St. Marys Paul Quantrill and Chris Reitsma, come on down. Now that the Yanks and Braves have locked up playoff berths over the weekend, you are the latest Canucks to make a run at the World Series. Canada now has a total of seven native sons vying to be the first to play in a World Series since Toronto's Rob Butler in 1993.
Given the NHL lockout, the timing couldn't be better!
Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, BC) and Cody McKay (Vancouver) qualified for the playoffs with the steamrolling St. Louis Cardinals, whose first base coach happens to be Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Dave McKay, Cody's father, who was also born in Vancouver. The roster of the steady Minnesota Twins includes Corey Koskie (Anola, MB), Jesse Crain (Toronto) and rookie sensation Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC).
Piling on to Eric Gagné's Cy Young Award last season, it has been another breakout year for Canadian baseball thanks to a solid fourth place showing at the Olympics, Vancouver's Jeff Francis being named Minor League Player of the Year by both Baseball America and USA Today, and Trail, BC native Jason Bay making a serious run at being the first Canadian ever to be named National League Rookie of the Year.
All Jason Bay has done so far is to lead all Major League rookies in home runs (25), RBI (79), and slugging percentage (.571). He also has the third highest batting average (.295) among rookies. The outfielder broke Pete Ward's Canadian record of homeruns by a rookie (22), and surpassed the Pirates' rookie record (23) set by Johnny Rizzo in 1938 and matched by Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner in 1946. To truly grasp the significance of Bay's numbers, note that he has outslugged a pair of guys named Willie Stargell and Barry Bonds, who also began their careers in Pittsburgh. Bay's ratio of one homerun for every 15 at-bats ranks second all-time for rookies in National League history.
Other Canandians on playoff contenders are Mascouche, QC native Gagné with the Dodgers, Ryan Dempster (Gibson, BC) with the Cubs, and Rich Harden (Victoria, BC) with the Athletics.
New Brunswickers Matt Stairs and Rheal Cormier have had quality seasons with the Royals and Phillies respectively, but they won't see the post-season. Nor will the Royals' Aaron Guiel or Orioles' Erik Bedard. Canadian tandem Doug Melvin (GM) and Gord Ash (Asst. GM) are running a quality organization in Milwaukee, but they are not playoff-bound. While the likely-playoff-bound Giants and Red Sox have no Canadian players, Canada does have influence on the respective franchises.
Victoria native Jeff Mallett is one of the majority owners with the Giants, and Barry Bonds' bats are made in Canada by Ottawa's Sam Holman.
If the fabled Curse of the Bambino is finally broken and the Red Sox end their World Series drought of almost a century, credit the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who inducted JJ Lannin this year. The Red Sox won a pair of World Series under ownership of the Quebec native, and he is equally well-known for purchasing the contract of Babe Ruth. It was the following Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee, who sold Ruth's contract, changing baseball history.
The feat of playing in a World Series is rare, epecially for Canadians. 284-game winner Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, ON), the best Canuck ever to dawn a uniform, never had the opportunity despite a Hall of Fame 19-year career. 15-year veteran Terry Puhl (Melville, SK) set an NLCS record when he batted .526 (10-for19) for the Astros in 1980, but didn't play in a World Series.
Only ten Canadians have seen time in a World Series game, including four pitchers and six position players.
In 1975, Red Sox hurler Reggie Cleveland (Swift Current, SK) became the only Canadian pitcher to ever start a World Series game.
Ron Taylor (Toronto) played in a pair of World Series, with the 1964 Cardinals and the 1969 Mets, compiling a 0.00 ERA spanning four games, seven innings pitched, without allowing a base hit and striking out five. Taylor notched two saves.
Rounding out the Canadian pitchers who have appeared in the World Series are Toronto native John Hiller with the 1968 Tigers and John Rutherford (Belleville, ON) with the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers.
George Selkirk (Huntsville, ON) is Canada's King of the World Series, having played in six with the Yankees in 1936-39, and 1941-42. The Huntsville, ON native won five World Series rings, compiling a .265 average (18-for-68), two home runs and 10 RBI.
London, ON's George "Moonie" Gibson, a catcher with the 1909 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, batted .240 (6-for-25) in seven games and shut down the fleet Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers, who had set major league records that very year for individual and team stolen bases.
Jimmy Archer (Montreal) was 2-for-14 in four games with the 1907 Tigers and 1910 Chicago Cubs.
St. Thomas, ON native Jack Graney played in three games with the Cleveland Indians in the 1920 World Series.
Toronto's Bill O'Neill had one at-bat in the 1906 World Series for the Chicago White Sox.
Butler went 1-for-2, appearing in two games when the Blue Jays won their second consecutive World Series in 1993.