Chatham native enshrined in 10 sports hall of fames in Canada and U.S.
By Pat Payton
At the recent grand re-opening of the expanded and renovated museum on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame grounds, organizers decided to have ‘a first pitch’ rather than a ribbon-cutting to officially open the impressive facility.
The man tossing the first pitch to CBHFM chair Adam Stephens was none other than Ferguson Jenkins.
“Here at the Hall of Fame, when we have something truly special to celebrate, we call on Fergie Jenkins to be with us,” Stephens said when introducing the Hall of Famer. “Having Fergie present makes these moments even more special and memorable.
“Fergie is Canada’s best-ever baseball player, a Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee (1987), a Cooperstown inductee (1991), and a loyal and dedicated friend of the Hall.”
Jenkins said he is not only proud to be a member of the Hall, but thrilled with the growth of the CBHFM since it came to St. Marys 25 years ago (1994).
“I have a real small part of what the Hall of Fame is all about,” the Chatham native said humbly when he went to the podium. “What they’ve done here, I’m really surprised . . . they’ve done a lot of hard work. If you haven’t visited inside this museum yet, you need to go.
“I had a great career in Major League baseball because I had great teammates. You can’t play the game without good teammates. What I was able to do, maybe the Almighty gave me that opportunity. I had a strong arm . . . and I didn’t have a sore arm in 21 (Major League) seasons. I am so grateful to be part of what the Hall of Fame has done here . . . the Canadian Hall of Fame.
“This is very significant to me. To have a country honour you, as an athlete, I’m very, very proud of that.”
Each summer on stage, Jenkins presents the new Hall of Fame inductees with their jackets and plaques.
Inducted into 10 sports Halls
Most athletes are fortunate to get into one hall of fame after their careers. Jenkins is a member of 10 different hall of fames in Canada and the U.S. In addition to being inducted into the Cooperstown and St. Marys halls, Jenkins is a member of the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, Chatham Sports Hall of Fame, Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, Halifax Sports Hall of Fame, Windsor Sports Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, and Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame (first player honouree 2013).
During his illustrious career (1965 to 1983), the big righthander was named Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year four times, was a National League all-star three times, was the Sporting News National League pitcher of the year in 1971, the National League’s Cy Young award winner in 1971, won the Lou Marsh Award in 1974, and was named to the Order of Canada in 1979.
He was added to Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001, had his No. 31 jersey retired by Chicago Cubs in 2009, and was commemorated on a Canadian postage stamp in 2011. Jenkins also received the Planet Africa Humanitarian Award in 2013.
The newly-refurbished museum at 386 Church St. S., meanwhile, is a must-see. The 2,500 sq. ft. addition cost just over $1 million, and is attached to the existing 1,000 sq. ft. museum.