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As the CBC is currently conducting its Greatest Canadian contest, we here at Batter's Box feel that we ought to offer our readers the baseball version. Although our version offers less production value, public debate and patent absurdity than the original, it has the potential to provoke what Batter's Box is all about - fine baseball conversation from a Canadian perspective.

The CBC's top one-hundred candidates include thirteen athletes, none of whom are baseball players. Fergie Jenkins missed the cut, but Ed Belfour is on the list. Avril Lavigne and Bret "the Hitman" Hart were both up for consideration, whereas Larry Walker was not. Something's amiss with the voting process that yielded that list. It's really too bad that top one-hundred candidate Nellie McClung is not still around; she could have fought the CBC to get suffrage for the sane.

We offer you twenty choices for The Greatest Canadian Baseball Player. The criteria are as nebulous as they are in the CBC's contest - the greatest degree of demonstrated or latent, uh, greatness.

To get on the ballot, a position player must have played at least 1000 Major League games, and a pitcher must have pitched at least 1000 innings. There are twenty players (eleven position players and nine pitchers) would meet those criteria.

Here they are; tell us who you think is The Greatest Canadian Baseball Player.

Position Players

George Gibson
Career: 1905-1918
From: London, ON
Position: Catcher
Teams: Pittsburgh (NL), New York (NL)
Best Season: 1909 (.265/.326/.361)
Career: 4190 PA, .236/.295/.312, 15 HR, 345 RBI

Jack Graney
Career: 1908-1922
From: St. Thomas, ON
Position: Outfielder
Team: Cleveland (AL)
Best Season: 1916 (.241/.355/.384)
Career: 5576 PA, .250/.354/.342, 18 HR, 420 RBI
Led AL in doubles in 1916 (41)... led AL in walks in 1917 (94) and 1919 (105).

Jeff Heath
Career: 1936-1949
From: Fort William, ON
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Cleveland (AL), Washington (AL), St. Louis (AL), Boston (NL)
Best Season: 1941 (.340/.396/.586)
Career: 5560 PA, .293/.370/.509, 194 HR, 887 RBI
All Star in 1941 and 1943... led AL in triples in 1938 (18) and 1941 (20)... finished in the top ten in homeruns in AL six times during the 1940's.

Arthur Irwin
Career: 1880-1894
From: Toronto, ON
Position: Shortstop
Teams: Worcester (NL), Providence (NL), Philadelphia (NL), Washington (NL), Boston (PL), Boston (AA)
Best Season: 1883 (.286/.306/.374)
Career: 4190 PA, .241/.299/.305, 5 HR, 391 RBI

Tip O'Neill
Career: 1883-1892
From: Springfield, ON
Position: Outfielder
Teams: New York (NL), St. Louis (AA), Chicago (PL), Cininnati (NL)
Best Season: 1887 (.435/.490/.691)
Career: 4720 PA, .326/.390/.458, 52 HR, 757 RBI
In 1887, led AA in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, homeruns and runs batted in... repeated as batting champion in 1888.

Frank O'Rourke
Career: 1912-1931
From: Hamilton, ON
Position: Thirdbaseman
Teams: Boston (NL), Brooklyn (NL), Washington (AL), Boston (AL), Detroit (AL), St. Louis (AL)
Best Season: 1925 (.293/.350/.436)
Career: 4606 PA, .254/.315/.333, 15 HR, 430 RBI
Youngest player in NL in 1912 (17).

Bill Phillips
Career: 1879-1888
From: St. John, NB
Position: Catcher
Teams: Cleveland (NL), Brooklyn (AA), Kansas City (AA)
Best Season: 1886 (.274/.313/.369)
Career: 4458 PA, .266/.299/.374, 17 HR, 534 RBI

Terry Puhl
Career: 1977-1991
From: Melville, SK
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Houston (NL), Kansas City (AL)
Best Season: 1980 (.282/.357/.419)
Career: 5479 PA, .280/.349/.388, 62 HR, 435 RBI
NL All Star in 1978.

Pop Smith
Career: 1880-1891
From: Digby, NS
Position: Secondbaseman
Teams: Cincinnati (NL), Cleveland (NL), Buffalo (NL), Worcester (NL), Philadelphia (AA), Louisville (AA), Columbus (AA), Pittsburgh (AA), Pittsburgh (NL), Boston (NL), Washington (AA)
Best Season: 1890 (.229/.353/.322)
Career: 4623 PA, .222/.287/.313, 24 HR, 358 RBI
Led AA in triples in 1881 (17).

