HR trivia time on home and native land

by on January 23, 2013

Brett Lawrie 3

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* Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) is the answer to one home run trivia question ….

2012 Most Influential Canadians
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2013 Canadians in College 
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2012-13 Canadians at Canadian schools

 

By David Matchett

And now some Horsehide Trivia …

 

Q.     Who was the first player to hit a grand slam in his first home game as a Yankee?

Hint:   He set the Major League record for the most consecutive games played at the start of a career.

Hint:   The streak was ended by an injury sustained in a game that didn’t count in the streak.

Hint:   He was nicknamed after a huge movie star of the 1950s and 1960s.

Hint:   For most of his career he wore a number in honour of professional baseball’s all-time home run king.

Twint:  He announced his retirement just this past weekend.

A.     Hideki Matsui.

 

Q.     Who hit the second of the Yankees’ record breaking three grand slams Aug. 25, 2011?

Hint:   He spent part of his childhood in Paris.

Hint:   He was named after a bebop legend.

Hint:   He honoured his mother on his jersey.

Twint:  He had a custom mouthpiece created to help stop his chewing tobacco habit.

A.     Russell Martin

Q.     Who ended Ichiro Suzuki’s eleven-year streak of leading the Seattle Mariners in stolen bases?

Hint:   He’s known as “The Condor”.

Hint:   He has used a 60-ounce bat in batting practice.

Twint:  He was his team’s right fielder at the Beijing Olympics.

Twint:  This is a position he rarely plays in the majors.

A.     Michael Saunders

 

Q.     Who was the last player to hit a grand slam in a game in which he hit for the cycle?

Hint:   Despite being on the losing team of the 2010 World Series he still received a championship ring.

Hint:   He and his brother were teammates in another World Series.

Hint:   He won two gold gloves, only second best within his family.

Twint:  Not exactly a speedster, he once hit a home run and was pinch run for before he made it to second base.

A.     Bengie Molina

 

Q.     Who was his team’s starting pitcher in an upset win over the USA at a World Baseball Classic?

Hint:   His first four major league starts were against former Cy Young award winners.

Hint:   That year he also started against three additional pitchers who each eventually won 200 games.

Hint:   Despite the stiff competition he still finished his rookie season with a .500 record.

Twint:  Stan the Man and The Babe are good role models for him.

A.     Adam Loewen

 

Q.     Who has the highest career slugging percentage in the expansion era for players under 5’10” tall (minimum 500 plate appearances)?

Hint:   At the time of his retirement he was the National League’s oldest player.

Hint:   He hit home runs for 11 different franchises, but he didn’t homer for the teams for whom he played his first and last games.

Twint:  While still an active major leaguer he was a hockey coach in the off season.

A.     Matt Stairs

 

Q.     Who was the last National League second baseman to hit more than fifty doubles in a season?

Hint:   He was the “batting star” on the losing side of David Cone’s perfect game.

Hint:   He was Washington’s first second baseman after Tom Ragland.

Hint:   He was the last Montreal Expo to start an all star game.

Twint:  He is the Montreal Expos’ all-time leader for second basemen in games played, plate appearance, at bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, extra base hits, RBIs, walks, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, runs created and WAR, most by a very large margin.

A.     Jose Vidro

 

Q.     Excluding active players, who is the only non-Hall of Famer with a career batting average over .300 with more than 200 home runs and over 200 stolen bases?

Hint:   He has the highest career on base plus slugging percentage of anyone who completed this trifecta.

Hint:   In addition to his hitting prowess he was good on defence, winning seven Gold Gloves.

Twint:  He was driven home by the double Gary Carter hit in Carter’s last career at bat.

Twint:  This was the only run in a 1-0 victory.

A.     Larry Walker

 

Q.     Which former major leaguer is now a coach for the Delfines de Ciudad Del Carmen in the Mexican League?

Hint:   He played professional baseball in three different countries in cities that each hosted the Olympics.

Hint:   He also played in the Olympics, three years after his last major league game.

Hint:   His first major league home run tied a long-standing record.

Twint:  He was traded twice within two weeks by the same two teams.

A.     Rob Ducey

 

Q.     Who holds the major league record for the most home runs in a season by a catcher?

Hint:   He is one of only two players to have as many as 75 extra base hits in a season when his primary position was catcher.

Hint:   He was the last player to have an OPS over 1.000 in a season in which he caught at least 120 games.

Hint:   He received only one Hall of Fame vote despite having a higher career Wins Above Replacement total than four HOF catchers.

Twint:  He was a NL Championship Series MVP, leading his team back from a 3-1 games deficit by hitting .542 with a 1.607 OPS.

A.     Javy Lopez

 

Q.     Who replaced Barry Larkin as the Cincinnati Reds’ starting shortstop?

Hint:   He was certainly Larkin-like that season.

Hint:   He and a teammate are the only National League duet to each hit switch-hit home runs in the same game.

Hint:   Normally a position player, he once pitched with his team locked in a 0-0 tie.

Twint:  He switched teams in mid-season in each of his last four campaigns, and in five of his last six years.

A.     Felipe Lopez

 

Q.     Who, until 2012, had been the only player ever to hit home runs off two pitchers who threw perfect games that same season?

Hint:   He won the 2008 All Star Game Home Run derby at Yankee stadium.

Hint:   In the next day’s All Star Game he scored the winning run in an extra inning, walk-off victory.

Hint:   He was the last major leaguer to play in more than 162 games in a season.

Twint:  He won a league MVP award despite only leading his league at his position in two categories: sacrifice flies and assists.

Twint:  He switched his uniform number to have the same one as his boyhood hero, who played another sport.

A.     Justin Morneau

 

Q.     Who was the 50th major leaguer to homer in his first at bat?

Hint:   He also homered in his last major league game.

Hint:   He co-authored a fitness book with an admitted steroid user.

Hint:   He spent over a quarter century working for the same manager.

Twint:  He was the Blue Jays’ first third baseman.

A.     Dave McKay

 

Q.     Who is the only outfielder to accumulate 1,000 career plate appearances and not hit a triple?

Hint:   But he did hit a major league inside-the-park home run.

Hint:   …and he hit a triple in a World Baseball Classic.

Hint:   He introduced The Tragically Hip to Tokyo.

Twint:  He was the second native of British Columbia, after Larry Walker, to hit at least 10 home runs in a season.

A.     Aaron Guiel

 

Q.     Who is the only major leaguer with a batting average over .300, an on base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage over .500 in each of the last four seasons, minimum one (1) at bat per year?

Hint:   One season he led the major leagues in on base percentage despite needing to have 27 hitless at bats added to his totals to qualify for the title.

Hint:   He was the first first baseman in his franchise’s history to walk over 100 times in a season, and it’s an old franchise.

Hint:   It was also the highest single season walk total for a Canadian-born player, breaking a record that had stood since 1919.

Twint:  He went to the same high school as did the Prime Minister of Canada.

A.     Joey Votto

 

Q.     Who has the highest career home run total for a player who never hit a triple?

Hint:   He was traded to bring Broadway to New York.

Hint:   He caught a perfect game the first time he and the pitcher were teamed up as battery mates.

Hint:   But there was no enduring magic because the next time they hooked up the pitcher surrendered 12 hits and 7 earned runs in 4.1 innings.

