Canadian Baseball Hall-of-Famer Pat Gillick is Senior Advisor with Phillies
St. Marys – It may be tough to predict the winner of the 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, but Canadians can be assured that one of their native sons will be sporting a ring when it is all over. Phillies’ pinch-hitter extraordinaire Matt Stairs will be trying to knock in key late-inning runs with his bat, while third base coach Rob Thomson will be trying to wave home Yankee after Yankee in attempting to lead New York to its first title since 2000. A third Canadian element is Hall-of-Famer Pat Gillick, who brought Stairs to the Phillies, and currently serves as Senior Advisor to the President/General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.
Stairs, 41, may see more action in games 1, 2, 6, and 7, since those games are played in Yankee Stadium, where the designated hitter will be used in the batting order since it is an American League ballpark. Pitchers must hit for themselves in National League cities. The Phillies will host games 3, 4, and 5.
The St. John-born, Tay River-housed, Fredericton-raised, New Brunswicker, who became the 15th Canadian to play in a World Series last year, has had four pinch-hit at bats so far in the 2009 playoffs, resulting in a pair of walks. One of those walks happened to be with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth inning of game 4 of the NLCS, at the mercy of Dodgers ace closer Jonathon Broxton. It resembled the scenario a year ago when Stairs hit a game 4 series-altering pinch-hit homerun off of Broxton in Dodger Stadium. But this time, with the Dodgers playing in Philadelphia leading by a score of 4-3, Broxton did not give Stairs a chance to repeat the feat, walking him in four straight pitches. Eric Bruntlett pinch-ran for Stairs, and Broxton promptly beaned Carlos Ruiz with the next pitch. After retiring pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs, the stage was set for Jimmy Rollins, who drilled a two-out, two-run, walk-off triple. By simply standing in the batters’ box, Stairs had ignited yet another crushing game 4 loss for the Dodgers.
Stairs, who along with Larry Walker are the only Canadians to hit more than 250 career homeruns, becomes the lone survivor of the five Canadian players who made it to the post-season, outlasting Russell Martin (Los Angeles Dodgers), Jason Bay (Boston Red Sox), Jesse Crain (Minnesota Twins) and Blake Hawksworth (St. Louis Cardinals). Justin Morneau (Twins) and Jeff Francis (Colorado Rockies) were with their clubs entering the playoffs but unable to play due to injuries, and Red Sox back-up catcher George Kottaras was left off of their playoff roster.
Thomson, 46, is in his 20th year with the Yankee organization. He was drafted in 1985 by the Detroit Tigers, and was a catcher and third baseman in the Tigers system and became a minor league coach in 1988. He joined the Yankees in 1990 as a third base coach for their Class-A affiliate in Fort Lauderdale, and remained a coach and manager in their minor league system until moving to the front office in 1998 as a field coordinator. He was promoted to director of player development in 2000, and named vice president of minor league development in 2003. Thomson became a member of the Yankees’ Major League coaching staff in November of that same year.
Due to an illness to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the Sarnia native made history on April 4, 2008 when Thomson became the first Canadian to manage a Major League game since Gibson managed the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. Thomson managed two more games that year as a result of a pair of Girardi ejections.
Other Canadians who have played in the World Series, which officially began in 1903, include: Eric Gagné and Francis (2007), Walker (2004), Rob Butler (1993), Reggie Cleveland (1975), Ron Taylor (1964 and 1969), John Hiller (1968), Johnny Rutherford (1952), George “Twinkletoes” Selkirk (1936-39 and 1941-42), Jack Graney (1920), Larry McLean (1913), George “Moonie” Gibson (1909), Jimmy Archer (1907 and 1910) and Bill O’Neill (1906).
The list of World Series champion Canucks shrinks even more, as only O’Neill, Gibson, Graney, Selkirk (five times), Hiller, Taylor (twice), Butler , Gagné, and Stairs have won a ring.
Selkirk has played the most World Series games (21), amassing a .265 batting average (18-for-68), two homeruns, one triple, two doubles, 11 runs, 10 RBI, a .367 on-base percentage, and a .412 slugging percentage. Walker had five hits including a pair of homeruns and three RBI in compiling a .357 batting average over four World Series games. McLean has a career .500 World Series batting average with six hits over five games.
In the homer department, only two Canadians have ever hit a homerun in World Series action. Walker, in 2004, homered in Game 1 v. Tim Wakefield, and again in Game 3 v. Keith Foulke. In 1936, Selkirk homered in Game 1 v. Carl Hubbell and again in Game 5 v. Hal Schumacher.
Pitching-wise, Taylor has a career 0.00 ERA in World Series action, having pitched in seven innings over a span of four games, striking out five and never allowing a hit.
Only one Canadian in history, Paul Quantrill, has played for both the Yankees and Phillies organizations.
Other Canucks who have worn the Yankees uniform include Selkirk, Russell Ford, Pete Ward, Aaron Guiel, Dave Pagan, Frank Colman, Ralph Buxton and Jim Cockman.
Besides Stairs and Quantrill, the Canadians who have toiled for the Phillies consist of Rheal Cormier, Arthur Irwin, George Wood, Rob Ducey, Doc Miller, Oscar Judd, Glen Gorbous, Butler, Gus Dugas, Justin Jay Clarke, Dave Shipanoff, Bill Magee, Pete Laforest, Scott Mathieson, Fergie Jenkins, Joe Knight, Jim Pirie, Paul Spoljaric, Gene Vadeboncoeur, RJ Swindle, and Pete Wood.
Source: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum
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