Ferguson Jenkins

Ferguson Arthur "Fergie" Jenkins[lower-alpha 1] CM (born December 13, 1942)[1] is a Canadian former professional baseball pitcher and coach. He played Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1965 to 1983 for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox.

Ferguson Jenkins
Jenkins in 1973
Born: (1942-12-13) December 13, 1942
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 10, 1965, for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
September 26, 1983, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Win–loss record284–226
Earned run average3.34
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Vote75.4% (third ballot)

Jenkins played the majority of his career for the Cubs. He was a National League (NL) and Cubs All-Star for three seasons, and in 1971, he was the first Canadian and Cubs pitcher to win a Cy Young Award. He was a 20-game winner for seven seasons, including six consecutive seasons for the Cubs. He was the NL leader in wins, in 1971, and the American League (AL) leader in wins, in 1974. Jenkins was also the NL leader in complete games in 1967, 1970, and 1971, and the AL leader in complete games in 1974. He led the NL in strikeouts in 1969 and had over 3,000 strikeouts during his career. His 284 victories are the most by a black pitcher in major league history.[2]

Jenkins also played basketball in the off-season for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1967 to 1969, and pitched two seasons in Canada for the minor league London Majors following his major league career.[3] Jenkins became the first Canadian to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991; he remained the only one until Larry Walker's election in 2020.[4]

Early life

Jenkins was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, the only child of Delores Jackson and Ferguson Jenkins Sr.[3][5] His father, a chef and chauffeur,[6] was the son of immigrants from Barbados, while his mother was a descendant of American slaves who escaped through the Underground Railroad before settling in Southwestern Ontario.[3][5] Both of his parents were good athletes; his father was an amateur boxer and semi-professional baseball player for the Chatham Coloured All-Stars.[5]

A talented athlete, Jenkins competed in track and field, ice hockey, and basketball in his school years, lettering five times. When he began playing bantam baseball in his teens, he started out as a first baseman. He honed his pitching skills by throwing pieces of coal from a local coal yard, aiming at either an open ice chute or the gaps of passing boxcars.[3] He was also encouraged to continue working on his pitching by Gene Dziadura, a former shortstop in the Chicago Cubs minor league system, and a Philadelphia Phillies scout. Many training sessions involving the two followed, until Jenkins graduated from high school.

Professional baseball

Early seasons

In 1962, Jenkins was signed by Philadelphia Phillies scout Tony Lucadello.[3] Jenkins made his major-league debut as a 22-year-old in 1965, as a relief pitcher. He was traded the following year to the Chicago Cubs, along with Adolfo Phillips and John Herrnstein, for pitchers Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl. Jenkins would become one of the best pitchers in the majors. In his first full year as a starter for the Cubs (1967), Jenkins recorded 20 wins while posting a 2.80 ERA and 236 strikeouts. He finished tied for second in the Cy Young Award voting, following Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants. He was also selected for the All-Star Game for the first time that season.

The following year his numbers improved; once again he won 20 games, his ERA dropped to 2.63 and his strikeout total increased to 260. Jenkins established a reputation for achieving his pitching feats and his statistics while spending most of his career pitching in a "hitter's ballpark"—Wrigley Field in Chicago.[7] Furthermore, in 1968, Jenkins lost five of his starts in 1–0 ballgames.

1971 season

Jenkins had his best season in 1971. On April 6, 1971, Jenkins started the Cubs' opening-day game. The Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 2–1 in 10 innings at Wrigley Field. Jenkins pitched the complete game for the Cubs, and Billy Williams hit a home run in the final inning for the victory.[8] On September 1, 1971, Jenkins threw another complete game against the Montreal Expos and hit two home runs. The Cubs won the game 5–2.[9] He was named NL Player of the Month (for the only time in his career) in July, with a 6–1 record, a 2.14 ERA, and 49 strikeouts.

