But What Do I Know? … John McDonald, Trei Cruz, Sparky Anderson, Andres Galarraga
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
_ Up until my mid-teens, he channeled his inner Mickey Mantle to hit me countless fly balls down Thames Crescent in Dorchester, Ont. And I chased them pretending to be Jesse Barfield or Dale Murphy. He’s a kind, quiet, patient, gentle and responsible man who has literally given me the shoes off his feet on more than one occasion. He’s my handyman, my accountant, my Toronto Blue Jays co-analyst and most importantly, a tremendously supportive dad. I’m blessed to have Ralph Glew as my father, and after a challenging year health-wise, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to watch the Blue Jays game with him this afternoon.
_ It’s without question the best Father’s Day moment in Blue Jays history. Seven years ago, John McDonald returned to the Blue Jays with a heavy heart five days after delivering the eulogy at his father Jack’s funeral. As one of his final requests, McDonald’s father asked his son to point up to him after he touched home plate following his next home run. The Blue Jays smooth-fielding shortstop, who averaged less than two home runs a season, promised he would, but he cautioned his father that it could take a long time. Magically, in his first bat after his father’s death, McDonald belted a pitch from San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt over the left-field wall at Rogers Centre on Father’s Day. You can listen to McDonald recount the story of the home run here.
_ Keeping with the fathers and sons theme, Trei Cruz, who was born in Toronto, Ont., and was selected by the Houston Astros in the 35th round of the MLB Draft on Wednesday, is the son of Jose Cruz Jr. And while I’m happy for the younger Cruz, I’m also starting to feel old, because not only do I recall his father as a 30-30 man with the Blue Jays, but I also remember his grandpa, Jose Cruz, playing for the Astros in the ’80s.
_ Bo Bichette, the son of former Colorado Rockies slugger Dante Bichette, is batting an even .400 in 55 games for the Toronto Blue Jays’ low-A Lansing Lugnuts. So far this season, he has accumulated 90 hits, including 28 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. I don’t care what professional level you’re playing at, hitting .400 into the third month of the season is a remarkable accomplishment.
_ The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremonies will take place on Saturday in St. Marys, Ont. This year the Hall is set to induct ex-Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, former Montreal Expos slugger Vladimir Guerrero, longtime Baseball Canada president Ray Carter, late trailblazing umpire Doug Hudlin and the Senior National Team that won gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Among the past inductees and former Blue Jays and Expos that are scheduled to appear in St. Marys next weekend are Fergie Jenkins, Tony Fernandez, Pat Hentgen, Ernie Whitt, Duane Ward, Lloyd Moseby, Paul Spoljaric, Paul Quantrill, Jeff Francis, Bill Atkinson and Larry Landreth. Legendary general manager Pat Gillick will also be there.
_ Ten years ago, I was volunteering at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame when Sparky Anderson arrived at the museum the day before his induction. Prior to becoming one of the most successful and beloved managers in major league history, Anderson played for the International League’s Montreal Royals and Toronto Maple Leafs before landing his first professional managerial gig with the Leafs in 1964. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame traditionally holds their golf tournament the day before induction, so we (as museum volunteers) were uncertain that we’d see Anderson before induction day. But as I was giving a tour to a small group in the museum, I noticed a thin, white-haired man wandering around the next room looking at artifacts and shaking hands with visitors. It was unmistakably Sparky Anderson. He had arrived at the museum with a small group unannounced. As I watched him, there didn’t appear to be any ego with him, I thought he seemed like a kind grandfatherly figure who loved to chat. I remember asking him about Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rocky Nelson, who won three International League MVP Awards with the Montreal Royals and Toronto Maple Leafs. “Ah, Rock,” he said, his voice trailing off and his mind seemingly retreating to the 1950s. “He was the Ted Williams of the International League.”
_ Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.) has graciously loaned his gold medal from the 2015 Pan Am Games to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to display for induction weekend. The gritty former catcher, who’s now the director of baseball operations at Centrefield Sports and for the Great Lake Canadians program in London, Ont., came out of retirement to serve in a leadership role for that victorious Senior National Team squad.
_ Happy 56th Birthday to the Big Cat Andres Galarraga! The 6-foot-3, 235-pound first baseman played parts of eight seasons with the Montreal Expos (1985 to 1991, 2002). As an Expo, he won two Gold Gloves (1989, 1990) and was named an all-star in 1988 before moving on and winning a batting title with the Colorado Rockies in 1993. In all, he suited up for parts of 19 big league seasons and walloped 399 home runs. A fun fact about Galarraga: Despite his lumbering appearance, he stole 10 or more bases in six different seasons, including a career-high 18 with the Colorado Rockies in 1996 when he was 35.