Fergie Jenkins is the son of a Barbadian immigrant to Canada and a descendant of American slaves who escaped to Ontario via the Underground Railroad.
He’s the anchor for the Black Aces, a group of black Major League Baseball pitchers who won 20 or more games in a single season. He met that milestone every year from 1967 to 1972.
He’s the first Canadian to win the Cy Young Award and to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; he had, of course, already been named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
He’s a member of the 3,000 strikeout club.
His career ERA is 3.34, much of that from pitching in Wrigley Field in Chicago, considered to be a hitter’s park.
He’s still well known. The Cubs–for whom he played from 1966 to 1973 and again from 1982 – 1983–have him as one of the attractions at Spring Training, signing baseballs and memorabilia for a fee.
Oh yeah, and this natural athlete (who excelled at track and field, hockey, and basketball in high school) also played two off-seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Fergy Jenkins grew up in Chatham, Ontario. Howard, a cousin of my dad was a part-time scout for the Detroit Tigers. When I was about 23 I went with Howard to see Fergy play. He would be about 18 at these time. Howard recommended to the Tigers that they sign him. They passed. The Chicago Cubs signed him. The rest, as they say, is history.
One superb Canadian athlete!
Tom – One of the best parts of this project is hearing about these unexpected links of National Treasures to people in my circle. That’s a great story – I hope someone gave Howard credit for his good judgement later.
I’m sure they did.
I should have added that Janice grew up in Chatham. The Jenkins family went to the same church â€“ Park Street United. Fergy sang in the junior choir there.
Tom – A double connection – thanks!