Twint:  Reports of his Blue Jays’ career were wildly exaggerated.

A.     Ramon Castro

 

Q.     Who was the first American League third baseman to have a season with 25 home runs, 25 steals, 100 runs and 100 RBIs?

Hint:   He replaced the 2002 Rookie of the Year in his team’s line up.

Hint:   He was later replaced by the 2002 World Series MVP.

Hint:   His bobblehead promotion had to be cancelled after he was traded.

Twint:  Reed Johnson’s bobblehead pinch hit for him.

A.     Corey Koskie

 

Q.     Who is the current baseball coach at the University of Houston–Victoria?

Hint:   Five of his first thirteen home runs were hit off pitches who each eventually won 300 games.

Hint:   He and Dave Concepcion were the only 1978 National League All Stars not born in the USA.

Hint:   It was the only time he was an All Star and …

Twint:  Sadly, he didn’t get into the game.

A.     Terry Puhl

 

Q.     Who was traded three times before winning the Rookie of the Year Award?

Hint:   He is the last player to drive in eight runs in a game that his team lost.

Hint:   All eight RBIs came off the same pitcher.

Hint:   A wild pitch probably prevented him from driving in a ninth run that day.

Twint:  He replaced Manny.

A.     Jason Bay

 

Q.     Who was the first player after Walt Dropo in 1950 to have a season with at least 120 games played and more than one RBI per game?

Hint:   He was also the second to do so, and missed by three RBI doing it for three consecutive seasons.

Hint:   He won two MVP awards despite only having the league’s 44th and 26th highest Wins Above Replacement totals in those respective seasons.

Twint:  He was the brother-in-law of someone else in this week’s quiz.

Twint:  He took his nickname from professional wrestling, not the horror movies.

A.     Juan Gonzalez

 

Q.     Who was left stranded on second base, representing the tying run, at the conclusion of Canada’s 6-5 loss to the USA at the 2009 World Baseball Classic?

Hint:   He was the highest drafted Canadian-born position player.

Hint:   His sister was the 2009 and 2010 NCAA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year.

Hint:   One Canadian-born General Manager acquired him from another Canadian GM.

Twint:  He joined another player from this list the first time the Toronto Blue Jays had two Canadian-born position players in the same starting line up.

A.     Brett Lawrie

 

THEME – Players born outside the USA who have hit regular season major league home runs in their countries of birth:

 

Player Country City

Bay Canada Trail, BC

Castro Puerto Rico Vega Baja

Ducey Canada Toronto, ON

Guiel Canada Vancouver, BC

Koskie Canada Anola, MB

 

Lawrie Canada Langley, BC

Loewen Canada Surrey, BC

Lopez Puerto Rico Ponce

Martin Canada East York, ON

Matsui Japan Ishikawa

 

McKay Canada Vancouver, BC

Molina Puerto Rico Rio Piedras

Morneau Canada New Westminster, BC

Puhl Canada Melville, SK

Saunders Canada Victoria, BC

 

Stairs Canada St. John, NB

Vidro Puerto Rico Mayaguez

Votto Canada Toronto, BC

Walker Canada Maple Ridge, BC

 

Hideki Matsui

Matsui was signed by the Yankees in December 2002 after playing 10 seasons in Japan. The Bombers started 2003 with a six-game road trip through Toronto and Tampa before Matsui made his Yankee Stadium debut. After a ground out and a walk he batted in the fifth inning. An intentional walk to Bernie Williams that loaded the bases with one away proved unsuccessful when Matsui homered to right on a 3-2 pitch from Joe Mays for his first Major League home run, a grand slam that gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead. The second paragraph of this story confirms Matsui as the first Yankee to hit a salami in his home debut.

He set the Major League record for the most consecutive games played at the start of a career.

Matsui played in 518 straight games to start his major league career to set a record, confirmed by SABR’s Baseball Records Committee set in 2006.

The streak was ended by an injury sustained in a game that didn’t count in the streak. The rules for these streaks are listed at this site under “Determining player performance streaks” …. “A consecutive-game playing streak shall be extended if the player plays one half-inning on defense or if he completes a time at bat by reaching base or being put out. A pinch-running appearance only shall not extend the streak. If an umpire ejects a player from a game before he can comply with the requirements of this rule [10.23(c)], his streak shall continue.”

On May 11, 2006, after Kevin Youkilis lead off the top of the first by reaching on an error, Mark Loretta blooped a ball to left and Matsui broke his wrist in an unsuccessful attempt to make the catch. Since Matsui’s injury took him out of the game in the top of the first inning before three outs were recorded and before he came to bat this 519th game didn’t count in the streak.

He was nicknamed after a huge movie star of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Matsui’s nickname is Godzilla. Godzilla first appeared in the movies in 1954 and he was pretty huge, ranging in stature from 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet), as listed in the IMDb.

The nickname was given to Matsui because of skin problems he suffered as a child and not his own large stature.

The two Godzillas once shared the silver screen. Matsui had a cameo in 2002’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Gojira tai Makegojira).

For most of his career he wore a number in honour of professional baseball’s all-time home run king. “Matsui was given uniform number 55, highly symbolic in that it stood for the single-season home run record held by Sadaharu Oh, a mark that everyone fully expected Matsui to challenge one day.” Robert Whiting, The Samurai Way of Baseball, (2004), p. 235.

Matsui wore 55 while playing in Japan then with the Yankees, Angels and Athletics. When he joined Tampa in 2012, 55 was already taken by Matt Moore so he wore 35 instead.

Oh hit 868 regular season home runs in Japan.

This is generally considered to be the professional record although Josh Gibson is credited with “over 800” in the Negro Leagues.

Barry Bonds (762 regular season home runs, nine in the post season and another 20 in the minor leagues for a total of 791) and Hank Aaron (755 regular season, six post season and 31 minor league for 792 total plus whatever he hit in his three months with Indianapolis in the Negro Leagues in 1952) are Oh’s closest competition for the professional record.

 

Russell Martin

The Yankees set a record that day, becoming the first major league team to hit three grand slams in one game. Robinson Cano hit the first one in the fifth inning off the A’s Rich Harden and Fautino de los Santos surrendered Martin’s in the sixth. Curtis Granderson hit the team’s third in the eighth inning off Bruce Billings in a Yankees’ 22-7 victory.

Martin went 5-for-5 with two homers and a double, driving in six and scoring three. The Yankees had 16 plate appearances with the bases loaded that day. Besides the three home runs they hit three singles, had two walks and hit a sacrifice fly while making seven other outs. In total the Yankees had 21 hits, 13 walks and 1 hit batter. It was only the ninth game in the expansion era in which a team had 35 or more base runners in a nine inning game. 

The list of other games with 35 base runners can be found on Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index, Team Batting Game Finder, searching for Times on Base without reaching on error and filtering for games with nine innings or less.

His full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin Jr., and his fourth name is in honour of saxophonist John Coltrane. His father Russell Martin is a saxophone player, who brought his young child to  Paris. 

In 2009 he added the letter “J” to his jersey, J. Martin, in honour of his mother, Suzanne Jeanson.

