Happy Canada Day! Celebrate with these 10 awesome Canadian baseball memories
Canada has been home to some of baseball's most dramatic World Series victories, some of its greatest what-if teams and at least one 5-foot-9-and-I-really-don't-care slugger. On Canada Day, let's look back on 10 of the most notable people, memories and moments from The Great White North's long baseball history.
Bambino strikes his first big fly
Back on September 5, 1914, Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run -- and apparently it was on Canadian soil. The Bambino pitched a one-hitter to go along with his three-run homer, leading the Providence Grays to a 9-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Toronto's Hanlan's Point Stadium. A plaque still stands to commemorate the historic moment.
Not your typical Minor League second baseman
Jackie Robinson got his start with the 1946 Double-A Montreal Royals and actually helped lead the team to a Little World Series. Robinson would, of course, break MLB's color barrier with the Dodgers the following season:
"Fergie is still the best pitcher in baseball. They can talk about Tom Seaver all they want, but I'll take Fergie." - teammate Ken Holtzman
Ontario native Ferguson "Fly" Jenkins began his career with the Phillies in 1965. The right-hander spent 19 seasons in the Majors, tallying 284 wins, a 3.34 ERA and a Cy Young award in 1971. He'd also become the first (and only) Canadian to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bonjour, La Grand Orange
Major League Baseball finally came to Canada when the Montreal Expos took on the St. Louis Cardinals at Jarry Park on April 8, 1969. The Expos won the home opener, 8-7, with a roster that included Coco Laboy, Mudcat Grant and fan favorite Rusty Staub:
Welcome to The Show, Toronto
Eight years later, the Blue Jays played their first game ever -- beating the White Sox 9-5. Although they didn't have much success during their inaugural season, they did rout the eventual World Series-winning Yankees during a game in September:
The best Canadian-born hitter ever?
Larry Walker became the first Canadian-born MVP after the 1997 season (Justin Morneau and Joey Votto would soon follow). "Booger" hit 49 homers, while compiling an incredible .366/.452/.720 slash line in '97. He also staged an epic (?) duel with Randy Johnson during the All-Star Game:
Vlad Guerrero's arm
And bat, and speed, and defense, but mostly, that arm:
"47,224 on their feet. One pitch away from a pitcher's absolute Nirvana. The pitcher's dream. A perfect game." - Vin Scully
Dennis Martinez pitched the only perfect game in Expos history against the Dodgers on July 28, 1991. No Blue Jays pitcher has ever thrown one. Pedro Martinez would come close a couple times for Montreal and the two teams have combined for five no-hitters, but "El Presidente's" perfecto still stands alone:
"You dream to play on a team where you go to the ballpark every day, and you're gonna win, every day." - infielder Sean Berry
With a roster that included Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Cliff Floyd, the 1994 Expos fielded one of the most talented teams in baseball history. The squad went 74-40, but any World Series hopes were crushed when a strike cut the season short. Even still, the '94 squad's legacy remains strong in Montreal:
"Touch 'em all, Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!"
After just 16 years, the Blue Jays won the first World Series for Canada. A young Mike Timlin helped seal the deal against the Braves in 1992:
And then, in '93, Toronto did it again. This time it came courtesy of Joe Carter's walk-off home run -- with a fantastic call and celebration to boot:
As of Tuesday, the Blue Jays are in first place in the AL East. And with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Munenori Kawasaki leading the charge, who knows how far they can go?