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Sun, 12.13.1942

Ferguson Jenkins, Baseball Player born

Ferguson Jenkins

*Ferguson Jenkins was born on this date in 1942.  He is a former Black Canadian professional baseball pitcher and coach.  

Ferguson Arthur "Fergie" Jenkins was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, the only child of Delores Jackson and Ferguson Jenkins Sr. His father, a chef and chauffeur, was the son of immigrants from Barbados; his mother was a descendant of American slaves who escaped through the Underground Railroad before settling in Southwestern Ontario. Both his parents were athletes; his father was an amateur boxer and semi-professional baseball player for the Chatham Colored All-Stars.  

A talented athlete, Jenkins competed in track and field, ice hockey, and basketball in his school years, lettering five times. He started as a first baseman when he began playing bantam baseball in his teens. He honed his pitching skills by throwing pieces of coal from a local coal yard, aiming at either an open ice chute or the gaps of passing boxcars. Gene Dziadura, a former shortstop in the Chicago Cubs minor league system and a Philadelphia Phillies scout, encouraged him to continue working on his pitching. Many training sessions involving the two followed until Jenkins graduated from high school.  He played Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox (1965–1983).  

Jenkins played the majority of his career for the Cubs. He was a National League (NL) and Cubs All-Star for three seasons, and in 1971, he was the first Canadian and Cubs pitcher to win a Cy Young Award. He was a 20-game winner for seven seasons, including six consecutive seasons for the Cubs. He was the NL leader in wins in 1971 and the American League (AL) leader in wins in 1974. He was also the NL leader in complete games in 1967, 1970, and 1971 and the AL leader in complete games in 1974. He led the NL in strikeouts in 1969 and had over 3,000 during his career.  

Jenkins also played basketball in the off-season for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1967 to 1969. Following his major league career, he pitched two seasons in Canada for the minor league London Majors. Jenkins led the league in wins twice (1971, 1974), fewest walks per 9 innings five times, complete games nine times, and home runs allowed seven times. He led the league in strikeouts once (1969, with 273). His streak of six straight seasons with 20 or more wins (1967–1972) is the longest in the major leagues since Warren Spahn performed the feat between 1956 and 1961.  Jenkins, fellow Cub Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martínez are the only major league pitchers to record more than 3,000 strikeouts with fewer than 1,000 walks. Only Robin Roberts and Jamie Moyer allowed more home runs over a career than Jenkins. Jenkins achieved his 3,000th strikeout on May 25, 1982, against Garry Templeton.  

As a hitter, Jenkins posted a .165 batting average (148-for-896) with 54 runs, 13 home runs, 85 RBI, and 41 bases on balls. Defensively, he recorded a .954 fielding percentage.  He ran for the Ontario Liberal Party in the 1985 Ontario general election in the riding of Windsor—Riverside but placed third behind the NDP's Dave Cooke. He is the anchor of the 12 Black Aces, a group of pitchers with at least 20 wins in one season.  Jenkins was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 1991, he became the first Canadian ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. 

The 1991 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, held in Toronto, was dedicated to Jenkins; he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to conclude the pregame ceremonies. Jenkins was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and Canada's Walk of Fame in 2001. He was appointed the commissioner of the now-defunct Canadian Baseball League in 2003; the league's Jenkins Cup went missing when the league folded and has been missing ever since. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2011, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame created the Ferguson Jenkins Heritage Award in his honor to commemorate those one-of-a-kind events or special moments in time that embellish the long history of sports in Ontario.  

On December 17, 1979, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada for being "Canada's best-known major-league baseball player." Governor-General Michaëlle Jean officiated at his investiture into the Order, which finally occurred on May 4, 2007, Over 27 years after he was appointed. On May 3, 2009, the Cubs retired jersey number 31 in honor of both Jenkins and Greg Maddux. On December 13, 2010, Canada Post announced Jenkins would be honored in Canada with his postage stamp. The stamp was issued on February 1, 2011, to commemorate Black History Month.

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