Canada is perhaps the most forgotten country when it comes to baseball. However, it shouldn’t be!
For a while, both of the Milwaukee Brewers’ eight and ninth inning pitchers were from Canada—Jim Henderson and John Axford. This past summer, I saw Rockies’ first baseman Justin Morneau have a multi-hit game at Coors Field, another Canadian. Other well-known players include the Reds’ Joey Votto and the Blue Jays’ Russell Martin.
There is clearly talent in Canada, but it always seems to be forgotten in the flashy play of the Latin Americans or the unorthodox play of the Japanese. Canada is the only country in the world with a Major League Baseball team for crying out loud!
In fact, the Toronto Blue Jays just signed one of the players I just mentioned—Russell Martin. Welcome home, Russell.
Baseball in Canada isn’t bad by any stretch. The national team is ranked sixth in the world.
So why does it seem to be forgotten by baseball fans as a place where baseball thrives?
Hockey is definitely king in Canada, so it’s reasonable that more young athletes choose to play hockey instead of baseball. Another reason is that the National Hockey League (NHL) has a much larger footprint in Canada, than MLB’s one club that isn’t geographically friendly for the western and northern parts of Canada.
The NHL has franchises in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Calgary, whereas the MLB has one team in Toronto. Baseball simply can’t compete with the popularity and exposure of hockey
2. Low Interest
The lack of interest in baseball in Canada is another reason. There is proof of this with the Montreal Expos. I was fortunate enough to catch a game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal when I was younger, and I distinctly remember the crowd being smaller than a UW-Whitewater football game’s crowd.
The Montreal Expos had such poor attendance in the mid-2000s they eventually had to relocate to Washington D.C. They are now the Washington Nationals.
3. Just one, mostly irrelevant MLB club
This ties into the idea of hockey being dominant in Canada. Unfortunately MLB has just one team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto isn’t exactly accessible for many Canadians, especially those in Nova Scotia or British Columbia (though they have the Seattle Mariners nearby). Furthermore, the team hasn’t seen much success, though they do have one shining moment courtesy of Joe Carter.
4. Baseball is too linked to American culture
Finally, baseball is too linked to American culture, so it tends to be forgotten by baseball fans. If you go overseas, the team that people recognize is the New York Yankees. Few people even realize Toronto has a team.
Baseball is a game that has gone global, so let’s try not to forget about our neighbors to the north, eh?