July 01, 2022

Happy Canada Day, Red Sox Fans

The Boston Red Sox have had a long history of Canadian born players who have had an impact on the franchise.  This year's edition (as has been the case more often than not since 1990), no MLB team has more Canucks on their roster than this Amercian League team that plays home games in Boston. Here is a brief look at the Canadians who were fortunate to play home games at Fenway Park:

Prior to the 1920s, the following mainly forgettable names suited up for the Red Sox:

Larry McLean
Win Kellum
Bunk Congalton
John O'Neill
Art McGovern
Yip Owens
Frank O'Rourke

These players were all from the Eastern part of Canada - Ontario and New Brunswick specifically - which made sense at a time where Chicago and St.Louis were considered long trips to the West in the major leagues. 

It wasn't until the late 1950s that another player from North of the 49th appeared for the Red Sox, as Ted Bowsfield (Vernon, BC), pitched from 1958 to 1960 until getting traded for the infamous Carroll Hardy (who is mainly known for pinch hitting for both Ted Williams and Carl Yasztremski).

Then in the mid 70s, we had a couple of pitchers, starting with Reggie Cleveland (Swift Current, SK) who pitched from 1974 to 1978, and future Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins (Chatam, ON) who was part of the 1976 and 1977 teams.
No Canadian players suited up for the Red Sox during the 1980s which were a lean time for Canadians in the MLB in general.

And then in 1990, the Red Sox regularly started including Canadian players on the roster. 
It started with a trade for my hometown's Mike Gardiner (Sarnia, ON) in 1990, who played in Boston until being traded for all-star Ivan Calderon in 1992.  In 1992, Peter Hoy (Brockville, ON) who had been drafted by us in 1988, made his debut and pitched a handful of innings in relief, while Paul Quantrill (London, ON) whom we had drafted in 1989 got the call up and appeared in almost 100 games for us until 1994.  Of course, he is mainly know as a part of Red Sox history for giving up a walk off home run in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS to some guy named Ortiz.  In 1995, we acquired Rheal Cormier (Moncton, NB), and Matt Stairs (Saint John, NB).  In 1996, the Red Sox used their first round draft pick on Chris Reitsma (Calgary). He never did play for us, but I've included him here as we acquired Dante Bichette for him, and he is from my current hometown.
In 2004, we stole Adam Stern (London) from Atlanta in the Rule 5 draft, and he patrolled our outfield in 2005 and 2006 when not sidelined due to injuries, but his biggest contribution came in the WBC as he led Team Canada to an upset victory over USA hitting an inside the park home run, driving in 4 runs and making some highlight reel catches. 
In 2006, we traded for George Kottaras (Scarborough, ON) who caught for us in 2008 and 2009, but the biggest gain in that trade was to be able to ship David Wells away.
On the 2007 trade deadline, we acquired Eric Gagne (Montreal) to bolster our bullpen. He did everything possible to keep us from winning the division, but fortunately the Red Sox prevailed in spite of his best efforts, and he was used very sparingly in the postseason which helped us to win the World Series.  At the next trade deadline, in 2008, we acquired Jason Bay (Trail, BC), for Manny, and he proceeded to score the series walk-off run against the Angels in the ALDS, and then was an all-star in 2009.  Erik Bedard (Ottawa) was acquired at the 2011 trade deadline to help with the rotation down the stretch, in that infamous season where we ended up one game out of the postseason. In the 2012-13 offseason, we signed Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC), who had previosuly played for the Calgary Cannons and became a key member of our starting rotation that went on to win the 2013 Word Series Championship. 

And of course, this season we have Nick Pivetta (Victoria, BC) who has been dominant the last few weeks, and are awaiting the debut of James Paxton (Richmond, BC) who is the only Canadian to throw a no-hitter in Canada.

With all this rich history of Canadians playing for the Red Sox, I do feel very patriotic in supporting the Boston Red Sox!

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