By Bob Elliott
Jameson Taillon pitched Team USA to its first-ever win at the 2009 Pan-Am Juniors in Venezuela.
He was on the mound for Team USA at The Futures Game in Kansas City last summer.
And next month, the Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand will start for Team Canada ... likely against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
“Jameson grew up in Texas, all our kids have dual citizenship and that allows the luxury of choices, we’ll be there,” his father, Michael Taillon said from Calgary. “As the baby of our family, he’s done extremely well. It’s nice to see him grow and blossom.”
Mike works for Aon, one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage firms. He returns to Houston often to see wife Christie, who grew up in the Lawrence Park area of Toronto. Mike moved to Calgary from Vancouver when the office wanted someone with a background in oil and gas.
Daughter Jazmine is an attorney in Houston, son Jordan recently accepted a fellowship at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, as well as practising at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, while Justin is an assistant professor at the University of Guelph in the school of hospitality & tourism management.
Christie “deserves the credit, all the brains came from her,” says Mike.
Proud grandpa Raymond Taillon will watch on TV from the Taillon homestead in St. Andrews West, near Cornwall, Ont.
“This has not been a tough winter in Calgary, compared to growing up in eastern Ontario,” said Mike. “It was minus 16 the other day when I went for breakfast, but it was clear blue skies and you can see the mountains. “Vancouver was mild, but from the middle part of January for a month or so it would rain two or three days times a week.”
When Mike retires he has plans after living half of his life north of the border.
“Christie and I decided to keep the house in The Woodlands (north of Houston), this is a house the kids can always come back to,” Mike said. “We’d like to buy a place. We can’t afford Muskoka but maybe the Okanagan ... it’s God country and throw in all the great B.C. wineries.”
Or Mike could work for the B.C. Board of Tourism:
“Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” he says, “there is something about a city when you throw in the Rockies, the view is spectacular.”
When he worked on the coast Mike could look out his windows and see English Bay, Stanley Park and the mountains. Pure post card.
Jameson and Mike visited Banff and Lake Louise in early last October.
In the gold medal game at Barquisimeto, Vez., Jameson pitched 7 2/3 innings striking out a Junior Pan-Am record 16, surpassing the record of 15 shared by Team USA’s Scott Kazmir in 2001 and Jeff Manship in 2003.
Bryce Harper, now of the Washington Nationals, was catching and Manny Machaco, now of the Baltimore Orioles played short.
“Jamo pitched the game of his life,” proud papa says. Team USA officials coming to The Woodlands high to present him their international player of the year honour.
Jameson faced his good friend Gerrit Cole -- another former Pirates first-round pick -- in an intra-squad game the other day in Bradenton, Fla.
“He’s listening, learning,” Mike says. “The good thing are both Chris Leroux and Russ Martin are there. They’ll be with Canada. Russell was very helpful after Jamo threw a bullpen the other day.”
The 6-foot-6 right-hander started 2012 at class-A Bradenton, was elevated to double-A Altoona and had better numbers.
In 23 Florida State league starts he was 6-8, with a 3.82 ERA walking 37 and striking out 98 in 125 innings.
At Altoona, he was 3-0 in three starts with a 1.59 mark walking three and striking out 18 in 17 innings.
“He’s always loved to be challenged, there wasn’t anything magical when he went to Altoona,” Mike said. “You become more accountable the higher you go.
“They did take handcuffs off, he threw his two-seamer at double-A, in Bradenton they wanted him to work on his four-seamer. The good things about the Pirates system is that they bump you up when they think you are ready. That was behind it.”
Starting a 21-year-old, with three starts above class-A against Team USA?
Adam Loewen was 22, with zero starts at double-A, when he pitched 3 2/3 scoreless as Canada upset Team USA in 2006.
“I hope,” said the father of the son, “he’s on his game. That’s not a lineup you can have a lot of rest against.”