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Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins has a strong Oklahoma pedigree

Although Jenkins is from Canada, the Sooner State has played a huge role in his life before and after retirement.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 3, 2012

photo - Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson
Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson "Fergie" Jenkins celebrates his 68th birthday by attending the actual print production run of the Fergie Jenkins postage stamp in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick) ORG XMIT: OTTK104

Ferguson Jenkins goes into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night. In honor of one of baseball's greatest 20-game winners, here are 20 things you ought to know about the man who lived in Guthrie for 17 years.

1. With the Chicago Cubs, Jenkins won at least 20 games in six straight seasons, 1967-72: 20-13, 20-15, 21-15, 22-16, 24-13, 20-12. The Cubs have had three 20-win seasons in the 40 years since 1972.

2. Jenkins is the greatest baseball player ever from Canada. I suppose Larry Walker and Joey Votto win the silver and bronze.

3. While pitching coach with the Oklahoma City 89ers, Jenkins bought a horse ranch outside Guthrie, not because he wanted to try something new. He wanted something familiar. While a Cub, Jenkins would return to Ontario in the off-season and help his dad run their horse ranch.

4. Among the managers Jenkins played for were Gene Mauch, Leo Durocher, Billy Martin and Don Zimmer. Somehow, he missed Dick Williams and Whitey Herzog. The Cubs lost 103 games in 1966. “Every day was a meeting,” Jenkins said. “Every day was Leo Durocher walking up and down the room, letting us know what we did wrong.”

5. Jenkins moved from Oklahoma because his wife was scared to death of tornadoes after the 1999 twisters. What are you going to do?

6. All you have to know about Jenkins' Oklahoma pedigree is this. Oklahoma City's Cal McLish, whose baseball career as a player and coach spanned from commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to Ichiro Suzuki, taught Jenkins how to throw a slider during winter ball in Puerto Rico.

7. Most people assume that the best pitching rotation of the 1970s was the 1971 Baltimore quartet of Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, each of whom won 20 games that season. But baseball historian Bill James says those Birds were second. No. 1 was the 1970 Cubs – Jenkins, Ken Holtzman, Bill Hands and Milt Pappas.

8. Jenkins grew up just outside Chatham, Ontario, which in the 1950s was not so much bigger than modern-day Guthrie. “I was raised in the country, so I was used to small towns, the atmosphere, friendly people,” Jenkins said.

9. Jenkins works for the Cubs, the franchise for which he starred, and still gets back to Chicago on a regular basis. And still is recognized by Cub fans. “Nice to know that people remember you for what you've contributed to the ballclub,” Jenkins said.

10. Jenkins helped Richard Hendricks establish the Oklahoma Sports Museum in Guthrie. Monday night, Hendricks will introduce Jenkins at the Hall of Fame banquet.

11. In the 1967 All-Star Game, the National League trotted out Juan Marichal, Jenkins, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale and Tom Seaver among its seven pitchers. The game went 15 innings. The National League won 2-1. The AL's lone run? Brooks Robinson's one-out home run in the sixth inning, off Jenkins, who pitched three innings.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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