Baseball Hall-of-Famer and Order of Canada recipient Ferguson Jenkins is in rare air.
On his 68th birthday last Monday, Jenkins became just the second Canadian – Acadian singer-songwriter Edith Butler is the other – to watch the press run as his image was imprinted on a Canada Post stamp that will be released next year to coincide with Black History Month.
Ferguson is just the sixth African-Canadian to be recognized with a Canada Post commemorative stamp and the second living Canadian – the late great Oscar Peterson was the first – to be honoured with a stamp for his lifetime work.
A millennium stamp bearing the image of Portia White, considered one of Canada’s greatest vocalists, was issued in 1999 while Canada Post issued a domestic stamp to mark Peterson’s 80th birthday on August 15, 2005.
Two years ago, Abraham Shadd and Rosemary Brown were recognized with stamps while William Hall – the first Black to receive the Victoria Cross for bravery during combat – was honoured with a stamp last year.
The only Canadian in Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Jenkins said the stamp provides a historic bookend to a 19-year major league career for which his image was first printed on a baseball card in 1965.
“As a kid, you grow up asking yourself if you could really be a professional athlete and get put on a baseball card which is pretty fantastic,” said Jenkins who played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers before retiring in 1983. “And now you are on a stamp, especially for your country.”
The 59-cent stamp depicts a young Jenkins on the mound with the Cubs, set behind a recent photo of the Chatham native on the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2001 with his Order of Canada medal hanging from his neck.
“Seeing all these stamps run off, it’s pretty historical,” said the three-time All Star and first Cubs pitcher and Canadian to win the Cy Young award in 1971. “My kids are going to be (more) proud, I think, than I am. I have three daughters that still live in Ontario.”
Jenkins, who won 284 games and lost 226 while striking out 3,192 batters, founded the Fergie Jenkins foundation nine years ago.