June 19, 2006
Back in the year 1884, when saline infusion replaced milk as a blood substitute, Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn won the pitching "Triple Crown" with 59 wins, 441 strikeouts and 1.38 an ERA, and a record 29 Canadians played in the major leagues.
When Scott Thorman (Cambridge, Ont.) suited up for the Atlanta Braves last night, he became the 21st Canadian to suit up for a major league club this season – a modern-day record and the most in any one season since 1884.
Thorman, who went hitless in his debut (not uncommon when facing future hall-of-famer Curt Schilling), also became the 225th Canuck to toil at the big league level.
On Saturday, Scott Mathieson (Aldergrove, B.C.) took the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies, becoming number 224 overall.
Earlier this season, Russell Martin (Chelsea, Qué.) and Adam Loewen (Surrey, B.C.) were called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles respectively, taking their place in history as numbers 222 and 223.
With Jeff Zimmerman (Carsland, Alta.) hoping to return from a prolonged stint on the disable list, and promising Canadians like Steve Green (Longueuil, Qué), Maxim St. Pierre (Québec, Qué.), Eric Langill (Kirkland, Qué), Mike Meyers (London, Ont.), Pierre Luc Laforest (Hull, Qué.), and Luke Carlin (Aylmer, Qué.) excelling in Triple-A, these numbers are bound to increase.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has received Martin's cleats and Loewen's hat from their first major league games, and is in the process of securing game-used items from the debut’s of Mathieson and Thorman.
"Canada's provincial and national team programs are certainly doing an excellent job these days in identifying and developing top prospects, but this surge is also related to the high times Canada was experiencing in the early 1990's," said Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum president and CEO Tom Valcke.
"Kids tend to quit baseball when they are 11 or 12 years old, but there was strong grass roots interest that overcame that tendency back then due to success Canadian baseball was having when the Blue Jays were winning a pair of World Series, the Expos had the best team in baseball in the strike-shortened season (1994), Canada won its first World Championship at the IBAF World Junior Championship in Brandon, Man. In 1991, and baseball became an official Olympic medal sport in 1992.
“In addition, the National Baseball Institute (Vancouver) and Académie Baseball Canada (Montréal) were also taking off at that time. The young men we're seeing arrive in the majors now were the young boys ten to 15 years ago who decided to stick with baseball."
Canadians who have played in the majors in 2006:
Jason Bay, Trail, B.C. - Pittsburgh PiratesErik Bedard, Navan, Ont. - Baltimore OriolesJesse Crain, Toronto, Ont. - Minnesota TwinsRheal Cormier, Moncton, N.B. - Philadelphia PhilliesAaron Guiel, Vancouver, B.C. - Kansas City RoyalsRyan Dempster, Sechelt, B.C. - Chicago CubsJeff Francis, North Delta, B.C. - Colorado RockiesEric Gagné, Massouche, Qué. - Los Angeles DodgersRich Harden, Victoria, B.C. - Oakland AthleticsShawn Hill, Georgetown, Ont. - Washington NationalsCorey Koskie, Anola, Man. - Milwaukee BrewersAdam Loewen, Surrey, B.C. - Baltimore OriolesRussell Martin, Chelsea, Qué - Los Angeles DodgersScott Mathieson, Aldergrove, B.C. - Philadelphia PhilliesJustin Morneau, New Westminster, B.C. - Minnesota TwinsPeter Orr, Newmarket, Ont. - Atlanta BravesChris Reitsma, Calgary, Alta. - Atlanta BravesMatt Stairs, Fredericton, N.B. - Kansas City RoyalsAdam Stern, Port Stanley, Ont. - Boston Red SoxMark Teahen - Kansas City RoyalsScott Thorman, Cambridge, Ont. - Atlanta Braves
Number of Canadians who have played in the major leagues, by season:
Year- Total 1884 - 29 1900 - 0 1910 - 9 1920 - 5 1930 - 2 1940 - 5 1950 - 6 1960 - 5 1970 - 8 1980 - 8 1990 - 7 2000 - 17 2001 - 15 2002 - 16 2003 - 14 2004 - 19 2005 – 192006 - 21 (so far)
SOURCE: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.