Martin started wearing a mouthpiece at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

 

Michael Saunders

Beginning with his first year in the American League in 2001, Ichiro lead the Mariners in steals outright nine times and tied for the team lead twice: with Mike Cameron in 2002 and Chone Figgins in 2010. Ichiro had stolen 15 bases and was leading the team when he was traded to the Yankees on July 23, 2012 but Saunders was right behind him with 14. He caught up by mid-August and ended the year with 21 stolen bases. No other Mariner stole more than 13.

 

He’s known as “The Condor”. Mariners’ play-by-play man Dave Sims gave Saunders the nickname. http://fanhub.me/people/detail/2953/Michael-Saunders

 

Saunders used an extra-heavy bat during 2012 training camp to help speed up his swing. Here is a link to a video showing the bat in action: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/marinersblog/2017512979_watch_michael_saunders_swing_h.html

 

Saunders played full games in right field in six of team Canada’s seven games in Beijing. In the other game he split time between right and center fields. Here is his game-by-game record from Beijing: http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/sa/mike-saunders-1.html

 

Before Ichiro was traded to the Yankees Saunders had never played a major league game in right field. Through 2012 he has played 173 games in center field, 150 in left and only 5 games in right field. His first game in right field was on August 31, 2012, the 321st game of his career. Saunders’ fielding records can be found on his Baseball Reference player page:

 

Adam Loewen

Loewen started and pitched into the fourth inning of Canada’s 8-6 win over the USA on March 8, 2006. Here is a recap of the game; Loewen’s start is mentioned about half way through the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/09/sports/sportsspecial/09usa.html

 

Loewen’s first two major league appearances were in relief, including the game that was Jered Weaver’s debut on May 27, 2006. He moved to the Orioles’ starting rotation in June and matched up against former Cy Young winners Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay (two games) and Tom Glavine on June 3, 8, 13, 18 2006. Loewen went 0-2 with a 7.40 ERA while pitching 20.2 innings in these four games.

 

Loewen also started against Mike Mussina (Aug. 5, Mussina took the loss that day, coming in with 237 of his 270 wins), David Wells (Aug. 11, with Wells getting the 228th of his 239 wins) and Tim Wakefield (Sept. 30, Wakefield took a no decision after coming into the game with 151 of his 200 wins).

 

Loewen finished 2006 with a 6-6 record in 19 starts and three relief appearances. He was 1-3 with 3 no decisions in his 7 starts against the Cy Young recipients and 200-game winners and he went 5-3 against the rest of the field. Here is Loewen’s game log from 2006: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=loewead01&t=p&year=2006

 

Loewen was a first round draft choice and made it to the big leagues as a starting pitcher but several stress fractures forced him to give up his mound duties. He signed with the Blue Jays then returned to the low minors to try to become an outfielder. He achieved his goal and made it back to the majors on 07-Sep-2011 when he was the Blue Jays’ starting right fielder:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TOR/TOR201109070.shtml

 

Like Loewen Stan Musial and Babe Ruth started their pro careers as pitchers and later converted to the outfield. Ruth’s early pitching prowess is well documented. Musial was exclusively a pitcher in 1938 and 1939 before splitting 1940 between the mound (18-5, 2.62 ERA in 223 innings) and the outfield (57 games, .311 batting average). Here is Musial’s minor league record: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=musial001sta

 

Matt Stairs

Stairs (5’9” – .47675) beat Kirby Puckett (5’8” – .47667) by a narrow margin. If Puckett had had one more total base or Stairs had had one more unsuccessful at bat they would have switched positions. Ivan Rodriquez, Dustin Pedroia and Miguel Tejada are next on the list. Stairs has the eighth highest slugging percentage all time for shorter players. Hack Wilson (.545), Earl Averill (.534) and Mel Ott (.533) are the top three.

 

Stairs was the oldest National Leaguer in 2011 but American Leaguers Tim Wakefield and Omar Vizquel were the oldest major leaguers. In 2010 National League pitchers Jamie Moyer and Trevor Hoffman were older than Stairs. In 2009 pitchers Moyer, Hoffman, Randy Johnson, Doug Brocail, John Smoltz and Tom Gordon were older, but no position players were older.

 

Stairs hit home runs for Boston (1), Oakland (122), Chicago Cubs (17), Milwaukee (16), Pittsburgh (20), Kansas City (39), Texas (3), Detroit (2), Toronto (32), Philadelphia (7) and San Diego (6).

 

Stairs debuted as a Montreal Expo (no home runs in 19 games in 1992 and 1993) and finished up as a Washington National (none in 56 games in 2011).

 

Stairs was the assistant hockey coach at Bangor, Maine’s John Bapst High School. http://bangordailynews.com/2008/11/26/sports/world-title-changes-stairsamprsquo-life/

 

Jose Vidro

Vidro hit 51 doubles in 2000, just after Craig Biggio’s back-to-back seasons of 50+ in 1998 and 1999. Since then Brian Roberts has accomplished this feat three times and Alfonso Soriano and Dustin Pedroia once each in the American League. Vidro didn’t play any other positions in 2000 nor did he ever pinch hit or DH so all 51 doubles came while in the lineup as a second baseman. This was found with the Baseball-Reference Play Index sorting by doubles for players with at least 75% of their games at second base.

 

Vidro was the only Expos’ starter who didn’t strike out in Cone’s perfecto. No Expo ran the count to three balls and only five at bats resulted in Cone throwing as many as two balls; Vidro was involved in two of those at bats with three other batters doing it once each.

 

Ragland was the second baseman for the Senators on Sept. 30, 1971 in their last game before moving to Texas. Vidro was the National’s second baseman on April 4, 2005 in their first game after moving from Montreal.

 

Vidro started the 2003 All Star Game, playing second base and batting ninth. He struck out twice before being replaced by Luis Castillo in the bottom of the fifth inning. Fellow Expo Rondell White later appeared as a pinch hitter, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play while batting for Barry Bonds. Livan Hernandez was the only Expo All Star in their final season of 2004 but he didn’t get into the All Star game.

 

Vidro is eighth in triples (Delino DeShields leads), second in strikeouts (DeShields), 3rd in hit by pitch (Ron Hunt), 6th in sacrifices (Hunt), 11th in steals (DeShields), 8th in caught stealing (DeShields) and 3rd in on base percentage (Hunt).

 

This was found with the Baseball-Reference Play Index sorting by various categories for Montreal Expos second basemen from 1969 through 2004.

 

Larry Walker

Walker retired with a .313 average, 383 home runs and 230 stolen bases. This combination was also accomplished by Hall of Famers Paul Molitor (.306/234/504), George Brett (.305/317/201), Hank Aaron (.305/755/240), Willie Mays (.302/660/338) and Roberto Alomar (.30023/210/474). Alex Rodriguez (.30025/647/318) and Derek Jeter (.313/255/348) are the active players who have also done this, although A-Rod is barely above the mark in batting average and if 2013 is similar to 2012 he’ll drop off the list. Barry Bonds (.298 batting average), Jeff Bagwell (.297) and Barry Larkin (.295 and 198 home runs) just missed making it.

 

Walker accomplished this in far fewer plate appearances than anyone else. He only batted 8,030 times, over 2,000 times fewer than the next lowest total of 10,400 by Alomar. Walker’s OPS was .965. Next on the list is A-Rod at .945 through 2012 then Mays (.941) and Aaron (.928). If Bonds had been able to lift his final batting average by two points his career OPS of 1.051 would have been the best.

