Baseball is big in Canada. We support two major league teams, cross the border to see others, and many of us play some form of the game ourselves. So why aren't there any big name Canadian ballplayers? Is there some strange biological reason they don't breed north of the 49th parallel? Or is it that "the boys of summer" just can't thrive in our cold northern climate?
The answer is, there are Canadian ballplayers out there. There always have been. But no one's ever really paid them much attention.
Now there is Heroes, Bums and Ordinary Men, a showcase of the Canadian talent that has gone down in baseball history. Some made it big, like Chicago Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins, who won the Cy Young Award in 1971. Others didn't quite make it: third-baseman Reno Bertoia began the 1957 season with the league-leading batting percentage, beating out the great Ted Williams, but wasn't able to hang on. Still others have yet to prove their mettle, like Rob Ducey with the Toronto Blue Jays and Larry Walker with the Montreal Expos.
Heroes, Bums and Ordinary Men describes the battle to get there from here. It takes us to the National Baseball Institute in Vancouver, where young players refine their games, and to a tryout camp for the Expos, where all but the best are eliminated. But above all, it is a book of personal, human stories, of players' dreams of the spotlights on major league playing fields, and the moments of glory shared by the few who have got there.
About the author
There are two constants in Dan Turner's life: his family, and baseball. He has been a political reporter in Ottawa for the Citizen, a foreign correspondent in Africa for Maclean's magazine, and a winner of an ACTRA award in 1982 for his feature interviews with the CBC. Dan was also awarded a National Newspaper Award for investigative journalism with the Ottawa Citizen in 1985. But throughout his career he kept a close eye on the box scores and in 1982 his first book, The Expos Inside Out, made the bestseller list.