But What Do I Know? … John McDonald, Tom Henke, Alex Rodriguez
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
_ On a New York Mets broadcast in 1988, Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner said, “On this Father’s Day, we’d like to wish all you fathers out here a Happy Birthday.” So to paraphrase Kiner, Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful dad, Ralph Glew.
_ There’s no better Toronto Blue Jays Father’s Day story than when John McDonald, who averaged less than two home runs a season during his 16-year big league career, stepped to the plate on June 20, 2010 and belted a homer in his first at bat after returning from his father’s funeral. For more details about that unforgettable home run, you can watch this TV story.
_ Brett Cecil’s struggles in the ninth inning on Friday, combined with the New York Yankees recognizing Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre with plaques in Monument Park yesterday, reminded me that the Toronto Blue Jays still haven’t added Tom Henke’s name to their Level of Excellence. The club’s brass said they were considering this honour for Henke at their State of the Franchise event in February 2012.
_ My belief in karma died when Alex Rodriguez hit a homerun on Friday for his 3,000th career hit. But it was resurrected when the ball was corralled by Zack Hample, a self-anointed, professional home run ball catcher, who has refused to give the ball back to A-Rod.
_ Speaking of A-Rod, how has the former Calgary Cannon fared against Canadian pitchers during his big league career? By my count, Rodriguez has homered off of three Canucks: Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.), Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) and Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.). A-Rod has had the most success (10-for-27) off of Bedard and the least success against Adam Loewen (Surrey, B.C.), who limited the slugger to one hit in six at bats.
_ Former Blue Jay Dustin McGowan allowed five home runs in 3 1/3-innings in relief for the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. That’s a lot of home runs. To put it into context, that’s the same number of homers that Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen allowed in 111 appearances combined in 2011 and 2013.
_ Want to feel old? Ex-Blue Jays infielder Manny (or is it Manuel?) Lee turned 50 on Wednesday.
_ I was reading about Joe DiMaggio this week and I discovered that it was Canadian left-hander Joe Krakauskas (Montreal, Que.) that allowed the last hit in the Yankee Clipper’s 56-game hitting streak. On July 16, 1941, DiMaggio doubled to left-centre field off of the Canuck southpaw in the ninth inning in a 10-3 New York Yankees’ romp over the Cleveland Indians.
_ While Chris Colabello continues to be an unlikely hitting star for the Blue Jays, the Jays have another late-blooming first baseman in triple-A. Twenty-nine-year-old Matt Hague, a ninth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, is batting an International League-leading .355 in 69 games for the Buffalo Bisons this season. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound infielder spent parts of seven seasons in the Pirates organization, including 33 big league games in 2012 and 2014, before he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays last August.
_ And I wanted to share with you my favorite “tweet” of the year so far from the ever-witty and self-deprecating former big leaguer Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen): “As I reflect on my career it becomes clear I was merely a couple injuries, 2 skills & a few steroid cycles away from doing something special.”