 

Walker won National League Gold Gloves as an outfielder in 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002. http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/gold_glove_nl.shtml

 

Here is the box score and play-by-play from the Montreal Expos’ 1-0 win over the Cubs on Sept. 27, 1992. This was the Expos’ last home game of the season and it was the last game for Gary Carter. After a ground out and a strike out in his first two plate appearances, Carter came up in the seventh inning following a two-out walk to Larry Walker. Mike Morgan got ahead 0-2 then Carter hit a double to right/centre field. Walker scored, Carter doffed his hat and backup catcher Tim Laker came in to pinch run, ending Carter’s Hall of Fame career.

 

Rob Ducey

Ducey joined the Delphines’ (Dolphins) coaching staff for their inaugural season in the Mexican League in 2012. Fellow major league alumnus Felix Fermin, the manager, and Jose Escobar, the third base coach, are also on the staff. Here is a link to the Dolphins’ roster from their website: http://www.delfinesdelcarmen.com/index.php/roster

 

Four Major League cities have hosted the Summer Olympics: St. Louis (1904), Los Angeles (1932 and 1984), Montreal (1976) and Atlanta (1996). Minor League cities Calgary (1988), Salt Lake City (2002) and Vancouver (2010) hosted Winter Olympics. Tokyo (1964), Mexico City (1968) and Seoul (1988) hosted Summer Games and Sapporo (1972) the Winter Olympics and all are home to professional baseball teams. LA, Montreal and Atlanta also had minor league franchises before getting Major League teams.

 

Ducey played for the Montreal Expos in 2001. Earlier in his career he spent two years in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Sapporo. Ducey also spent part of the 1992 season with the California (now Los Angeles) Angels, who play in Anaheim. Although Anaheim is separate from Los Angeles, the Anaheim Arena did host the wrestling competition in the LA games of 1984.

 

Pitcher Elias Sosa is the only player to have appeared for Major League teams in all four of the Summer Olympic cities. If we include the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels we can add Andres Galarraga to the list, with special bonus points for his two seasons with the Calgary Expos at the start of his minor league career.

 

There are other players who also appeared for teams in Olympic cities in three or more countries and this clue isn’t meant to imply that Ducey was the first or only player to accomplish this. Another player who did it is Denny Gonzalez who played for the AAA Vancouver Canadians in 1987, the Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants of the Japan Central League in 1991 and the Mexico City Reds of the Mexican League in 1994. Here is his Minor League record: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=gonzal001den

 

A case could be made for Julio Franco doing this in four countries. He played with the Atlanta Braves for six seasons, the Mexico City Tigers in 1999 and 2001, the Chiba Lotte Orions in 1995 and 1998 (Chiba City is 25 miles from Tokyo, as close as Anaheim is to Los Angeles) and the Samsung Lions from Daegu in the Korean Baseball Organization (150 miles from Seoul but host to some preliminary soccer matches in 1988). Here is a link for more information on the Daegu stadium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daegu_Civil_Stadium

 

Ducey pinch hit in one game and was the designated hitter in two others for team Canada at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, at age 39. Here is his record from those games: http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/du/rob-ducey-1.html

 

On Sept. 14, 1987, Ducey’s first career home run was the Blue Jays’ eighth home run of the game, tying a single game team record first set by the Yankees on June 28, 1939 and matched 6 times leading up to this game. Three batters later Ernie Whitt hit the Jays’ record-breaking ninth home run of the game and Fred McGriff hit number ten in the next inning, a record that still stands. No other team has even hit nine.

 

On July 26 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies traded Ducey to Toronto for John Sneed then on Aug. 7, Toronto sent him back to the Phillies for Mickey Morandini. These transactions are shown on this site on the dates July 26 (Ducey to Toronto), July 31 (Sneed to Philadelphia), Aug. 4 (Ducey designated for assignment to make room for newly acquired Dave Martinez), Aug. 6 (Morandini to Toronto), Aug. 7 (Ducey back to Philadelphia): http://www.oocities.org/blue_jay_fan88/transactions.html.

Jayson Stark wrote an entertaining article reviewing the transactions: http://assets.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/stark_jayson/679879.html

 

Javy Lopez

Lopez hit 43 home runs in 2003, one coming as a pinch hitter and 42 as a catcher. Johnny Bench hit 45 homers in 1970 but only 38 came when he was in the lineup as a catcher, the others came when he was in the game as an outfielder or at first base.

The previous record was the 41 homers hit by Todd Hundley in 1996. All 41 were hit while he was in the game as a catcher. Mike Piazza (40, all as a catcher, in both 1997 and 1999) and Roy Campanella (40 as a catcher and 1 as a pinch hitter in 1953) are the only other catchers to break 40 in a season. In Bench’s other 40-home run season in 1972 only 34 of his 40 homers came while he was in the game as the Reds’ catcher.

This was found with the Baseball-Reference Play Index sorting by Home Runs by players catching at east 50% of their games. Each player’s Game Log was then reviewed to see home many of the homers were hit as a catcher.

Lopez had 29 doubles, 3 triples and 43 home runs in 2003 while catching 120 games. Bench had 84 extra base hits (35 doubles, 4 triples and 45 home runs) in 1970 while catching 139 games. The only other player to have 75 extra base hits in a season in which he caught even one game was Jimmie Foxx, with 76 in 1935, a season in which we was behind the plate for 26 of his 147 games. This was found with the Baseball-Reference Play Index sorting by extra base hits by players catching a minimum of 1 game.

Lopez caught in 120 of his 129 games played in 2003 and had an OPS of 1.065. Piazza (1997 and 2000), Chris Hoiles (1993) and Hall of Famers Campanella (1953) and Gabby Hartnett (1930) are the only other catchers to accomplish this. Note that in 2009 Joe Mauer had an OPS of 1.031 but he only caught 109 games. He was either the DH or a pinch hitter in his other 29 games. This was found with the Baseball-Reference Play Index sorting by OPS by players catching a minimum of 120 games.

Lopez has a career WAR total of 27.2, more than HOF catchers Rick Farrell (26.3), Ray Schalk (25.0), Al Lopez (14.5) and Wilbert Robinson (11.5), although these last two were almost certainly enshrined for their managerial prowess. Found with Baseball-Reference Play Index sorting by WAR for Hall of Famers.

 

Felipe Lopez

Barry Larkin retired after the 2004 season having playing in 111 games at shortstop that year. Lopez had been a backup for the Reds in 2003 (50 games at short including 42 starts) and in 2004 (51 games at short, 42 starts). He then played 140 games at short in 2005, starting in 133 of them. Lopez’s career statistics.

In his first season as a regular Lopez had a slash line of 291/352/486 with 23 home runs, 85 RBIs, 97 runs scored, an All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger Award—by far his best season.

On April 6, 2009 Lopez and Tony Clark accomplished this for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada also did it for the Yankees on April 23, 2000. 

Lopez did this in his first and third at bats as a Diamondback and they were two of the six home runs he hit in 394 plate appearances over 85 games before he was traded to Milwaukee in July of that year.

