OTD: Chatham-born MLB pitcher inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

On today’s date in 1991, Chatham, Ont.-born Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

In 2011, Canada Post featured Jenkins on a 59-cent multi-coloured stamp (Scott #2434) as part of its Black History Month issue. Printed by the Lowe-Martin Group on Tullis Russell Coatings coated paper using seven-colour lithography, the stamp, which measures 32 mm x 24 mm (horizontal), has simulated perforations and general tagging along each side.

Born on Dec. 13, 1942, Jenkins excelled at sports in school and played bantam baseball as a teenager. Gene Dziadura, a shortstop in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system that scouted for the team, encouraged his pitching abilities. Recognizing Jenkin’s natural abilities, the Phillies signed him in 1962.

Throughout his career, Jenkins would pitch for the Phillies (1965-66); Chicago Cubs (1966-73, 1982-83); Texas Rangers (1974-75, 1978-81); and Boston Red Sox (1976-77). He also played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters in the off-season to stay in shape.

Ferguson was enshrined on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001.

Ferguson was enshrined on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001.

He holds the 12th-highest strikeout total in history (3,192) and earned 49 career shutouts, winning the Cy Young award in 1971.

Jenkins is the only Canadian honoured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2000, he established his charitable foundation, The Fergie Jenkins Foundation. In 2004, he received an honorary doctorate from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and in 2007, he was invested into the Order of Canada.

Designer Lara Minja, of Lime Design, in Victoria, B.C., said: “The determination, strength, integrity and pride of Fergie Jenkins and Carrie Best [who was also commemorated in the issu] are the attributes I aspired to bring to these stamps. The design balances a more recent depiction with an image from the past. A photograph of a more mature Jenkins is overlapped by an image of him on the pitcher’s mound. Carrie Best smiles warmly in her portrait, sitting opposite an image of herself reading the newspaper she established. Both stamps incorporate Order of Canada icons, as well as the names and signatures of Jenkins and Best to personalize the design.”

“In previous Black History issues, due to the eras in which our subjects lived, usable photographs were simply not available,” said Stamp Design Manager Liz Wong. “We were limited to an illustrative approach. Both Best and Jenkins were of a younger generation, so we could choose from a far richer range of imagery.”

An 18-year MLB player, Jenkins’ contributions to sport and accomplishments were groundbreaking for Black athletes in North America.

Jim Philips, director of stamps services at Canada Post, said: “Baseball legend Fergie Jenkins’ hard work on and off the baseball field is well known throughout the world of sport.”

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