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Ferguson Jenkins at World Series Club

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 23, 2008

Ferguson Jenkins back in the day

Ferguson Jenkins back in the day

On Dec. 15, 2008, Fergie spoke for 90 minutes at the World Series Club of Greater Hartford’s hot stove league dinner.

The World Series Club of Greater Hartford was founded in 1926.  Early speakers included Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch, Connie Mack & Lefty Gomez.  The club continues  today.  If you can drive to Hartford, you’ll want to experience this.  Go to:  http://www.worldseriesclub.com/index.asp

 

Ferguson Jenkins is an eloquent and dashing figure today at age 65.  His considerable speaking gifts held 240 baseball fans in his palm on Dec. 15 at the W.S.C. of Hartford. 

The mind is sharp, the build still tall and powerful. 

The abundant hair is gone and replaced with a shining, shaven dome.

He was as forceful in bringing the audience back to the 1960’s as he was knocking down MLB batters.   (He hit 84 of them.)

It was completely appropriate on this night that one of the classiest radio personalities anywhere, Arnold Dean of WTIC-AM, introduced Ferguson Jenkins. 

Dean noted Fergie’s 3000+ K’s and few walks (less than 1000) in over 4500 MLB innings; his 20 victories in 6 yrs consecutive, and being named to the list of Top 100 Best BB Players of the 20th Century.

Not to mention his HOF induction in 1991 with Gaylord Perry, Rod Carew, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Veeck.

Ferguson took us back to his beginning – growing up in Chatham, Ontario.  That’s where he played youth hockey with Chico Mackie, Pat Stapleton and Walt Tkachuk    all future NHL players.

Fergie was a hockey star, making the Chatham All Stars.  He was not destined to play hockey though.   After one particularly rough game at age 15, his Mom, who was blind, said “Fergie, hockey won’t work out    because the only things on the ice that are black are you and the puck.  It isn’t meant to be.”

 

Fergie’s mother was a Baptist, and she raised him with discipline.  She told him that if he did not abide in The Lord and read the Bible, he would soon enough meet The Devil.  (“Well, in 1966, I met The Devil.  And it was Leo Durocher.  He had two sayings, ‘If you don’t like it, I’ll back the truck up.’, and ‘Nice Guys finish last.’.”)

Jenkins says he was lucky because he had two parents.  “My Mom always ironed my uniform and had it very clean.  My Dad always told me I had better polish my shoes.  I had black, black spikes.

Look presentable.  Play the way you look.  Always listen to your Coaches.  And Coaches, never talk down to your players.

At Mom’s behest, Fergie took up Baseball.  2 years later he signed a pro contract.

*****

 

Jenkins knows his career achievements like you or I know how our pants size.  4,500 IP.  267 complete games.  Hit 84 batters.  Lost 79 1-run games
Lost 13 games by a score of 1 – 0.  Might have won 350 games with a few breaks, a few more run scored.

Staying healthy is the key, according to Jenkins.  Gibson and Koufax had freak injuries that limited their win totals.  A Clemente liner off the tibia cut Gibby’s career short.  A slide into second base caused the initial damage to Koufax’s elbow.   All you can do is work hard, keep your team in the game, and try to stay healthy, advises Ferguson.

 

Some more advice:  Don’t be afraid to pitch inside.  Knock down the biggest guy on the other team.  If the biggest guy doesn’t charge the mound, the little guys won’t either.

 

NUGGETS

 

The McCovey Story.  It’s 1967 and Willie McCovey is tearing the cover off the ball.  The Cubs go to Candlestick early in the season.  Jenkins pitches well but McCovey smacks a 2-run game-deciding homer.  Cubs & Jenkins lose.  Some time later, the Giants visit Wrigley.  Jenkins pitches well but McCovey hits a bases clearing double for 3 RBI and sure enough, Cubs & Jenkins lose again.  Later in the same season, the Cubs return to San Francisco.  Jenkins and Ernie Banks, roommates, check in at the hotel and are unpacking when their phone rings.  It’s the concierge.  He surprises Fergie when he tells him that their car is waiting.  Fergie tells the concierge to hang on and asks Banks if he ordered a car.  Banks says “No.”.  The baffled Jenkins returns to the phone and asks the concierge, “What’s the significance of the car?   We didn’t order it.”.  And the Concierge said, “Oh, Mr. McCovey wanted to make sure that Mr. Jenkins gets to the ballpark alright.  He paid for the limousine.”

