James’ Brand New Blog

Happy 29th to me & memories of covering Fergie Jenkins

- January 9th, 2013

fergie jenkins all-star

Undated file photo: Pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox, Fergie Jenkins won 284 games, lost 226 and struck out 3,192 batters, a feat that lines up with 3,000 career hits.

Twenty-nine years ago today etc. . . . . I returned after a few years pursuing other delights to The Free Press, this time as a sports reporter. It is a little amazing to think of being there on Jan. 9, 2013  but it’s been a good ride.

My memories of that first summer in 1984 are tied up with Fergie Jenkins. My first big “scoop” was that Fergie Jenkins, future Hall of Famer, would be playing for the London Majors that season. My more experienced colleagues tolerated my enthusiasm for covering Fergie on a Friday night at Labatt Park with  good-natured amusement . . . even when I somehow buried the news a visiting player had six hits in a game.

Well. Fergie Jenkins was a class act, cheerful in playing I-C ball not long after he had left the majors . . . he once explained he refused to take advantage of hitters around the league, but would challenge them with his fastball instead of going to the curve over & over.

The first night at Labatt Park, to get Fergie quotes in time for Chatham and readers around the region, I went into the Majors’ dugout during the game . . . he was gracious then & always. Like so many other stories I’ve covered over the years, that summer when Fergie Jenkins was a London Major was inspiring to be around & made me proud to be London-region Canadian.

Fergie turned 70 in December. JBNBlog salutes him. What a great Canadian.

As for details: Anybody able to date that file photo of Fergie . . . it must be an all-star game shot.

My career since 1984 could be charted on a snakes & ladders board . . . some ups, some slides — but just thinking back quickly, here are some highlights: The ball going through Bill Buckner’s glove, legs etc in the 1986 World Series . . . the Blue Jays beating the Yankees in New York late in the 1985 season . . . meeting Jack Fallon, the London Township bassist/fiddler who played with The Beatles, Duke Ellington & so many others . . . sharing the stage with Mary Lou Fallis & a great cast at the first Great London Songbook in 2007 . . . & Gina Farrugia & Angus Sinclair & friends at the second one in 2010 . . . & seeing Sleater-Kinney at the John Labatt Centre …. & Greg Curnoe & Jack Chambers exhibitions at the AGO . . . being on hand with Lady Beck’s great-great-granddaughter Brooke Hunter when Lilian Ottaway Beck was inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 . . . and talking to London music aces Sonja Gustafson, an acquaintance of more than a decade, & Carly Thomas, a new voice to me, just hours apart . . .

Hey, those conversations with Sonja and Carly were yesterday, Jan. 8, 2013.

Now, it’s Jan. 9, 2013. Let’s see what comes next.

Categories: Entertainment

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