat Justin Morneau stuff, like the first bat he used in the majors, a Canadian Cooper made bat FYI.
I wore my replica Brooklyn Dodgers jersey here because I knew that they had a great exhibit for Jackie Robinson. Like I mentioned before, Jackie played his first pro game in Montreal.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario also hosts a number of minor baseball tournaments, and other games of all kind. They have a MLB sized field with lights, and beside one field, are donated seats from the old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. I sat in a couple, and it brought back memories from when I was a kid.
We topped off the day a the Hall of Fame, the best way I know how. With a portabello burger loaded with cheese, and a side of sweet potatoe fries from a restaurant called the Creamery in St. Marys.
There is so much to see in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I could not possibly fit it all in one blog post. If you love baseball in Canada, general baseball history and want a really cool place to visit, St. Marys and the CBHOF provided me with that and more!! They do guided tours, and the people there have loads interesting of information.
Anyway, this trip made my week, it made my month, it made my year!!