Fergie Jenkins

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Fergie Jenkins Born City Ht / Wt Bat / Throw
Ferguson, Arthur Jenkins December 13, 1943 Chatham, Ontario 6’5″ 210 lbs R – R
History

Canadian Fergie Jenkins Led the Majors in Wins for 14 Seasons

© 1999-2001 By Darl DeVault (405) 787-5560

From ‘67 to ‘80, Canadian Ferguson Arthur Jenkins achieved the improbable– he led Major League Baseball in wins while pitching at home mostly in hitters’ ballparks. He earned Hall of Fame status by being the only pitcher in the last 40 years to win 20 games or more a year for six straight seasons.

With a fastball that moved in the strike zone, Jenkins was the premier control pitcher of modern baseball and the best control strikeout artist of all time. With 251 wins in those 14 seasons, he led Major League Baseball (MLB) in games won. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to throw more than 3,000 strikeouts with less than 1,000 walks.

“During those 14 seasons, and for all my career really, I didn’t consider pitching to be work- I was having fun playing in the major leagues,” Jenkins said. “I had some great managers, such as Leo Durocher, Billy Martin and Don Zimmer. I also had some super guys around me like Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Jim Sundberg, Mike Hargrove and others who made it fun to play in the big leagues.”

The Canadian-born athlete had an All-Star second season as a starting pitcher in ‘67 with the Chicago Cubs after Durocher converted him from a reliever. Drafted from Chatham, Ontario, Canada, by the Philadelphia Phillies in ‘63, Jenkins had worked his way out of the minors, and after a trade, starred for the Cubs.

It was July 11, when the 23-year-old representing the Cubs took the mound for the National League (NL) at Anaheim Stadium in the ‘67 All-Star Game. Known as Fergie, he was on pace to lead the majors with 20 complete games that year and be runner-up in NL Cy Young Award voting. He had a 2.80 ERA to the break, and threw at 93-94 mph with pinpoint control that evening.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander proceeded to strikeout six of the best sluggers in modern American League (AL) history. He sat down Harmon Killebrew (who led the league that year with 44 homers), Tony Conigliaro (hitting .297), Mickey Mantle (who had hit his 500th homer on May 14), Jim Fregosi (‘66 AL Rookie of the Year), Rod Carew (future seven-time AL batting crown winner) and Tony Oliva (future three-time AL batting crown winner).

“I had a good first half of the season and was eager to get in there and perform because I knew I was facing the best hitters in the American League,” Jenkins said. “I ended up throwing three pretty good innings, striking out those six great hitters. I also gave up a home run to Brooks Robinson that tied the ball game at the time.”

Jenkins’ six strikeouts in an All-Star Game (where pitchers may only work three innings) put him in the MLB record book. Only Carl Hubbell, Johnny Vander Meer and Larry Jansen match his record as an All-Star strikeout artist.

He was selected to the All-Star Game again in ‘71 (when he led the NL with 24 wins) and ‘72.

Jenkins proved to be a durable, consistent strikeout artist for many years to come. He led the NL with 40 starts in ‘68, going 20-15 with a season-record five 1-0 losses. He went on to lead the NL in complete games again in ‘70 and ‘71.

He led the NL in strikeouts in ‘69 with 273, and showed his durability by starting 42 games, tops in the NL that year.

Jenkins set a Cubs’ record with 274 strikeouts in ‘70 and pitched more than 308 innings a season from ‘68 to ‘71 for the Cubs. He walked less than 84 hitters a season and threw six consecutive 20-game winning seasons as a Cub, ending in ‘72.

He led MLB with the most wins and the most strikeouts during those six-straight, 20-win years. He built a comfortable lead those years with 11 more wins and 86 more strikeouts than Tom Seaver, while finishing almost 75 percent of his starts.

Jenkins won in double figures his first 14 years as a major-league pitcher and finished with 267 complete games. With 49 career shutouts, his career-total 284 wins represent the most victories ever for a black pitcher in MLB.

All of this occurred at a time in MLB when Jenkins faced three or four batters hitting more than .300 on every team. His superb pitching caused opposing teams to start the best on their staff against him, increasing Jenkins’ difficulty of winning.

“From ‘67 through ‘75 there were a lot of premier pitchers who were performing in the major leagues, such as Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver,” Jenkins said. “When it came my turn to pitch in the rotation I had to start against the No. 1 pitcher on the opposing ball club.”

Jenkins put together one of the best seasons in the modern era in ‘71 and became the first Cub to win the NL Cy Young Memorial Award. With a 2.77 ERA, he led the NL with 24 wins, a career-high 30 complete games and 325 innings. He was chosen The Sporting News NL ‘71 Pitcher of the Year.

That year he halved his normal number of walks by giving up only one per nine innings pitched. He threw 263 strikeouts and 37 bases on balls (a 7.1:1 ratio).

“By far the most productive year for me as a Cub was ‘71. I pitched a great spring training and threw great right on through to win 24 games,” Jenkins said. “I also helped by hitting .243 and six home runs, including two in one game. My RBI’s won eight of those 24 games that year.”

