clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Canada’s contributions to the Yankees

New, comments

On Canada Day, let’s look at the best Canucks to wear pinstripes.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays-Workouts Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are, that hot day in early July where people from the Atlantic to Pacific gather for barbecues, fireworks, parades and citizenship ceremonies. While spending the holiday with family and friends, we help reaffirm our shared national values. I’m speaking of course, of Canada Day, which is today, July 1st.

This is the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, and being such an important milestone in my country’s history, I thought it would be fun to look back on the best Canadians to play for the New York Yankees.

Russell Martin, Catcher

This is the one we all remember. Martin joined the Yankees in 2011 after being non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although he’s become one of the finest catchers of his generation, the East York, Ontario native was a bit of a disappointment in his two years in the Bronx. He accrued 4.4 fWAR in 258 games, but managed to throw out 38% of stolen base attempts.

Martin’s best moment in the Bronx probably came on August 25, 2011, when he, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson all recorded grand slams in a 22-9 smashing of the Oakland Athletics.

Martin left the Yankees after the 2012 season, signing a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates before netting the largest free agent contract in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise, where he currently plays.

George Selkirk, Outfielder

Born in Huntsville, Ontario, Selkirk worked his way through the minors and independent leagues before being signed by the Yankees in 1930. Andrew Mearns did a great profile on Selkirk back in March, including the story of his “big break”: a catastrophic injury to Hall of Fame outfielder Earl Combs.

Over parts of eight seasons with the Yankees, Selkirk was consistently excellent, posting a career 128 wRC+ and 23.7 fWAR. He was never fully recognized for how great a player he was, largely due to the emergence of another star outfielder named Joe DiMaggio. Probably the best Canadian player pre-integration, Selkirk finished his career with four World Series championships and was inducted into St Mary’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

Paul Quantrill, Relief Pitcher

Before Martin was a good player who wasn’t so good with the Yankees, there was London, Ontario native Quantrill. The right-handed reliever made an All Star appearance in 2001, and was well known for having terrific control while throwing more than 50 innings with regularity.

Coming off three strong seasons with the Blue Jays and Dodgers, Quantrill signed a two-year deal with the Yankees prior the 2004 campaign. If you’re looking for positives from his stint with the Yankees, he posted below career-average BB/9 rates in parts of two seasons.

He also gave up the game winning home run to David Ortiz in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS, to cap a 4.72 ERA season. After an even worse 2005, Quantrill was dealt mid-season to the Padres and retired seven months later.

Ryan Dempster, Starting Pitcher

Dempster never actually played for the Yankees, but the British Columbia product was an integral part of one of my favorite memories in recent Yankees’ history: the A-Rod Game.

More that just hitting, and then being hit, Ryan Dempster is notable for having his career end twice. After retiring initially in 2013, he returned to baseball for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, where he and Eric Gagne sort-of-but-didn’t audition for major league comebacks.

Honorable Mentions

Rob Thomson, current Yankees bench coach and former third base coach, is from Sarnia, Ontario. Thomson may count as a dishonorable mention for all those who remember his questionable decisions sending runners home. There’s also Evan Rutckyj, a left handed relief pitcher who was in the low minors and released earlier this year from Double-A Trenton.