Dempster is bobbing along with the Cubs

by on May 13, 2012

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*RHP Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC) is off to a good start: plenty of strikeouts, not too many runs allowed, lots of no decisions and one boibblehead./Photos: Alexis Brudnicki ….

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By Alexis Brudnicki

CHICAGO, Ill. – It’s been a big week for Ryan Dempster.

First, the right-hander celebrated his 35th birthday in Cincinnati on May 3. He threw eight innings of shutout ball, striking out six Reds hitters but taking a no-decision in the game.

In his next start, Tuesday night at home against the Atlanta Braves, Dempster completed seven frames, allowing one run and striking out seven. Though has so often been the case this season, he did not earn a decision due to a lack of run support.

Before Wednesday’s day game at Wrigley Field, the Cubs gave away Ryan Dempster bobbleheads to thousands of fans, highlighting the hurler’s career achievements and recognizing his greatness thus far in the Cubs organization.

First on the list of accomplishments on the box that encompasses the pitcher’s bobblehead is that he “was the first Canadian pitcher to go to the Mid-Summer Classic since the Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins in 1972.”

Continuing the pattern of distinguishing Dempster’s successes as a Canuck, he is also listed as the third Canadian-born hurler in MLB history to record three 15-win seasons. In addition, he ranks second among Canadian-born pitchers with 2078 career innings pitched, 299 starts and 112 wins, behind Jenkins of course.

“I have a long way to go before I can catch up,” Dempster said last season of the Cubs legend. “But he’s just a great guy to be grouped with.”

The bobblehead box also lets Cubs fans know that Dempster struck out the side in the ninth inning of the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, is one of two of the only active pitchers with at least 100 career victories and at least 85 saves, and he was the Chicago organization’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente award in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

The native of Gibsons, B.C., is a regular candidate for community-based awards such as the Clemente honour, which is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”

Dempster is known around the clubhouse as one of the nicest, most friendly and accommodating guys, both by teammates and media. His approachable and sociable demeanour makes him engaging and just enjoyable to be around, one reason the other guys on the roster are willing to do anything for the pitcher.

Having a guy like the Canadian hurler around makes it easy on team personnel as well. Often, teams have to find players to make presentations, shake hands and smile for cameras. On the days when he isn’t taking the mound for the Cubs, Dempster can be found doing just that, as he did before Wednesday’s afternoon matchup.

As the Chicago club honoured Atlanta third baseman and 19-year veteran Chipper Jones, Dempster was the man handing over the Braves banner that has hung for years over the Wrigley Field scoreboard, a gesture by the Cubs to the future Hall of Famer.

And on Wednesday evening, to cap off the big week, the 35-year-old hosted the third annual Dempster Foundation Casino Night at Palmer House Hilton hotel. The Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation supports the awareness and assistance of 22q11.2 deletion, also known as DiGeorge Syndrome. The Cubs pitcher and his wife know firsthand about dealing with the disease because their daughter Riley is inflicted with it.

The casino night was considered a success, raising funds and awareness, and, much to the surprise of many, Dempster was able to convince all of his teammates to attend and help out. All of them.

Often, team events feature appearances from a few key players showing their faces and signing some autographs for the crowd. But, being the guy that Dempster is, he extended the invitation for the evening to the entire Chicago Cubs roster, and all of them showed up, donned tuxedos, and were ready to deal cards.

If only Dempster had the same support on the field, he might be a perfect 5-0 right now instead of 0-1. Through five starts, the right-hander has posted a 1.02 ERA in 35 1/3 innings with 36 strikeouts, but has been the beneficiary of only four total runs of support.

While the Canuck had a huge week to start off the second month of the season, there are at least four months left to play, plenty more support to be given, and more bobbleheads to hand out at Wrigley Field.

Alexis Brudnicki
Baseball has been a part of Alexis' life since her parents took her brother to sign up for Eager Beaver Baseball in London. Alexis wanted to play and asked to sign up, too. Alexis played ball until the boys were all twice her size and then switched to competitive fastball. Her first job was as an umpire for rookies with the EBBA and since then Alexis has completed her education with an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and graduate studies in Sports Journalism at Centennial College

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