Matt Stairs
Career: 1992-present
From: Tay Creek, NB
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Montreal (NL), Boston (AL), Oakland (AL), Chicago (NL), Milwaukee (NL), Pittsburgh (NL), Kansas City (AL)
Best Season: 1999 (.258/.366/.533)
Career: 4058 PA, .266/.359/.494, 194 HR, 634 RBI

Larry Walker
Career: 1989-present
From: Maple Ridge, BC
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Montreal (NL), Colorado (NL), St. Louis (NL)
Best Season: 1997 (.366/.452/.720)
Career: 7663 PA, .314/.401/.568, 368 HR, 1259 RBI
Five-time All Star... 1997 NL MVP... Seven Gold Gloves... batting titles in 1998, 1999 and 2001... led NL in on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 1997 and 1999... led NL in doubles (44) in 1994... led NL in homeruns in 1997 (49).


Reggie Cleveland
Career: 1969-1981
From: Swift Current, SK
Teams: St. Louis (NL), Boston (AL), Texas (AL), Milwaukee (AL)
Best Season: 1973, 14-10, 3.01
Career: 105-106-25, 4.01, 1809 IP, 930 K

Rheal Cormier
Career: 1991-present
From: Cap Pele, NB
Teams: St. Louis (NL), Boston (AL), Montreal (NL), Philadelphia (NL)
Best Season: 2003, 8-0-1, 1.70
Career: 65-59-2, 4.01, 1123.3 IP, 706 K

Russ Ford
Career: 1909-1915
From: Brandon, MB
Teams: New York (AL), Buffalo (FL)
Best Season: 1914, 21-6-6, 1.82
Career: 99-71-9, 2.59, 1487.3, 710 K
Led FL in saves in 1914... led AL in homeruns allowed in 1912, 1913 and FL in 1914... led AL in losses in 1912 (21).

Dick Fowler
Career: 1941-1952
From: Toronto, ON
Teams: Philadelphia (AL)
Best Season: 1947, 12-11, 2.81
Career: 66-79-4, 4.11, 1303 IP, 382 K
Led AL in losses in 1946 (16).

John Hiller
Career: 1965-1980
From: Toronto, ON
Teams: Detroit (AL)
Best Season: 1973, 10-5-38, 1.44
Career: 87-76-125, 2.83, 1242 IP, 1036 K
Led AL in games and saves in 1973... missed entire 1971 season after suffering a stroke... All Star in 1974... fourth in AL in MVP voting in 1973.

Ferguson Jenkins
Career: 1965-1983
From: Chatham, ON
Teams: Philadelphia (NL), Chicago (NL), Texas (AL), Boston (AL)
Best Season: 1971, 24-13, 2.77
Career: 284-226-7, 3.34, 4500.7 IP, 3192 K
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1991... three time All Star... NL Cy Young in 1971... top ten in Cy Young voting six times from 1967 to 1978... led NL in wins in 1971 and AL in 1974... led his league in homeruns allowed seven times... led AL in strikeouts in 1969.

Phil Marchildon
Career: 1940-1950
From: Penetanguishene, ON
Teams: Philadelphia (AL), Boston (AL)
Best Season: 1947, 19-9, 3.22
Career: 68-75-2, 3.93, 1214.3 IP, 481 K
Led AL in walks in 1942 and 1947... led AL in losses in 1946.

Kirk McCaskill
Career: 1985-1996
From: Kapuskasing, ON
Teams: California (AL), Chicago (AL)
Best Season: 1986, 17-10, 3.36
Career: 106-108-7, 4.12, 1729 IP, 1003 K
Led AL in losses in 1991 (19)... top ten in AL ERA in 1986, 1989 and 1990.

Paul Quantrill
Career: 1992-present
From: Port Hope, ON
Teams: Boston (AL), Philadelphia (NL), Toronto (AL), Los Angeles (NL), New York (AL)
Best Season: 1997, 6-7-5, 1.94
Career: 66-76-21, 3.74, 1186.7 IP, 689 K
All Star in 2001... led his league in games in each of the last four seasons.

So there you have it, Bauxites. Who is The Greatest Canadian Baseball Player?
The Real Greatest Canadian | 39 comments | Create New Account
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Mike Green - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 10:39 PM EST (#17521) #
Well, let's narrow it down a bit. O'Neill, Heath, Walker, Hiller and Jenkins make the first cut. Walker and Jenkins make the second.