True story.

So they took it to the ballpark.

McCovey went 0-for-3.

*****

The Buffalo Head Gang.  This is how Fergie remembers it.  Mid-September, 1977.  The Red Sox have a 2 game lead on the Yankees with 13 games left.  Zimmer demotes Rick Wise, Bill Lee and Fergie Jenkins himself into the bullpen.   Yankees win.  Sox finish 3rd behind the Orioles. 

Retrosheet.org has it a little differently.  The Yanks have a 3.5 game lead on Aug. 31, 1977.  The Sox go a remarkable 22 – 8 for September.  The Bombers go 19 – 9.    Sox play .733 ball down the stretch and it is not good enough.

What ?  Were they going to win all 30 games with the Buffalo Head Gang in the rotation ?

 

 

Fergie on New York signing Sabathia for $160 million:  He’s not as heavy as he looks, he’s hard as a rock…it will work out…he loses only to the Yankees, he beats every other team in the league….N.Y. will score runs for him…I’d be happy going to the ballpark everyday if I signed that contract.  (In fact, with what rookies make, I want to play again.)

Fergie on the 6 HR’s that he hit in a year:  I got my chance to show what I could do (with a bat) in the NL…if a pitcher made a mistake, I was going to punish him…..Zambrano is one ahead of me in career homers by a pitcher…but I had a 20/20/20 season:  24 wins, 28 hits, and 20 rbi in 1971…..I also hit 2 HR w 3 rbi in a win vs. Montreal……

Favorite Park to Pitch in:  Yellowstone.

The one time he was ejected: (paraphrased) 1972.   I was going to pitch to Henry Aaron, whom I had great success against.  I gave up 2 HR to Hank in 11 years of pitching to him.   (Seaver, in 7 years yielded 11 HR to The Hammer.). With a game on the line, two on, and Aaron at the plate, Whitey Lockman yanked me…I just knew I would have gotten Aaron out.  Of course, the reliever yielded a 2 rbi double on his second pitch.  Game over.  And I just lost it.  I chucked 6 bats onto field and was ejected.  The Cubs sent me to a therapist. 

Best all around Cub:  Billy Williams

Best all around players in the N.L.:  Mays and Clemente.
Best in the A.L.:  Kaline and Carew

Best Fenway Memory:  How Yaz lowered his head but didn’t move any other muscle when an opponent crushed a homer over the monster.

Pete Rose:  we’re not on speaking terms.

Jim Rice in the HOF:  He has the stats, but he never won a championship, and that has held him back.

Baseball strategy today:  Back in the day, the starter pitched every 4th day, went 7 or 8 innings, threw 110 pitches, then handed the ball to a closer. 

Today, we have 5 starter,s each expected to go 6 innings, with 110 pitches. 

Today it is Starter-Holder-Set-up-Closer. 

Back then, the roster held 9 pitchers and 16 position players.  Today, the roster holds 14 pitchers and 11 position players.

That’s where the strategy has gone.

Back in the day:  After a start, here is what your schedule looked like:
Day 1 Off
Day 2 throw BP
Day 3 Throw
Day 4 Start

On knowing your career is done:  You know it.  You feel differently. The fire is gone.

 

Ferguson Jenkins held court for 90 wonderful minutes.  We sang Happy Birthday to him.  He signed autographs for all.  We enjoyed abundant chicken, sausage, pasta, ribs and salad.  Beverages at friendly prices, too.

 

 

The World Series Club of Greater Hartford was founded in 1926 by businessmen who wanted tickets to see the New York Yankees play the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Soon the Club started inviting baseball personalities to speak at off-season dinner meetings.  Speakers in the early years included Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch and Lefty Gomez.  In a meeting celebrating the Club’s 25th anniversary in 1951, the guest speaker was Connie Mack.  The club continues to meet today, holding for 4 to 6 dinners with speakers every off season.   If you are within a reasonable drive of Hartford, you’ll want to experience these dinners.  For more information, go to:  http://www.worldseriesclub.com/index.asp

Fergie more recently

Fergie more recently

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One Response to “Ferguson Jenkins at World Series Club”

  1. […] Ferguson Jenkins at World Series Club « Athomeatfenway […]

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