Jenkins was considered a good hitter, but often his Cub teammates were not. His nine-shutout losses in ‘68 were the most in the 20thCentury by a 20-game winner.

Unfortunately for Jenkins, his tenure with the Cubs meant he pitched in the smallest, most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB. Wrigley Field is universally known as a hitters’ ballpark, as is Fenway Park, where he pitched as a Boston Red Sox.

“Some of the ball parks I pitched in at home were small by big-league standards, and some of the parks had favorable winds for the hitters,” Jenkins said.

In ‘72, he worked with David Fisher to write an illustrated book on conditioning for pitching, pitching delivery and control of movement of the ball. He followed up Inside Pitching the next year with an autobiography, Like Nobody Else: The Fergie Jenkins Story, as told to George Vass.

Jenkins was a complete player. On defense in four seasons (‘68, ‘76, ‘81, and ‘83) he had a 1.000 fielding average. Those four years saw him tie the all-time MLB record as a great fielding pitcher. He also led the league in putouts as a pitcher in ‘71, ‘72, and ‘78 and double plays with five in ‘68.

Following his trade in late ‘73 to the Texas Rangers, Jenkins easily adjusted to AL hitters. He became the Rangers’ first 20-game winner in ‘74, posting 25 victories, five against the World Champion Oakland Athletics. He is still the Rangers’ only 25-game winner.

This career-high win total tied for the lead in the AL. He also led the AL in pitching 29 complete games, and 328 innings. His 45 walks (1.2 per nine innings) and 245 strikeouts gave him a 5.4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was chosen as The Sporting News AL Comeback Player of the Year in ‘74.

Jenkins and Catfish Hunter tied for the MLB lead with 25 wins. Hunter edged him in the ‘74 AL Cy Young Award voting, although Hunter won five of his games sitting in the dugout.

“It was an outstanding year with Billy Martin as the manager and some great rookies hitting the ball well,” Jenkins said. “Fortunately for me they also played some great defense in helping me win 25 games that year.”

During his major-league-best 14 seasons from ‘67 to ‘80, Jenkins’ 251 wins led Steve Carlton (four Cy Youngs) with 246 wins and Tom Seaver (three Cy Youngs) with 245 wins. Gaylord Perry (two Cy Youngs) had 244 wins and Phil Niekro was fifth with 227 wins.

Carlton retired with the second-most strikeouts in MLB history. Jenkins had even greater winning margins over future Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry, Jim Palmer (three Cy Young Awards) and Nolan Ryan (most MLB career strikeouts).

“I am grateful to have won my Cy Young Award, although it was difficult to figure out the voting some years,” Jenkins said. “I sometimes had a better season than the guys who won in my time, but often they had played postseason the years before. Maybe the writers voted for pitchers who had good seasons and had been in the spotlight of league championships and the World Series. Unfortunately, I never got to do that.”

Jenkins became only the fourth pitcher in history to win more than 100 games in both leagues. Cy Young, Jim Bunning, and Gaylord Perry were the first three to accomplish this rare pitching feat. Only Nolan Ryan and Dennis Martinez have since joined that elite club,

Jenkins played two years for the Rangers and then was traded to the Boston Red Sox. After two years with the Sox, he was traded back to the Rangers, where he played four more years.

In late ‘81, Jenkins became a Cub again as a free agent. In ‘82, he became only the seventh pitcher to amass 3,000 career strikeouts. He finished his career the following year as the Cubs’ career and season leader in strikeouts with 2,036 and 274 in the ‘70 season.

His six consecutive 20-game winning seasons as a Cub were rare accomplishments in the majors. Jenkins is the only pitcher in the last 40 years of MLB to accomplish this. Although Jenkins retired in ‘83, it was not until ‘93 that another NL pitcher, Tom Glavine, could put together three straight 20-win seasons.

Pinpoint accuracy allowed him to retire as the ultimate control pitcher in the game, setting arguably the best finesse record in 129 years of organized baseball. The Cubs’ strikeout king walked fewer than two batters per nine innings for his 19-year major-league career.

Jenkins is the only pitcher in history to record more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,192), while giving up less than 1,000 walks (997). He finished with a superb strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.2:1). At career end, he was ninth on the all-time strikeout list.

In ‘88, he moved to Oklahoma City, Okla., from Canada to become the pitching coach for the then Oklahoma City 89ers, the Triple A Texas Rangers farm club. During his two-year stint as an 89ers coach, he bought a 160-acre ranch just north of Guthrie, Okla., and began raising Appaloosa horses.

Jenkins was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 21, ‘91. He was voted in with Rod Carew (one of the six he struck out in the ‘67 All-Star Game) and Gaylord Perry. Nolan Ryan recently joined Jenkins and Perry as the only Rangers in the Hall of Fame.

Jenkins is the only Canadian honored in Cooperstown. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in ‘87.

After coaching minor-league pitchers for the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds, he was the Chicago Cubs’ pitching coach for the ‘95 and ‘96 seasons.