On April 17, 2010 the Mets and the Cardinals played a 20-inning game that was tied 0-0 going into the 18th inning. Lopez had started the game at shortstop for the Cards then he moved to third base in the eighth inning as part of a double switch. After 17 innings, manager Tony LaRussa had used seven relievers for a total of 10 innings and was forced to start sending position players to the mound.

Lopez started the 18th by getting Henry Blanco to pop up before pitcher Raul Valdes singled. Fortunately for Lopez’ ERA, Valdes was gunned down trying to stretch the hit into a double. Lopez followed this by walking Angel Pagan before ending a scoreless inning by getting Mike Jacobs to fly out to right.

Lopez would have been the winning pitcher if the Cards had scored in the bottom of the 18th, but they didn’t. Lopez moved back to third base for the 19th inning and Joe Mather moved from third base to the mound. Mather surrendered a run but the Cards answered in the bottom of the inning. Mather then gave up another run in the 20th and the Mets won the game when the Cards were held scoreless in the bottom half.

Lopez travelled a lot in his career. He came up through the Blue Jays’ system and played parts of 2001 and 2002 in Toronto. After 2002 he moved to the Reds as part of a four-team transaction and spent the next three seasons in Cincinnati before he started to move around. Here are his stops during the rest of his career:

2006 – Cincinnati (85 games) and Washington (71)

2007 – Washington (154)

2008 – Washington (100) and St. Louis (43)

2009 – Arizona (85) and Milwaukee (66)

2010 – St. Louis (109) and Boston (4)

2011 – Tampa (32) and Milwaukee (16)

 

Justin Morneau

In 2010, Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay each threw perfect games, on May 9 and May 29 respectively. Morneau homered off Braden on June 4 and off Halladay on June 20. Amazingly, this feat was repeated twice in 2012—and by teammates no less: Philip Humber tossed history’s (now) most hidden perfecto on April 21. Felix Hernandez duplicated the feat in the same ballpark on Aug. 15. Hitting home run in the same season off each of these hurlers were Angels Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. They both went deep on Humber on Aug. 3 and then went long individually on Hernandez on May 26 and Aug. 10.

Josh Hamilton set a Home Run Derby record in 2008 with 28 home runs in the first round but Morneau outdueled him in the final 5-3.

Morneau entered the 2008 AS game in the sixth inning, replacing starter Kevin Youkilis and he played the rest of the game at first base. He led off the bottom of the 15th inning with a single, went to second on Dioner Navarro’s one-out single, to third on J.D. Drew’s walk and scored on Michael Young’s sacrifice fly.

Morneau played in 163 games in 2008, including a one game playoff with Chicago for the AL Central championship.

Since expansion extended the season from 154 to 162 games there have been 33 instances of a player appearing in 163 or more games in a season. Some are because of a playoff (Tommy Davis, Maury Wills and Jose Pagan in 1962), a team having a tie game (Hideki Matsui with the Yankees in 2003) or a player changing teams mid-season and joining one that had played fewer games than the team he left (Todd Zeile in 1996). This is becoming rarer: it happened 17 times in the 1960’s, fives times in the 70’s and six times in the 80’s but only five times since 1990.

In 2006 Morneau lead the American League with 11 sacrifice flies and 111 assists at first base. He also had top five finishes in total bases (fifth), RBI (second), putouts (third) games at first base (second). He won a very close MVP race over Derek Jeter.  

Morneau wore 27 in his first three years then changed to 33 after the Twins traded J.C. Romero to the Angels at the end of 2005. 33 was the number worn by Patrick Roy, Hall of Fame goalie for the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. In addition to being a baseball player Morneau was a goaltender for his hockey teams, including being the third string goalie for the 1998 Memorial Cup champions Portland Winter Hawks. 

 

Dave McKay

On Aug. 22, 1975, against Vern Ruhle and the Tigers, Minnesota’s Dave McKay led off the bottom of the third inning with a home run in his first career at bat. This was the first of 21 homers he would hit in over 2,000 plate appearance over eight major league seasons.

There are several sources listing players who hit a home run in their first at bat. Most include players who may have walked or were hit by a pitch in their first plate appearance then homered in their first official at bat. 

McKay hit a second inning home run on Oct. 3, 1982 for Oakland over Kansas City. Unfortunately for the symmetry of his career this was not his last at bat. He went 0-3 after the big fly.

Take a look at the cover of the book McKay co-authored with Jose Canseco: Strength Training for Baseball. Years later Canseco wrote another book called Juiced about his own steroid usage and how prevalent the drugs were in the 1980’s.

McKay was a coach with the Oakland A’s from 1984 to 1995. From 1986 through 1995 he served under A’s manager Tony LaRussa. When LaRussa moved to St. Louis for the 1996 season McKay went with him and stayed a Cardinals coach until LaRussa’s retirement following the 2011 season. In 2012 McKay joined the Cubs as their first base coach.

McKay was selected off the Twins’ roster in the 1976 AL expansion draft and started at third base, batting eighth, in the Blue Jays’ first game on April 7, 1977. He stayed in the starting lineup at that position for their first 30 games until the Blue Jays acquired Roy Howell from Texas on May 9. Howell was immediately made the new third baseman, McKay was installed at second base and Pedro Garcia, the original second baseman, was released.

 

Aaron Guiel

Guiel (Vancouver) hit 15 home runs in 2003 to join Larry Walker (Maple Ridge) as the second British Columbian to have a double-digit home run season. Walker had the first of his 15 seasons of 10 or more home runs in 1990. Two others joined the group in 2004: Jason Bay (Trail) hit 26 homers, the first of his seven seasons with at least 10, and Justin Morneau (New Westminster) hit 19, which was the first of his eight seasons of 10 or more home runs. Michael Saunders (Victoria) became the fifth player on the list in 2010 and had his second 10+ homer season in 2012. Brett Lawrie (Langley) is the newest member of this club, hitting 11 home runs in 2012.

Through the 2012 season, 13 players have come to the plate at least 1,000 times in their careers without hitting a triple. Most people on the list are pitchers and catchers. Guiel is the only one who played the majority of his games in the outfield. He got into 15 games at first base in his last season and he appeared in another 50 games as either a pinch hitter or DH but exactly 1,000 of his 1,099 career plate appearances were while he was in the game as an outfielder. (31 were as a first baseman, 30 as a pinch hitter and 38 as a DH). Guiel’s career statisticsHis batting splits, including plate appearance by defensive position.

Earl Averill was predominately a catcher but did play 73 games in the outfield, including 49 games with the Angels in 1962. He is the only player on this exclusive list other that Guiel to have appeared in the outfield.

Other players have had streaks of 1,000 plate appearances without a triple but they did manage to hit at least one at some point in their career. A notable example is Rod Barajas, who through 2012 has gone over 3,000 plate appearances since his lone triple on June 6, 2004. Outfielder Shelly Duncan is getting close to Guiel, having come to the plate 933 times through 2012 while still awaiting the arrival of his first triple,

Other non-triplers include third baseman Craig Worthington (1,423 plate appearances), first baseman Justin Smoak (1,421 PA through 2012 and still active), pitchers Gaylord Perry (1,220 PA), Whitey Ford (1,207), Tommy John (1,030) and Lefty Gomez (1,024), and catchers Johnny Estrada (2,244), Ramon Castro (1,603), Jason Phillips (1,537), Mark Parent (1,428), Sal Fasano (1,245) and Earl Averill (1,217). Kelly Shoppach was on this list until he hit his first career triple, in his 1,526th plate appearance, for the Red Sox on May 7, 2012. He then hit a second one on July 30.

