Friday, February 5, 2016

Canadians in the Majors: Denis Boucher

Today I want to mention a guy who had a rather forgettable career, but is still in the record books for being part of something that happened only 7 times before.

I speak of Denis Boucher. Denis was signed as an amateur free agent by the Blue Jays. He went through the Jays' minor league system from 1988-1991, when he had his first taste of MLB action.

In seven starts for the Jays, he was 0-3 4.58 ERA in 35.1 Innings. He both walked and struck out 16. He then found himself as part of the trade that brought Tom Candiotti to the Jays as Boucher, Mark Whiten, and Glenallen Hill were shipped to Cleveland for Candiotti and Turner Ward.

After his stint in Cleveland, he was taken by the expansion Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft, who then traded him to San Diego for Jay Gainer. In July 1993, Boucher got to go home, as he was traded to the Montreal Expos for a minor leaguer and cash.

Now, Montreal has always had a thing for their hometown players. Even in the bad years, a Montreal born player would bring out more fans. Boucher was no exception. 40000 people came to watch Boucher pitch and for the most part in 1993, he sent the fans home happy.

Now.. Here's the history making part. It has been a rarity for a Canadian-born pitcher to throw to a Canadian-born catcher. In fact, prior to September 6, 1993, it happened seven times, the last one being 1955, but most coming in the 1880s.

Now September 6, 1993 would be like every other day normally. However, in Montreal we had Denis Boucher, the hometown hurler, throwing to Joe Siddall from Windsor, Ontario. At the time, people knew it was rare, but nobody really knew the significance of it.

 “Before the game, Expos manager Felipe Alou was advised that the ball used for Denis Boucher’s first pitch would be immediately taken from the game. The ball was to be autographed by the Canadian battery of Boucher and Joe Siddall and sent to Canada’s Baseball Hall of Fame. ‘What happens,’ Alou asked, ‘if the ball is hit out of the park?’ Then Alou, in jest, offered a suggestion. ‘Maybe I should call for a pitchout.’ ” (An unattributed article in The Montreal Gazette, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 1993 page F3)

I took this quote from here

Now here's the significance: The were the first Canadian Battery since 1955. The first to start a game since 1885. They were the first to play a game in which their team won and the only one to originate in Canada. 

Boucher was the pitching coach for Team Canada for both the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics. He now develops youth baseball and scouts for the Yankees. 


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