That season, Jenkins threw a complete game in 30 of 39 starts and received a decision in 37 of them, finishing with a 24–13 record (.649). He walked only 37 batters versus 263 strikeouts across 325 innings.[10] He played in the All-Star Game and finished seventh in MVP voting. Jenkins also posted a .478 slugging percentage, hitting six home runs and driving in 20 runs in just 115 at-bats.

Jenkins won the 1971 NL Cy Young Award. Jenkins was the first Cubs pitcher and the first Canadian to win the Cy Young Award (Quebec native Éric Gagné is the only other Canadian to match the feat). He received 17 of 24 first-place votes. He was outpitched in several statistical categories by New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver, but Jenkins pitched in hitter-friendly Wrigley Field and Seaver worked in pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium.

Later seasons

In 1972, Jenkins completed his sixth consecutive season with 20 or more wins.[11] By the middle of the following season, he expressed that he did not feel like playing baseball anymore. He finished the season, but registered a 14–16 win–loss record.

Jenkins was traded from the Cubs to the Texas Rangers for Bill Madlock and Vic Harris on October 25, 1973.[12] Texas manager Billy Martin was pleased with the trade, describing Jenkins as a workhorse and a winner.[13] In 1974, Jenkins achieved a personal best 25 wins during the season, setting a Rangers franchise record which still stands. He finished second in Cy Young Award voting for the second time in his career behind Catfish Hunter in a very close vote (90 points to Jenkins's 75); surprisingly, Jenkins actually finished ahead of Hunter in MVP voting (118 points to Hunter's 107), and his fifth-place finish on the MVP leader-board was the highest of his career. He was named the American League Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News.

Jenkins achieved his 250th win against the Oakland Athletics on May 23, 1980. Later that year, during a customs search in Toronto, Jenkins was found possessing 3.0 grams cocaine, 2.2 grams hashish, and 1.75 grams marijuana. In response, on September 8, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended him indefinitely. However, Jenkins' suspension lasted only two weeks before, in an unprecedented action, an independent arbiter, Raymond Goetz, overturned the suspension and reinstated him and he returned to the league. Eventually, when he went to trial, the judge gave him an absolute discharge for lack of some evidence.[14] Jenkins was not punished further by MLB for the incident, as he remained active until his retirement following the 1983 season. It has been suggested that this incident delayed his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[15]

Minor league

Jenkins continued playing professional baseball in Canada after retiring from MLB in 1983 and pitched two seasons for the London Majors, a minor league team of the Intercounty Major Baseball League, operating in London, Ontario.


Jenkins in 1997

Jenkins ran for the Ontario Liberal Party in the 1985 Ontario general election, in the riding of Windsor—Riverside, but placed third with 15% of the vote behind the NDP's Dave Cooke.[16]


Jenkins led the league in wins twice (1971, 1974), fewest walks per 9 innings five times, complete games nine times, and home runs allowed seven times. He led the league in strikeouts once (1969, with 273). His streak of six straight seasons with 20 or more wins (1967–1972) is the longest streak in the major leagues since Warren Spahn performed the feat between 1956 and 1961.

Jenkins, fellow Cub Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martínez are the only major league pitchers to ever record more than 3,000 strikeouts with fewer than 1,000 walks.[17] Only Robin Roberts and Jamie Moyer allowed more home runs over a career than Jenkins. Jenkins achieved his 3,000th strikeout on May 25, 1982, against Garry Templeton.

As a hitter, Jenkins posted a .165 batting average (148-for-896) with 54 runs, 13 home runs, 85 RBI and 41 bases on balls. Defensively, he recorded a .954 fielding percentage.[10]

He is considered the anchor of the 12 Black Aces, a group of pitchers with at least 20 wins in one season.

Honours and awards

Ferguson Jenkins's number 31 was retired by the Chicago Cubs in 2009.

In 1974, Jenkins, then with the Texas Rangers, became the first baseball player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy, an award given annually to Canada's top athlete. He was also named the Canadian Press male athlete of the year four times (1967, 1968, 1971, and 1974).

