BWDIK: Delgado, Munson, Thomson, Venditte

Before he played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee -- next weekend -- Carlos Delgado played at class-A St. Catharines. 

Before he played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee -- next weekend -- Carlos Delgado played at class-A St. Catharines. 

June 7, 2015

But What Do I Know? … Carlos Delgado, Rob Thomson, Thurman Munson

By Kevin Glew

My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

_ Carlos Delgado, who will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this coming Saturday in St. Marys, Ont., was arguably the greatest hitter in Toronto Blue Jays history, but the Blue Jays weren’t the first professional team that Delgado played for in Canada. He made his professional debut as a 17-year-old catcher with the Class-A St. Catharines Blue Jays in 1989. He hit .180 in 31 games that season, before returning to the club in 1990 to bat .281 with six home runs in 67 contests.

_ One pitcher who hasn’t received enough credit for how sharp he has been out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen since being recalled this season is Steve Delabar. In 10 appearances, he has allowed just four hits and two runs and has struck out 12 in 9-1/3 innings. Even with GM Alex Anthopoulos shopping for relief help, Delabar’s performance should keep him in the Jays’ big league pen for the foreseeable future.

_ According to Sports Collectors Daily, Canadian Rob Thomson (Sarnia, Ont.), who’s the third base coach for the New York Yankees, receives over 100 autograph requests per year from collectors that are intended for Robby Thompson, the former San Francisco Giants second baseman.  

_ Speaking of the Yankees, late great catcher Thurman Munson posted a .375 batting average in 18 games at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium during his big league career. This was the highest batting average he recorded at any big league park. Munson would’ve turned 68 today, if he had not died when the plane he was piloting crashed on August 2, 1979 at the Akron-Canton Airport.

_ Thirty-eight years ago today, the Montreal Expos selected right-hander Bill Gullickson with their second overall pick in the MLB amateur draft. Though Gullickson had a solid big league career, the Milwaukee Brewers were able to snag Hall of Famer Paul Molitor with the following pick (third overall). For the record, the Chicago White Sox took Harold Baines with the first pick in that draft, while the Blue Jays, with their first MLB amateur draft selection ever, chose shortstop Tom Goffena. For more on Goffena, you can read this blog entry I wrote about him in 2013.

_ Skeeter Kell, who played his final professional games with the triple-A Ottawa A’s of the International League in 1954, passed away on May 28 in Newport, Ark., at the age of 85. The brother of Hall of Famer, George Kell, the 5-foot-9 second baseman also hit .232 in 132 games with the Ottawa in 1953. Those two seasons were part of five campaigns he played in the A’s organization. In 1952, he hit .221 in 75 games in his only big league action. After hanging up his professional playing spikes, he opened Skeeter Kell Sporting Goods in Kennett, Mo. According to his obituary, he later worked as a sales representative for L.G. Balfour Graduation Products, before retiring in 2000. He’s survived by his wife, Sue, four children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

_ When Pat Venditte pitched right-handed and left-handed for the Oakland A’s in the seventh inning on Friday, it had to bring back memories for Montreal Expos fans. It was on September 28, 1995 that Expos reliever Greg Harris pitched left-handed and right-handed in the ninth inning in a 9-7 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Olympic Stadium. If you watch this video, you’ll notice that it’s Canadian Joe Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) who’s catching Harris in this history-making performance.

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Kevin Glew

Regaled with stories about Mickey Mantle by his father, Ralph, when he was growing up, Kevin Glew developed a keen interest in baseball at a young age in Dorchester, Ont. playing against teams from Vienna, Straffordville, St. Thomas, Stratford, Harrietsville, Belmont, London and Sarnia. His interest blossomed into a full-blown fascination after enduring a bone-chilling wind on the bench seats down the right-field line at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Oct. 5, 1985 to witness the Blue Jays secure their first division title. Though Dale Murphy was his favourite player, the teenage Glew played more like a poor man's Spike Owen - another of his childhood heroes whom he later had the opportunity to interview. When he realized he had no shot at a big league career, Glew focussed his efforts on becoming a sportswriter. During his tenure in the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa from 1992 to 1996, he watched the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx in their glory years and vividly recalls a young Matt Stairs suiting up for the Lynx.With few jobs in sports journalism available upon graduation, Glew entered the financial services industry. But after eight years of writing about RRSPs, Glew decided it was time to write about RBIs again. Since leaving his position in the financial sector, he has had freelance articles published in Baseball Digest, Baseball America and the London Free Press. He has also contributed to CBC Sports, SLAM! Sports, Rogers Sportsnet and MLB.com. In June 2010, he started a Canadian baseball history blog called Cooperstowners in Canada. You can read his blog here. Glew is also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. He is available for paid writing gigs and can be reached at kevin.glew@sympatico.ca