And between the two of them, it's real close. Walker is not in the top rank of outfielders- Mays, Mantle, Cobb.., but he's right with the next group down- Duke Snider, Dave Winfield and so on. In other words, he's a Hall of Famer. Jenkins is about the same as a starting pitcher. Not in the top rank with Clemens, Grove, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez..., but in the next group down with Jim Palmer, Robin Roberts, Don Sutton.

All right, decision time. Larry Walker.
Craig B - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 10:47 PM EST (#17522) #
Well, I think it's Jenkins hands down. Walker's one of my favoorite players ever, but was he as great as Fergie? Not in my view.

If Walker had only been able to stay healthy for 4-5 years in a row...
Leigh - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 10:53 PM EST (#17523) #
Craig, after checking out his page, I thought you might pick Frank O'Rourke.
_Rob - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 11:23 PM EST (#17524) #
Off topic:
Check out #77 and then #51 at the CBC Top 100 site, then...shake your head and close the window, acting like the CBC never forced this stupid contest on us.

Back on topic: Fergie, Walker, Heath are my 1-2-3.
_David C - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 11:27 PM EST (#17525) #
Jenkins is in the Hall of Fame - Walker is good but won't make it these - no contest

Better question which current Canadian will have a best career? Jason Bay, Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis or Eric Gagne - any other contenders?
_Matthew E - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 11:36 PM EST (#17526) #
shake your head and close the window, acting like the CBC never forced this stupid contest on us.

I like it. I know the results aren't worth anything, but a) it gets people talking about great Canadians, and b) it teaches people something about their country and its history. It's taught me stuff, and I was already interested in Canadian history.
Craig B - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 11:40 PM EST (#17527) #
I hate the contest too, but Matthew's right. Those darn pointyheaded CBC pinkos made learning fun!

So what if a few people are ranked higher than we think they deserve? One of the fun things about this is seeing how people think.

And #51 is bad, true, but #50 is just unforgivable.

And Stompin' Tom should have made the top 10, at least.
Craig B - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 11:55 PM EST (#17528) #
By the way, this is now the fourth time I've changed my mind about this Greatest Canadian thing. Yes, I'm a flip-flopper.
_David C - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 11:57 PM EST (#17529) #
IIRC Stompin' Tom was born in the USA
_Matthew E - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 06:36 AM EST (#17530) #
Nope. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick.
_Dave A - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 08:32 AM EST (#17531) #
Just to throw out something for discussion...isn't the 1000 inning threshold for pitchers discriminatory against relief pitchers?

As an example, Ron Taylor's career numbers are comparable to many of the pitchers listed, but as a career reliever with only 800 IP, he is automatically excluded from the list.

COMN for Taylor's record.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 09:54 AM EST (#17532) #
Actually, the most comparable pitcher to Jenkins is Tommy John. Walker figures to end his career with better rate numbers than Winfield in maybe 1500-2000 fewer PAs, and Walker was even better defensively than Winfield. I wonder how Yankee fans would feel about a John vs. Winfield comparison; somehow I suspect that Winfield would get the nod. Perhaps Hall of Fame voting patterns have some influence.

By the way, the year that Fergie won his Cy, 1971, the choices were interesting. Tom Terrific went 20-10 in 286 innings with more than a strikeout per inning an ERA of 1.76 and an ERA+ of 193. Fergie went 24-13 in 325 innings with 7.3 strikeouts per 9, an ERA of 2.77 and an ERA+ of 143. That was Fergie's best season. Cy voters pretty clearly made the wrong decision.

Similarly the year that Walker won his MVP, 1997, the choices were also interesting. Piazza went .362/.431/.638 with an OPS+ of 186 in 633 PAs. Walker went .366/.452/.720 with an OPS+ of 177 in 664 PAs. Piazza was a below average defensive catcher, while Walker was a great defensive outfielder. It's close, but I think that the MVP voters also made the wrong decision here.

Anyways, to sum up my thinking, Walker was substantially better than Fergie at his peak. Fergie was substantially more durable. At age 37, Walker has been over his career OPS+ two out of the last three years.
_tangotiger - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 10:01 AM EST (#17533) #
I agree it is discriminatory against relievers. A better cutoff for pitchers would be to do: 4*G + IP, with 1600 being the cutoff, and neatly allows Gagne to slide in.

