While Canada has a long history with the game of baseball, hosting semi-professional clubs and outsourcing talent as early as the 1870s, there still have only been just over 250 players from North of the border to have played in the majors. And it wasn't until the 1960s that a superstar emerged: Ferguson "Fergie" Jenkins, from Chatham, Ontario.
Growing up, Jenkins was a multi-sport athlete, taking part in baseball, hockey, basketball, and track. He got his break as a teen, meeting a local named Gene Dziadura, a former minor league shortstop and now-scout for the Phillies, who encouraged Jenkins to focus on, and helped him with, his pitching.
Unsurprisingly, the Phillies ended up signing Jenkins. But after just one season with the big league roster as a relief pitcher, he was traded to the Cubs. By Jenkins' second season in Chicago, he had reached 20 wins, held his ERA under 3.00, and was an All-Star. He would end up posting six straight 20-win seasons from 1967 to 1972.
After eight years with the talented yet under-performing Cubs, Jenkins requested a trade and moved on to Texas. His first year with the Rangers was stellar, as the Canadian reached a league-best 25 wins and had a sub-3.00 ERA for the last time in his career. After that, Jenkins spent eight years hopping between Texas and Boston, before finishing his career up with the Cubs.
In 1991, Fergie Jenkins became the first Canadian player to be voted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It would take 19 more years for a second to join him. Jenkins is also remembered as one of the "Black Aces," a group of 12 Black pitchers with at least one 20-win season in the majors. The Chatham chucker is tops when it comes to that milestone, bringing seven to the table.
Love Fergie? You have to watch this amazing documentary by the National Film Board, which follows his 1972 and '73 seasons. Some incredible content!