Guiel hit 49 triples in over 7,000 plate appearances in the minors and Japan so his lack of a three base hit in the majors seems strange. Worthington, on the other hand, hit only 4 triples in the minor leagues in over 4,000 plate appearances and never had more than 1 in a season. Castro only hit 1 triple in over 2,700 minor league plate appearances and Perry (329 minor league plate appearances) and Ford (221) didn’t hit any in the minors either.

Guiel hit an inside the park home run on Aug. 3, 2003 versus Tampa. Based on the ESPN game recap it seems like the ball took an unusual bounce and eluded the outfielder long enough to allow Guiel to round the bases: “…Guiel made it 2-0 with one out in the third when his line drive hit the wall in the right-field corner and skipped past [Damian] Rolls. By the time Rolls tracked the ball down, Guiel was rounding third.”

None of the other players on the 1,000 plate appearance /0 triple list managed to hit an inside the parker, nor have Barajas or Duncan.

On March 8, 2006, Team Canada upset the USA 8-6 in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. Canada’s hitting star was Adam Stern, who had a single, triple, inside the park home run and four RBIs. Guiel joined Stern and second baseman Stubby Clapp as one of three Canadians to hit a triple off US starter Dontrelle Willis.

Guiel played in Japan from 2007 through 2011. His walk up music with the Yakult Swallows, who are based in Tokyo, was New Orleans is Sinking by The Tragically Hip.

 

Joey Votto

Votto’s 2012 averages were .337/.474/.567 in 475 plate appearances and he easily exceeded .300/.400/.500 in each season from 2009 to 2011.

Quite a few players have done this once in the last four years, many of them pitchers with a single hit in only one or two at bats. If the minimum number of plate appearance is reset to 502 Votto didn’t qualify in 2012 but he did meet the standards in each of the previous three years. Only two other players had two such seasons: Albert Pujols (2009, 2010) and Miguel Cabrera (2010, 2011). Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer and Kevin Youkilis (2009), Josh Hamilton (2010), Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Lance Berkman (2011), and Prince Fielder, Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey (2012) each did it once.

Reducing the criteria to 250 plate appearances per season gives Youkilis a second year on the list (2010) and adds Carlos Beltran (2009), Justin Morneau (2010), Mike Napoli (2011) and David Ortiz (2012). This is still quite an exclusive club.

Fielder just missed having two more .300/.400/.500 seasons (2009 and 2011) because of a .299 batting average each year. Cabrera missed in 2009 and 2012 with on base percentages of .396 and .393 respectively and Ryan Braun missed in 2011 and 2012 with OBPs of .397 and .391. Mike Trout (.399 OBP in 2012), Ortiz (.398 OBP in 2011), Matt Kemp (.399 OBP in 2011) and Ben Zobrist (.297 batting average in 2009) were also near misses.

If we reduce the criteria to just one plate appearance per year, Votto is still the only “four-peat”. The only other player with three similar seasons in the last four years is Rangers’ pitcher Alexi Ogando. He went 1-for-1 in 2010 and 1-for-2 in each of the last two seasons.

The only players who were active in 2012 and who have the .300/.400/.500 line for their careers are Chipper Jones, Todd Helton, Albert Pujols and Votto (minimum 1,000 career plate appearances). All time, only 23 players have achieved this over a career of at least 1,000 plate appearances. The Hall of Famers who accomplished this are Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Harry Heilmann, Ed Delahanty, Dan Brouthers and Hank Greenberg. In addition to the active players noted above, the Non-Hall of Famers to do this are Frank Thomas, Manny Ramirez, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Joe Jackson and Lefty O’Doul. (Reasonably elite club, I’d venture.)

Votto’s 2012 averages were .337/.474/.567 however he only had 475 plate appearances, 27 short of the minimum to qualify for the league titles. But, according to rule 10.22(a), “…any player with fewer than the required number of plate appearances whose average would be the highest, if he were charged with the required number of plate appearances shall be awarded the batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship, as the case may be.” Adding 27 hitless at bats to Votto’s totals brought his averages down to .314/.448/.529. These lower averages put him fifth in batting average and sixth in slugging percentage in the National League and the reduced on base percentage was still high enough to allow Votto to lead the National League for a third consecutive season. Buster Posey was the runner up with an OBP of .408 and Joe Mauer lead the American League at .416.

More information about the rule and Votto’s league leadership.

Votto walked 110 times in 2011, breaking the Cincinnati Reds’ team record for first basemen of 93 walks set by Dan Driessen in 1980. Votto’s 2012 total of 94 walks is the second highest for Reds’ first basemen. The Reds have been in existence since 1871.

Only second baseman Joe Morgan (six times) and outfielder Adam Dunn (four times) have had higher single season walk totals for the Reds. It should be noted that Dunn played 44 games at first base in 2002 (128 walks), 10 games in 2004 (108 walks), 33 games in 2005 (114 walks) and two games in 2006 (112 walks) but his primary position was in left field. Morgan never took the field as a first baseman. Johnny Bench walked 100 times in 1972, a season in which he played seven games at first base. No other Red player appeared in even a single game at first in a season in which he walked 100 times. Other than six games in left field in 2007 Votto has never played any position other than first base.

Votto, born in Toronto, broke the previous record for a Canadian of 105 walks, set by the Indians’ Jack Graney (St. Thomas, Ont.) in 1919. That broke Graney’s own record of 102 from 1916. George Selkirk of Huntsville, Ont. (103 in 1939) and Jason Bay of Trail, BC (102 in 2006) are the only other Canadians to crack 100 walks in a season.

Votto attended Richview Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Ont. In addition to current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper other alumni include NHL veteran Scott Mellanby and Bollywood actress Lisa Ray.

 

Ramon Castro

Castro retired after the 2011 season with 67 home runs and no triples, breaking the old record of 53 home runs without a triple held by Mark Parent since 1998. Only 12 players have hit as many as 30 career home runs without hitting a triple and the active leader is Justin Smoak with 47 home runs.

The New York Mets traded Castro, along with cash considerations to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Lance Broadway in May of 2009. It was a good deal for the Chisox since Castro was their backup catcher for the next two years whereas Broadway got into only 8 games for the Mets, pitching 14.2 innings with a 6.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.705 before he became a free agent after the season ended.

Castro became A.J. Pierzynski’s backup after the trade to Chicago, starting ten games through July 19. Jose Contreras was the starting pitcher in seven of those games with Clayton Richard, Bartolo Colon and Gavin Floyd starting the others. On July 23, Castro caught Mark Buehrle for the first time and Buehrle threw a perfect game, the first time Castro caught Buehrle.

Based on Buehrle’s game log on Baseball-Reference.com, Pierzynski caught his first start after the perfecto on July 29 then Castro caught the following game on Aug 2.

On Dec. 14, 2009 it was reported that Castro had signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays. This article points out that it seemed like a curious move since the Jays had already signed John Buck as a starter and Raul Chavez as the backup. 