The above equation puts the following on the same scale:
34 GS, 220 IP
68 GR, 84 IP

Though, maybe 3*G+IP makes more sense:
30 GS, 180 IP
64 GR, 78 IP

... and make the cutoff whatever allows Gagne to slide in.
robertdudek - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 10:02 AM EST (#17534) #
I lost a lot of interest in the show when Marshall McLuhan failed to make the top 50 (he was #62).
robertdudek - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 10:09 AM EST (#17535) #
Someone more familiar with the voting might correct me, but I think the voting was a list of one.

They would have done better to have an MVP-style top 10 or top 15 list submitted, so that more of the ballots would be from discerning voters. It would also have made it harder for the likes of Don Cherry to make the top 10, since I presume that fewer people would put him between #2 and #15 than more logical choices.
_Vern - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 10:57 AM EST (#17536) #
I had no idea CBC was doing such a thing. What an odd list.

No Northrop Frye. Odd.

And Mordecai Richler instead of Robertson Davies?

And Atwood so low.

And though I can't stand either of them, how can one include Avril Lavigne and not Alannis Morisette?
_Mick - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 12:26 PM EST (#17537) #
Can't believe McLuhan didn't make the Top 20, myself. And Rob, seriously, what do you have against the guy who discovered insulin (Dr. Charles Best, #77)?? I would personally probably be dead without him, so I myself would have him a lot higher.
_Jonathan - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 12:29 PM EST (#17538) #
Walker's history of injuries knocks him down a few points. It's gotta be Fergie.
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 12:57 PM EST (#17539) #
Being foreigner, the list is instructive but very difficult to understand the criteria with wich they assign the places.
Did not know Graham Bell was Canadian
My personal list from a very limited background ( only five places being able to fill ): Pierre Trudeu, M. Mc Luhan, Glenn Gould, Emily Carr and Louis Riel.
i can not see any grandeur about being a celebrity ( for example i would never put Antonio Quiñones aka Anthony Queen in any mexican top 100 or 500 )
Baseball related: Walker first ( and still walking... ) Fergie and ( for future/present ) Gagne.
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 01:09 PM EST (#17540) #
oh yes I knew about Gretzky and Terry Fox, etc but that is not my idea of greatest in the national sense.
_Four Seamer - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 01:18 PM EST (#17541) #
I suspect Rob was outraged by the fact that Charles Best was ranked some 26 spots below Pamela Anderson, although I tend to agree with Craig that the real crime is in Rick Mercer (!) being ranked number 50. I'm sure people enjoy his brand of comedy, but what possible claim does he have on greatness? He's not even a transcendent national icon like Don Cherry.
_Four Seamer - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 01:20 PM EST (#17542) #
Did not know Graham Bell was Canadian

Don't worry jabonoso, I think Alexander Graham Bell would be surprised to learn he was Canadian, too!
_Magpie - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 01:40 PM EST (#17543) #
Tom Terrific went 20-10 in 286 innings with more than a strikeout per inning an ERA of 1.76 and an ERA+ of 193. Fergie went 24-13 in 325 innings with 7.3 strikeouts per 9, an ERA of 2.77 and an ERA+ of 143.

Its not quite as lopsided as that suggests, mainly because of the large differences between Shea Stadium and Wrigley Field (before the lights.)

Not that voters of the day were giving that much thought. They went "ooooh, 24 wins, ooooh."

I agree with Matthew's point on the usefulness of the Top 100, although as a U of T guy, I am outraged that my old Shakespeare teacher (Northrop Frye) didn't even make the cut, astonished that McLuhan isn't in the top ten, and wondering what John Polanyi has to do to get a little respect. A Nobel Prize isn't good enough?

And Avril Lavigne ahead of Ronnie Hawkins? Let us not speak of it...

(I know Ronnie was born in Arkansas. Sir John A was born in Scotland.)

I also think Sandford Fleming should be higher. And John Molson... I mean doesn't the whole Canadian Way of Life revolve around Molson's legacy?
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 01:58 PM EST (#17544) #
Magpie, that was why I cited the ERA+ stat, which does account for park differences. You'd think that an ERA difference of 1 run per game would matter more than 4 wins and 3 losses, but you (and I) would think wrong.

Was I imagining things, or is there no Oscar Peterson there?
_Vern - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:06 PM EST (#17545) #
Magpie, what class/year did you take with Northrop Frye?
_Vern - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:06 PM EST (#17546) #
And where's the love for Alan Thicke?
_Magpie - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:16 PM EST (#17547) #
I didn't see Oscar either...

At least Glenn Gould was there.

You know, if you're Joni Mitchell, how do you feel about Avril Lavigne placing like 53 places ahead of you? I do all this great work for thirty years, and this is what I get? Is it revenge for leaving Saskatchewan and settling in California?

The difference between Avril Lavigne and Andy Kim. Discuss. No, don't bother.

I have a lot of respect for Stan Rogers, but his early death leaves us with just the fragment of a life's work. Whereas Bruce Cockburn...

Walker or Jenkins - its a little hard to get a handle on just how good Walker has been, because we're all a little suspicious of the Coors effect. And he was active during the best era for hitters in some sixty years. And there may also be Peak Value vs Career Value issues in play as well. Walker's been awfully good, but there is probably an awful lot of air to be let out of the very remarkable numbers he's put up.

So I'll go with Jenkins. The Robin Roberts of his time. Probably not quite as good as Roberts, but close.
Craig B - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:17 PM EST (#17548) #
My personal list from a very limited background ( only five places being able to fill ): Pierre Trudeu, M. Mc Luhan, Glenn Gould, Emily Carr and Louis Riel.

I think I'm going to burn a CD of Stompin' Tom and send it down to jabonoso. :)
_Magpie - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:23 PM EST (#17549) #
I did ENG212 in 1982-83 with Frye and Alexander Leggatt; as I recall Frye lectured on Monday, Leggatt on Wednesday, and on Friday we broke into small groups for seminars (our group was led by a then-grad-student named Lionel Pilkington, who's now at Trinity College in Dublin.)

We were all a little in awe of The Great Man, I must admit. Especially when he sat in on our seminars. A dozen students, too scared to speak.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:39 PM EST (#17550) #
Well, at least Joni's got her star outside Roy Thomson Hall. Avril probably gets a sign up on the outskirts of Napanee: "Welcome to Napanee, home of Avril Lavigne".

On a kinder note, it does take 10-15 years to get some perspective on a career.
_Donkit R.K. - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 02:46 PM EST (#17551) #
There's too many problems with the list to go into details, but I am ecstatic that Stan Rogers is on there - not even all that concerned with where he is just pleasantly surprised that he's there. 45 Years is beautiful, Barret's Privateers is what it is, The Field Behind The Plow is underrated, and coming from Northern Cape Breton songs like Make and Break Harbour mean a lot to me. That is , by no means, a comprehensive list of his best work but they're the first four songs that jump out for me. He is deifnitely one of my fantasy concerts, rated highly ... everyone falls behind Johnny Cash, though, as far as that is concerned...
_Magpie - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 03:06 PM EST (#17552) #
I'm sure not complaining that Stan Rogers is being remembered, just that it seems odd when someone else is overlooked.

Speaking of Canadian songwriters, is Robbie Robertson disqualified because he wrote one of the great songs about the American Civil War? A little respect for the guy who wrote "Acadian Driftwood" wouldn't be out of line either.
_Donkit R.K. - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 05:01 PM EST (#17553) #
I understand that, Magpie - I wasn't attacking your opinion just giving mine. That was my opinion and intended post before reading yours.
_Pete Warren - Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 09:43 PM EST (#17554) #
Troy Percival has signed a 2 year deal with the Tigers
_Vern - Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 08:30 AM EST (#17555) #
Ahh, a little before my time then, Magpie. I thought we might have been in the same class by slight chance.
_Magpie - Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 09:57 AM EST (#17556) #
It was my first year and while ENG212 was technically a second-year course, I was afraid Frye would retire (he was about 70 by then) or at least abandon teaching undergraduates. But I think he was still doing his Shakespeare lectures when I graduated...
_Scooter - Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 10:22 AM EST (#17557) #
I know Norrie was still teaching his VIC "Great Code" course when he died in 1991 -- I don't know about Shake.

Arguably he should even be higher on the list than McLuhan not just for his writing and teaching, but also all his work on education, on (love 'em or hate 'em) the CRTC, and for convincing everyone to take Canadian literature seriously.

And if we're calling Alexander Graham Bell a Canadian for spending a few years living here, then I think we get to call Paul Molitor a Canadian for the baseball list...
robertdudek - Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 10:46 AM EST (#17558) #
If Bell was a Canadian, Samuel de Champlain should have got some consideration.
_Wunderbat - Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 12:03 PM EST (#17559) #
Concerning young canadians, whatever happened to Jeff Zimmerman? I remember he was lights out as a rookie, and I think even went to the all-star game. Then he got injured and dissappeared. Anyone know where he is now?
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