Exactly 28 years after his pinpoint control and six strikeouts in the ‘67 All-Star Game, Jenkins was the NL honorary coach for the ‘95 All-Star Game. His selection heralded his return to MLB. The Texas Rangers were the host club at The Ballpark in Arlington. Retired Ranger Nolan Ryan was the AL honorary coach that year.

Jenkins now works with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA). As a MLBPAA board member he raises money for worthy causes and charities by making public appearances and speeches. Attending the annual induction ceremonies and special functions at the Hall of Fame are annual highlights for him. He also donates his time to many charity events organized by former teammates.

On the broadcast side, he has granted countless interviews to the national media and been a color analyst for MLB games. He has appeared in American and Canadian baseball-oriented programs. Displaying a blend of sincerity and credibility as the ultimate control pitcher of the modern era, Jenkins has moved easily from the world of sports. He has adapted to business as a rancher and assumed a constructive role in Oklahoma’s sports heritage preservation and civic involvement.

Jenkins was a founder of the Oklahoma Sports Museum (OSM) in ‘92. He speaks to youth groups for the OSM about his career and the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. “I’m proud to speak to youth groups and ask Oklahoma Olympic and pro athletes for items for museum displays,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins was voted one of the top 100 baseball players of the 20thCentury in June of ‘99 by the Society for American Baseball Research

With permission © 1999-2001 By Darl DeVault (405) 787-5560

PITCHING
YEAR
TM/LG
W
L
IP
ERA
G
GS
CG
SV
H
ER
BB
K
1965
PHI/N
2
1
12.1
2.19
7
0
0
1
7
3
2
10
1966
CHI/N
6
8
182.0
3.31
60
12
2
5
147
67
51
148
1966
PHI/N
0
0
2.1
3.86
1
0
0
0
3
1
1
2
1967
CHI/N
20
13
289.1
2.80
38
38
20
0
230
90
83
236
1968
CHI/N
20
15
308.0
2.63
40
40
20
0
255
90
65
260
1969
CHI/N
21
15
311.1
3.21
43
42
23
1
284
111
71
273
1970
CHI/N
22
16
313.0
3.39
40
39
24
0
265
118
60
274
1971
CHI/N
24
13
325.0
2.77
39
39
30
0
304
100
37
263
1972
CHI/N
20
12
289.1
3.20
36
36
23
0
253
103
62
184
1973
CHI/N
14
16
271.0
3.89
38
38
7
0
267
117
57
170
1974
TEX/A
25
12
328.1
2.82
41
41
29
0
286
103
45
225
1975
TEX/A
17
18
270.0
3.93
37
37
22
0
261
118
56
157
1976
BOS/A
12
11
209.0
3.27
30
29
12
0
201
76
43
142
1977
BOS/A
10
10
193.0
3.68
28
28
11
0
190
79
36
105
1978
TEX/A
18
8
249.0
3.04
34
30
16
0
228
84
41
157
1979
TEX/A
16
14
259.0
4.07
37
37
10
0
252
117
81
164
1980
TEX/A
12
12
198.0
3.77
29
29
12
0
190
83
52
129
1981
TEX/A
5
8
106.0
4.50
19
16
1
0
122
53
40
63
1982
CHI/N
14
15
217.1
3.15
34
34
4
0
221
76
68
134
1983
CHI/N
6
9
167.1
4.30
33
29
1
0
176
80
46
96
TOTALS
284
226
4500.2
3.34
664
594
267
7
4142
1669
997
3192
BATTING
YR
TM/LG
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
AVG
OBP
SLG
BB
SO
SB
CS
1965
PHI/N
7
1
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
1
0
0
1966
CHI/N
60
51
6
7
1
2
.137
.185
.235
3
25
0
0
1966
PHI/N
1
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1967
CHI/N
39
93
5
14
0
10
.151
.200
.204
6
35
0
0
1968
CHI/N
40
100
4
16
1
10
.160
.208
.230
6
41
0
1
1969
CHI/N
43
108
6
15
1
9
.139
.183
.204
6
42
0
0
1970
CHI/N
40
113
4
14
3
11
.124
.129
.221
1
36
0
0
1971
CHI/N
39
115
13
28
6
20
.243
.282
.478
7
40
0
0
1972
CHI/N
36
109
8
20
1
8
.183
.219
.239
5
34
0
0
1973
CHI/N
38
84
2
10
0
4
.119
.178
.167
6
40
0
0
1974
TEX/A
41
2
1
1
0
0
.500
.500
.500
0
1
0
0
1975
TEX/A
37
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1976
BOS/A
30
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1977
BOS/A
28
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1978
TEX/A
34
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1979
TEX/A
37
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1980
TEX/A
29
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1981
TEX/A
19
0
0
0
0
0
.000
.000
.000
0
0
0
0
1982
CHI/N
34
67
2
10
0
6
.149
.147
.179
0
23
0
0
1983
CHI/N
33
53
3
13
0
5
.245
.259
.321
1
8
0
0
TOTALS
665
896
54
148
13
85
.165
.200
.252
41
326
0
1