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Ferguson Jenkins


How Ferguson Jenkins reached the pinnacle of baseball

Ferguson Jenkins Junior, now popularly known as Fergie, is the only Canadian to be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, and he did so by turning the tables on the history of racism in North America.

His father's ancestors immigrated to Canada from Barbados. His mother's lineage traces back to the Underground Railroad, where they travelled up through Kentucky, and then Ohio, before making their way up to Ontario to escape the horrors and injustices of the slave trade. Fergie's parents were his role models and greatest influence, and they were good athletes in their own right. Ferguson Senior played semi-pro ball for an all-black team called the Black Panthers, and due to racial segregation was never given the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. A generation later, Ferguson Junior had that opportunity after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League baseball in 1947.

One tool Fergie used to have so much success was goal setting. Prior to each season he would write down his goals: the number of innings he wanted to pitch, the number of wins he wanted that season, the number of completed games he wanted, and also to win the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in the League. He would then place his goals in an envelope. Then, on the last of day of the 162 game schedule, he would open the envelope to see if he achieved his goals. "I always set goals... set your goals high... and try to achieve them," said the Chatham, Ontario born pitcher. Fergie achieved most of his goals, including winning the Cy Young Award in 1971.

Fergie Jenkins is a man that is proud of his heritage and family, and he helped to turn a personal legacy of racial injustice into success by setting his goals high. Fergie never wrote in his pre-season envelope that he wanted to be a champion for the Black community in Canada. But perhaps it is his most significant achievement.

first day covers with image of Ferguson Jenkins
In 2010 Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp with the image of Ferguson Jenkins in honour of Black History month. The stamp has a young Jenkins on the mound for the Chicago Cubs with a modern photo behind it. Ferguson Jenkins is a strong supporter of Black Heritage groups and charitable causes. He started a charitable foundation in order to serve humanitarian needs.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

leather baseball glove signed by Ferguson Jenkins
Ferguson Jenkins pitched his first game in the major league as a relief pitcher in 1965 and won the game. He called his parents so he could share this victory to his number one fans. He was the first Canadian to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has opened the doors for other Canadians to receive this honour in the future.
Collection: Private Collection: Ferguson Jenkins

mounted baseball with plaque which reads Ferguson Jenkins, Win No. 98, May 15, 1971
Before spring training started in 1971 Ferguson Jenkins put his stats and the goals he wanted to achieve that season in an envelope. He put his goals high - to win 20+ ball games, to pitch 300 innings, to lead the League in strike outs and to win the Cy Young Award. He reached almost all of his goals through his hard work and commitment. This ball is from his 98th win on May 15, 1971.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

photograph of Ferguson Jenkins pitching
Ferguson Jenkins started playing baseball in the PeeWee League in his hometown of Chatham. His teacher became his mentor and showed him: "if this is what you really want to do you have to work at it, you have to practice, you have to whole heartedly understand that this is part of the game you want to play. You have to do it well if you want to be successful". (quote from interview with Ferguson Jenkins, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, Feb. 15, 2007)
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

portrait photograph of Ferguson Jenkins wearing Chicago Cubs uniform
Ferguson Jenkins always set his goals high throughout his whole career, even when playing sports in high school. "If you set your goals high, you've got to try to achieve them." His reached his goals because he believed that to play the game right and achieve what your capabilities are required hard work and focus.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

photograph of Manny McIntyre posed in hockey uniform
Manny McIntyre started playing competitive hockey in Northern Ontario. He was a member of the first all-black line in professional hockey known as the "Black Aces" with team members Herb and Ossie Carnegie. If it was not for the colour barrier they could have played on any NHL team. Manny was respected for his courage and creating a positive atmosphere for all members of the team.
Collection: New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

photograph of Manny McIntyre throwing baseball
Vincent Churchill 'Manny' McIntyre challenged the racial barriers in ice hockey and baseball while playing in the 1940's. He became the first Black Canadian to play professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals farm team. He was known as a kind and generous man but a fierce competitor.
Collection: New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

photograph of Barbara Howard running in race
Barbara Howard was known as one of the fastest sprinters in the British Empire and was the first female black athlete to represent Canada. She competed at the 1938 British Empire Games at the age of 17, having only starting competing in track and field when she started high school. At the British Empire Games she showed her strength, focus and sense of team play, winning medals in the relay events.
Collection: British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame

portrait photograph of Barbara Howard
Barbara Howard had a passion to work with children and become a physical education teacher. In 1941 she achieved her goal of earning her degree and became the first member of a visible minority to be hired as a teacher in the Vancouver school board. Her dedication and perseverance has made her a role model for all her students and future generations.
Collection: British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame

competition medals on wood shield shaped plaque
Barbara Howard was inspired to become a track and field athlete by her uncle, who was a tracks star himself. Her leadership as a black athlete opened the doors to others, ensuring that any level of competition is open to all.
Collection: Private Collection: Barbara Howard

posed photograph of George Reed with football
George Reed started playing football in high school and used it as a means to achieve his university education. He played thirteen seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders team and won the Grey Cup in 1966. He was known and respected for his work ethic and his commitment to the team, using any defeat on the field to work with his teammates to play as one unit.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

white and green football jersey with REED / 34
George Reed strongly believed that athletes have a responsibility to share with the community. In 1976 he was the first recipient of the Tom Pate Award to recognize CFL players who had demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship and made a significant contribution to their team and community. At that time he was working with 47 different community groups, including his own George Reed Foundation for the handicapped.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

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