June 30, 2020

Canadians in the MLB

I saw this tweet, and it occurred to me how rare it was to see Canadians in the MLB in the 1980s
So, I decided to take a look.  I started in 1979, and these were the Canadian born players who were in the MLB:

Fergie Jenkins - Hall of famer who retired in 1983, after a long career mainly with the Cubs and Rangers (and a pit stop in Boston)
Reggie Cleveland - retired in 1981 - also one of the best Canadians to ever play for the Red Sox
Bill Atkinson - pitched his last 10 games for the Expos in 1979
Dave McKay - was with the Blue Jays, and played until retiting in Oakland in1982
Terry Puhl - 1978 all star, who played with the Astros until 1990, before retiring in KC in 1991
John Hiller - two time all star who played in Detroit his whole career, before retiring in 1980

Along with the aforementioned Gordie Pladson, that's a total of seven.  That's the most there would be until the 1990s.

In 1980, Paul Hodgson had a handful of at-bats for the Blue Jays, and with Atkinson having retired, that kept the total at seven.

In 1981, Rick Lisi had a one month callup with the Rangers, and with Hiller retiring, now we were down to 6 Canadians who made an appearance in the MLB.

In 1982, Doug Frobel made his debut with the Pirates. He'd end his career with the Expos in 1985. With Reggie Cleveland no longer playing, now there were only 5 Canadians.

By 1983, McKay and Pladson were no longer playing, so there was only Jenkins, Puhl and Frobel left.

In 1984 Jenkins had already retired, leaving just two Canadians on MLB rosters.

In 1985, Kirk McCaskill started a long career with the Angels. He'd end up playing until 1996 when he retired as a White Sox pitcher. Also, Edmonton's Dave Shipanoff pitched his only season for the Phillies, so the number of Canadians had doubled to four.

This was shortlived, as there were no new Canadians in 1986, and with Frobel retiring, we were back down to two players again.

In 1987, Rob Ducey made his debut with his hometown Blue Jays. He'd end up having a couple of stints in Toronto, before retiring as an Expo in 2001.

In 1988, Steve Wilson had a September callup with the Rangers. He'd go on to pitch for the Cubs and Dodgers until 1993. We were back to four MLBers, and this number just kept increasing over the next few years.

In 1989, Larry Walker made his debut with the Expos. He'd end up joining Fergie Jenkins in Cooperstown, as the only Candians in the Baseball Hall of Fame, after a long career in Montreal, Colorado and St. Louis.

Then in the 1990s, there was a large influx of Canadians who burst onto the scene.  This included Mike Gardiner, Rheal Cormier, Matt Stairs, Paul Quantrill, Rob Butler, Corey Koskie, Ryan Dempster, Eric Gagne, and many many more. In fact, I counted 28 Canadians who made their MLB debut that decade, including Mike Johnson from Edmonton, and Ryan Radmanovich from Calgary to highlight my province's contribution.

With many current stars such as Calgary's Mike Soroka, Vlad Guerrro Jr., Tyler O'Neill, Joey Votto, James Paxton, and Cal Quantrill as main parts of their teams' rosters, I think it's safe to say we won't see a time when there are only two MLBers representing the maple leaf any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment