North Delta-raised Jeff Francis pitches for Colorado Rockies during a MLB game in 2012. (Photo: BC Sports Hall of Fame)

North Delta-raised Jeff Francis pitches for Colorado Rockies during a MLB game in 2012. (Photo: BC Sports Hall of Fame)

BASEBALL

North Delta’s Francis enters Canadian baseball hall among country’s ‘greatest left-handed pitchers’

‘I’ve become proud of what I accomplished in baseball,’ says former Colorado Rockies starter

North Delta-raised Jeff Francis has been elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

In June, the former Colorado Rockies starter will be inducted along with 2020 inductees Justin Morneau, John Olerud, Duane Ward and Jacques Doucet.

Francis is among the “greatest left-handed pitchers to come from Canada,” Jeremy Diamond, chair of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors, said in a Feb. 2 post on baseballhalloffame.ca.

“He was the ace of the Colorado Rockies on their National League pennant-winning team in 2007 and is considered one of the best pitchers in Rockies’ history. He has also answered the call to play for his country whenever he has been available and is a wonderful ambassador for baseball in our country.”

Francis grew up in North Delta, and was selected by the Rockies in the first round (ninth overall) in the 2002 MLB draft.

“I was so excited to get the news from the Hall of Fame of my induction,” Francis said in the webpost. “When I see the list of people and players that I will be joining on the walls in St. Marys, I’m honoured and humbled to be considered to be on that level.

“This is not something that is ever in an athlete’s mind during his or her playing days, but in the time since my last days of playing, I’ve become proud of what I accomplished in baseball,” Francis added. “I consider this not just a recognition of my achievements in the game, but of the coaching, mentorship, and support I’ve received from so many other people.”

In 2007, Francis posted career-highs in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts to help propel the Rockies to the National League pennant. He made three postseason starts and became the first Canadian pitcher to start Game 1 of a World Series.

Over an 11-season career Francis pitched for the Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, finishing with 72 major league wins, which is the second-most by a Canuck left-hander. Among all Canadian major league pitchers (left-handers and right-handers), he ranks fifth in starts, seventh in wins and eighth in strikeouts and innings pitched.

Francis has also competed for the Canadian national team on multiple occasions, including the gold medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

In March 2019, the UBC Thunderbirds retired Francis’ jersey #16, and in 2020 he was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prohibited the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame from having an in-person induction ceremony since 2019.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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