Ferguson Jenkins remembers how he first became a pitcher and how he was recognized by the Philadelphia Phillies. Jenkins then discusses how proud he was to have reached many goals he set prior to the 1971 season with Chicago Cubs’ teammate Billy Williams and how meaningful it was to be named Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Creator: Bruce Weir

© 2012, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. All Rights Reserved.


Transcript

Gene Dziadura who was a student in Windsor came back from some of the professional leagues and he hurt his back and he wanted to participate in Chatham to be a school teacher. He uh, I don’t know if he found me... Gene seen me first playing hockey and he wanted to know what I did in the summer. I said well I’m a first baseman, I enjoy the game and he wanted to know was there another position that I’d ever tried to play. I said well I tried my hand at pitching but I wasn’t that good. And he said, “Well if you want to really do it let’s work at it.” And I had some success. When I look back if it wasn’t for Gene I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be a pitcher and probably wouldn’t have signed a pro contract with the Phillies.

You know Billy Williams and I were buddies, so we together combined we put an envelope together, each of us, and we put stats in this envelope and said this is what we’re going to try to achieve in the ’71 season. So Billy with his outfield, assists, home runs, RBI’s, base hits, that type thing. With myself I put my goals high. I said I’m going to win twenty plus ball games, pitch 300 innings, lead the league in strikeouts and win the Cy Young Award. We opened up the envelope the last day of the season – I’d reached pretty much all of my goals that I’d written. And some of the reporters wanted to find out, he says, “When did you think that you wanted to do this?” I said, “Before spring training even started.” Billy and I sat, we were at one of the hotels in Scottsdale and we put some things together. And not low and behold but with the hard work, working as a team, we were able to reach our goals. I had 39 starts, I completed 30 games, I won 24 and I was fortunate enough to out point Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal to win the National League Cy Young that year in 1971.

Well I’m pretty proud of winning the Lionel Conacher Award, especially four times. Out pointing a lot of really good other athletes. Hockey, other baseball players, other Olympic individuals. I won it for the first time and I was pretty proud. I out pointed you know Bobby Hull. The next time some other good athletes. But I mean you play the sport that you’re that you’re given to play in the U.S. and then you come back after you’ve won some major awards and all of a sudden you get a phone call. And they said, “Well you’ve won the award again Mr. Jenkins, so you have to go either to Toronto or Montreal to receive the award.” And I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve had opportunity to basically have that situation happen to me and I’ve won it four times.


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