Jenkins was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 1991, became the first Canadian ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.[18] The 1991 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, held in Toronto, was dedicated to Jenkins; he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to conclude the pregame ceremonies. Jenkins was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1995,[19] and was inducted onto Canada's Walk of Fame in 2001. He was appointed the commissioner of the now-defunct Canadian Baseball League in 2003; the league's Jenkins Cup went missing when the league folded and has been missing ever since.[20] He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2011, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame created the Ferguson Jenkins Heritage Award in his honour to commemorate those one-of-a-kind events or special moments in time that so embellish the long history of sports in Ontario.[21]

On December 17, 1979, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada for being "Canada's best-known major-league baseball player".[22] Governor General Michaëlle Jean officiated at his investiture into the Order, which finally occurred on May 4, 2007, more than 27 years after he was appointed.[23] On May 3, 2009, the Cubs retired jersey number 31 in honor of both Jenkins and Greg Maddux.[24] On December 13, 2010, Canada Post announced Jenkins would be honoured in Canada with his own postage stamp. The stamp was issued on February 1, 2011, to commemorate Black History Month.[25] On May 20, 2022, Jenkins was honored with a statue outside Wrigley Field. [26]

See also


  1. While Jenkins's father became known as Ferguson Jenkins Sr., father and son had different middle names.


  1. "The Fergie Jenkins Foundations". fergiejenkinsfoundation.org. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  2. Weiner, Allen (November 21, 2016). "MLB: Every Black Pitcher Who Has Won the Cy Young Award". Sportscasting.com. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  3. "Ferguson Jenkins Jr". Who's Who in Black Canada. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
  4. "Fergie Jenkins". National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  5. Breaking The Colour Barrier University of Windsor. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  6. Ferguson Jenkins Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  7. Pashko, Stanley (1975). Ferguson Jenkins: The Quiet Winner. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  8. "St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Box Score, April 6, 1971 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  9. "Montreal Expos at Chicago Cubs Box Score, September 1, 1971 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  10. "Fergie Jenkins Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  11. Engelhardt, Gordon (September 7, 2013). "Jenkins, Fingers 'still fit' their legendary status in baseball". Evansville Courier & Press. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  12. "Padres Get McCovey," The New York Times, Friday, October 26, 1973. Retrieved November 28, 2020
  13. "Cubs trade Jenkins to Texas for youth". The Rochester Sentinel. October 26, 1973. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  14. 1919 Black Sox Archived August 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  15. Able, Allen (July 15, 1991 – August 26, 2006). "Fergie Jenkins, 1st Cdn. in Baseball Hall of Fame". The Journal. Archives, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  16. Nidetz, Steve (May 1, 1985). "Chicago State Has Some Big Plans". Chicago Tribune.
  17. Nemec, David; Flatow, Scott (April 2008). Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures (2008 ed.). New York: A Signet Book, Penguin Group. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0.
  18. "The Hall of Famers: Ferguson Arthur Jenkins". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on July 27, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  19. "Ferguson Jenkins". oshof.ca. Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 1, 2021. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  20. Macklin, Bob. "CBL receivership not a fall classic". Vancouver Courier. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  21. "Ferguson Jenkins Heritage Award". oshof.ca. Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  22. "Honours Order of Canada Ferguson Jenkins, C.M." Members of the Order of Canada. Governor General of Canada. March 30, 2006. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  23. "Jenkins gets Order of Canada". Toronto Star. The Canadian Press. May 4, 2007. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  24. "Cubs to Retire No. 31". ESPN. Associated Press. March 18, 2009.
  25. "Ferguson Jenkins gets stamp in Canada". ESPN. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  26. "Chicago Cubs unveil statue of Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins outside Wrigley Field". ESPN. May 20, 2022. Retrieved May 20, 2022.

Further reading

  • Jenkins, Fergie, with Lew Freedman (2009). Fergie: My Life from the Cubs to Cooperstown. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-60078-171-3

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