On Dec. 30, 2009 it was then confirmed that this was in error and Castro was still a free agent. 

On January 12, 2010 reports came in that Castro had resigned with the White Sox. 

Castro then got into 37 games with the Sox in 2010, hitting .278 with 8 home runs and 21 RBIs. His .832 OPS was the third best of his career and in the top 10 that year among all players who caught at least 25 games.

 

Corey Koskie

This feat has been accomplished 58 times through 2012 by 37 different players. Barry Bonds is the record holder with seven 25/25, 100/100 seasons. It has been done six times by third basemen including 2001 by the Twins’ Koskie. That year he hit 26 home runs, stole 27 bases, scored 100 runs and drove in 103. This had been done previously by National League third basemen Howard Johnson (1989 and 1991), Jeff Bagwell (1997 and 1999) and Chipper Jones (1999). Alex Rodriguez became the second American League third baseman to do this in 2004 (after doing it as a shortstop in 1998) and David Wright did it for the Mets in 2007.

Koskie was the Blue Jays’ starting third baseman at the beginning of 2005 after Eric Hinske (AL Rookie of the Year in 2002) filled that role in 2002 through 2004. Hinske played first base and DH in 2005. Koskie only played 76 games at third base in 2005 due to injuries and DH duties but nobody else spent more time there than he did. Shea Hillenbrand played 52 games at third, Aaron Hill 35 and Frank Menechino nine.

In 2006 former World Series MVP Troy Glaus played 146 games at third for the Jays after Koskie had been traded.

 

Terry Puhl

Puhl has been the coach at UHV since January 2007.

Puhl homered off Tom Seaver (Puhl’s first), Gaylord Perry (twice), Phil Niekro and Don Sutton, all of whom eventually won 300 games and made it into the Hall of Fame.

Puhl is from Melville, Sask. and Concepcion was born in Venezuela. American League All Star Rod Carew, from Panama, was the only other non-American at the 1978 All Star game. This is the box score and play-by-play of the 1978 All Star game.

Johnny Bench, Jeff Burroughs and Puhl were the only National League position players named to the 1978 All Star team who didn’t play.

 

Jason Bay

Bay was drafted by the Expos in June 2000, traded to the Mets for Lou Collier in March 2002 then sent to the Padres in a five-player deal four months later. After getting into three games with the Padres in early 2003 he was traded to the Pirates with Oliver Perez for Brian Giles at the end of August and was Pittsburgh’s regular left fielder for the rest of the season. He won the Rookie of the Year award the following year.

Players have driven in eight or more runs in a game 130 times since 1919, including Texas’ Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton in 2012. In only four of those games was it done for the losing side: Lou Gehrig on Sept. 9, 1932 (G1) in a 14-13 loss to Detroit; Lee Thomas of the Angels in a 13-12 loss to the As on Sept. 5, 1961 (G2); Washington’s Mike Epstein on June 19, -1970 (G1) in a 12-10 loss to Baltimore; and Bay, on Sept. 19, 2003 (G1) in the 21st game of his career, a 10-9 loss to the Cubs. Interesting that three of these four came during double-headers.

Bay had another eight RBI game the next year, also in a double header on July 2, 2004 (G2) against the Brewers, making him one of only 11 players with multiple eight-RBI games.

Carlos Zambrano, who pitched 4.2 innings for the Cubs, surrendered all of the Pirates runs in a 10-9 Cubs’ victory. Bay’s big day started with a second inning grand slam to erase a 3-0 deficit, but Pirates pitchers couldn’t hold the lead and the Cubs scored six in the next half inning to take a 9-4 lead. Bay cut the deficit to 9-6 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and he tied the score with a two-run double in the fifth that knocked Zambrano out of the box. The Cubs retook the lead in the sixth inning and shut down the Pirates the rest of the way, including striking Bay out to end the seventh. Bay came to the plate in the fifth inning with two out and the bases loaded. On a 2-1 count Zambrano uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a run to score and moved the others runners up a base then Bay lined the next pitch for a two run double. Rob Mackowiak was the runner who moved from first to second on the wild pitch. He stole six bases and hit four triples in 193 plate appearance that year and had 13 steals and six triples as a regular the next season so he had the speed to potentially score from first on the double.

While this was one of the 130 games in which a player had at least eight RBI, the wild pitch may have prevented Bay from becoming one of only 33 players with at least nine RBI in a game.

On July 31, 2008 Bay was part of a three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and several players to Pittsburgh. He played left field for the Red Sox the next day and missed only three games the rest of the season.

Lou Piniella also was traded thrice before winning the ROY in 1969.

 

Juan Gonzalez

Gonzalez had 144 RBI in 134 games played in 1996. George Brett (118 RBI in 117 games in 1980), Jeff Bagwell (116 RBI in 110 games in 1994) and Kirby Puckett (112 RBI in 108 games in 1994) accomplished this while playing in fewer than 120 games before Gonzalez did it. Also in 1996 Ken Griffey, Jr. matched but didn’t exceed his games played with 140 RBI in 140 games.

Gonzalez had 157 RBI in 154 games in 1998 and fell just short in 1997 with 131 RBI in 133 games. Manny Ramirez is the only other player to do this since 1950, accumulating 165 RBI in 147 games in 1999. Sammy Sosa (160 RBI in 160 games in 2001) and Gonzalez again in 2001 (140 RBI in 140 games) are the only others to have their RBI totals match their games played while appearing in over 120 contests since Walt Dropo’s big year in 1950.

In 1996 Gonzalez had a WAR of 3.5, a total that was exceeded by 29 position players and 14 pitchers. Griffey (9.5), Alex Rodriguez (9.2), Chuck Knoblauch (8.4), Pat Hentgen (8.2), Roger Clemens (7.4) and Jim Thome (7.2) each had WAR figures that were more than double Gonzalez’. He was also beaten in WAR by his Texas Rangers teammates Ken Hill (6.3), Ivan Rodriguez (5.8), Rusty Greer (5.1) and Mark McLemore (4.0). Nevertheless, here are the results of the 1996 AL MVP vote. (Note that some players who did not receive any votes, and therefore are not on this list, had higher WAR totals than Gonzalez. Examples include Edgar Martinez (6.3), Hill and Greer.

In 1998 Gonzalez improved his WAR to 4.6 but was still beaten by 18 position players and 7 pitchers, including teammate Ivan Rodriguez (6.1). Here is the 1996 MVP vote.

Gonzalez’s best season in this category was in 1993, when he ranked seventh among position players and twelfth overall in Wins Above Replacement. Despite his gaudy offensive numbers Gonzalez’s career WAR of 35.1 puts him tied for 534th all time. Here is a list of the top 1,000 WAR totals through 2012.

Gonzalez was briefly married to volleyball star Elaine Lopez, sister of Javy Lopez. More information about Gonzalez’s marriages.

When Gonzalez was a child he liked wrestling, especially Igor the Magnificent, and as a nine-year-old he decided his friends should call him Igor, in the “Page 1: The Cover” section.

 

Brett Lawrie

On March 7, 2009, Team Canada was down by two runs entering the bottom of the ninth. After Adam Stern grounded out, Russell Martin and Joey Votto hit back-to-back doubles off J.J. Putz, cutting the USA’s lead to a single run. Justin Morneau then grounded out to short and manager Ernie Whitt sent 19-year-old Lawrie in to pinch run for Votto. Jason Bay ended the game with a fly ball to right field.

Lawrie didn’t play in Canada’s next game, a 6-2 loss to Italy that eliminated them from the tournament.

Lawrie was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft by the Brewers. This is the fourth highest a Canadian has ever been drafted, following pitchers Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis [fourth and ninth in 2002], and Phillippe Aumont [11th in 2007] and it’s the highest ever for a Canadian position player. The top Canadian-born draft picks. 

Danielle Lawrie won the awards while playing for the University of Washington as the pair took sibling rivalry to a new level.

Alex Anthopoulos (born in Montréal, Que.) of the Blue Jays acquired Lawrie from Milwaukee’s Doug Melvin (Chatham, Ont.) on Dec. 6, 2010. Here are more details on that transaction: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101206&content_id=16263712&vkey=news_tor&c_id=tor

On Sept. 7, 2011 Jose Bautista was given a rest and moved to DH with Loewen subbing for him in right field. With Lawrie in his usual position at third base the Jays had two Canadian-born players in the lineup for the first time in their history. Lawrie batted sixth and went 2 for 2 with a walk and a hit by pitch, scoring two runs and stealing a base. Loewen followed him in the order and went one for three, his first major league hit, was hit by a pitch and scored a run.

 

Through 2012 only 17 Canadians-born players have played for the Blue Jays:

Dave McKay 2B, 3B, SS, DH 1977-79

Paul Hodgson OF, DH 1980

Rob Ducey OF, DH 1987-92, 2000

Vince Horsman P 1991

Denis Boucher P 1991

 

Rob Butler OF 1993-94, 99

Paul Spoljaric P 1994-96, 97

Paul Quantrill P 1996-2001

Rich Butler OF, DH 1997

Steve Sinclair P 1998-99

 

Simon Pond OF, DH 2004

Corey Koskie 3B, DH 2005

Matt Stairs 1B, OF, DH 2007-08

Scott Richmond P 2008-09, 2011-12

Shawn Hill P 2010, 2012

 

Adam Loewen OF, DH 2011

Brett Lawrie 3B, SS, DH 2011-12

 

There were instances where the Jays had a Canadian pitcher and position player in the same game, for example Horsman’s major league debut was on Sept. 5, 1991 when Ducey was playing in left field when he came into the game:

Other Jays’ games involved two Canadian pitchers, such as Quantrill’s start against the Yankees on June, 5 1996 where Spoljaric pitched the last inning.

But 2011 marked the first and only season in which the Jays had two Canadian-born position players on their roster. Before Lawrie’s season was ended by injury on Sept. 20 he and Loewen were both in the starting line up six times. Lawrie was the third baseman in all of these games with Loewen appearing in right field in their first game together, in center field three times, in left field once and another game as the DH. They also appeared together with Loewen as a pinch hitter once and as a pinch runner in another game. Loewen was granted free agency at the end of the season and spent 2012 in the Mets’ system while Lawrie continued to play with the Jays where he was the only Canadian-born position player.

Earlier in 2011 the Jays acquired US-born and naturalized Canadian citizen Mark Teahen. Teahen and Lawrie were both in the starting lineup three times, including Aug. 13, 2011. That was the first instance of two Canadian citizens in the same starting lineup as position players for the Jays and predated by a few weeks the first Canadian-born duo of Lawrie and Loewen. Lawrie and Teahen’s first game together.

All three Canadians were in the same game four times: on Sept. 10, 13, 14 and 17. Lawrie started them all with Loewen pinch hitting in the first and starting the last three. Teahen started on the 10th, pinch hit on the 13th and 17th and came in as a defensive replacement for Lawrie on 14th. Teahen was out of the game by the time Loewen pinch hit on the 10th but on Sept. 13 they were all in the game at one time, in fact they all came to bat in the eighth inning when Teahen pinch hit with two on and two out after the other Canadians had each struck out.  

In their last game together, on Sept. 17, Lawrie and Loewen played the full game while Teahen came up as a pinch hitter in the seventh. Adding to the Canadian content of that game, the Yankees’ catcher was Montrealer Russell Martin.

Others who could be added to this list in 2013

Other Canadian Major Leaguers who were active in 2012 but who have yet to hit a home run in Canada are:

George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.): Kottaras finished 2012 with the A’s after spending the previous 2 1/2 seasons with Milwaukee. He has hit a total of 24 major league home runs and stands a chance of adding his name to the list when Oakland visits Toronto in August 2013. Kottaras played in two games in Toronto when he was with the Red Sox but he only had a walk and a double in seven plate appearances.

Mike Nickeas (Vancouver, BC): Nickeas has played with the Mets for the past three seasons as their backup catcher and he has hit two home runs in 191 plate appearances. Acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade, Nickeas is down on the Jays depth chart behind J.P. Arencibia, Henry Blanco and Josh Thole, but there is still a remote chance for him to hit a home run in Canada next season.

Taylor Green (Comox, BC): Green was one of four Canadians to play for the Brewers in 2012, one off the record of five Canadians set by the 1993 Montreal Expos. He has hit three home runs in 154 career plate appearances through 2012 but since Milwaukee won’t be visiting Toronto in 2013 he’ll have to wait to hit a Canadian home run.

Pete Orr (Richmond Hill, Ont.): Orr has been up and down between the majors and AAA since 2005, hitting three home runs in 716 Major League plate appearances. He is a career National Leaguer and has never appeared in Toronto. The Phillies aren’t scheduled to play in Toronto in 2013 so Orr will have to wait at least another year to attempt a Canadian homer.

Canadian pitchers Erik Bedard, Jeff Francis, Scott Diamond, John Axford, Chris Leroux, Jesse Crain, Jim Henderson and Phillippe Aumont were all active in 2012 but seem unlikely to ever bat in Toronto.

Over 100 Canadians played in the minor leagues in 2012 and some may make their way to the big leagues in 2013. Cale Iorg and Rene Tosoni (both from Toronto) played for the AAA affiliates of American League teams in 2012 and are the best bets to be added to the list in 2013. This site lists all Canadians who were active in the minor leagues in 2012:  

http://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com/articles/2012-canadians-in-the-minors

 

Rumours of some games in Australia in 2014 are just that, so it will be a few years before any Aussies get added to the homeland homer list.

Since no games are scheduled for Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico for 2013 the Blue Jays’ 81 home games will be the only opportunities for someone else to be added to the list of players who were not born in the USA and who hit home runs in their country of birth.

 

David Matchett
The Expos played their first game a couple of weeks after David’s sixth birthday and some of his fondest childhood memories are of sitting in the bleachers at Parc Jarry. He inherited his passion for baseball from his Ted Williams-worshiping father and built on this enthusiasm listening to Dave Van Horne and Duke Snider call the games throughout his adolescence. His move from his native Lachine, Quebec to Toronto was perfectly timed to coincide with the Blue Jays’ two World Series Championships and he cheers for his new favourite team now that the ex-Expos are dead to him (curse you Jeffrey Loria!!!)

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