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Monday, March 08, 2021

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Rhéal Cormier dies at 53

Canadian pitcher Rheal Cormier, who spent 16 years in the major leagues, has died after a battle with cancer.

The native of Moncton, N.B., was 53.

A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis in 1988, Cormier broke into the big leagues with the Cardinals three years later.

After being traded to Boston, Cormier was shipped to the Montreal Expos in 1996.

Cormier spent two years with Montreal before finishing his major-league career with Boston, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

In 683 major-league games, Cormier was 71-64 with a 4.03 earned-run average.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2021 at 04:39 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries, rheal cormier

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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 08, 2021 at 06:23 PM (#6007965)

53 is way to young to go.
   2. baxter Posted: March 08, 2021 at 10:54 PM (#6007983)
Indeed way too young and RIP; a young man indeed.

Pitched way, way longer than I remember.

   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 08, 2021 at 11:26 PM (#6007988)
Pitched for Canada in the 1988 & 2008 Olympics, too.
   4. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 09, 2021 at 06:42 AM (#6007990)
Pitched way, way longer than I remember.

Same here. I think I lost awareness of him when he moved to the bullpen. That's a really nice middle relief season in 2003: 8-0, 1.70 ERA, 0.933 WHIP in a healthy 84.2 IP for 2.6 WAR and 4.1 WPA.

Not many major leaguers from New Brunswick. By WAR, he was the fourth best of all time, behind Matt Stairs and a couple of guys whose careers ended before World War I did (Larry McLean and Bill Phillips -- never heard of them).

   5. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 09, 2021 at 07:10 AM (#6007991)
Best Canadian-born players by province of birth (career bWAR):

84.15 - Ontario - Fergie Jenkins (honorable mention Joey Votto 62.07)
72.74 - British Columbia - Larry Walker
33.93 - Manitoba - Russ Ford (pretty good Yankees pitcher 1909-1913)
28.37 - Saskatchewan - Terry Puhl
20.27 - Quebec - Pete Ward
19.24 - Prince Edward Island - George Wood (1800s OF)
14.15 - New Brunswick - Matt Stairs
13.07 - Nova Scotia - Pop Smith (1800s IF)
5.70 - Alberta - Mike Soroka

None from Newfoundland, Yukon, NW Territories or Nunavut, as far as I can tell. (These are birthplaces listed on BB-Ref. I'm surprised Alberta is so low.
   6. puck Posted: March 09, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6008014)
20.27 - Quebec - Pete Ward

I was expecting to see Russell Martin here, but see he was born in East York. Looks like he grew up in Quebec though?
   7. Adam Starblind Posted: March 09, 2021 at 10:38 AM (#6008015)
This is a Rheal shame.
   8. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 09, 2021 at 11:37 AM (#6008018)
Reggie Cleveland was born in Saskatchewan but grew up in Alberta. He only had 8.9 bWAR in a 15-year career but that puts him ahead of Mike Soroka.

Cormier came from a really poor upbringing and must be the top authentic Francophone Canadian major leaguer in many decades, as well as the best pitcher ever from New Brunswick. Rest in peace.
   9. crict Posted: March 09, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6008025)
6- Martin did grow up in Quebec, and is francophone. That's the issue with place of birth: Pete Ward was born in Montreal when his dad played for the NHL Montreal Maroons, but he grew up in Oregon.
   10. Mayor Blomberg Posted: March 09, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6008027)
Cormier [...] must be the top authentic Francophone Canadian major leaguer in many decades

Over Gagne?
   11. Gch Posted: March 09, 2021 at 01:42 PM (#6008028)
Not many major leaguers from New Brunswick. By WAR, he was the fourth best of all time, behind Matt Stairs and a couple of guys whose careers ended before World War I did (Larry McLean and Bill Phillips -- never heard of them).

McLean was a tragicomic character in the dugouts that covered his career, most notably when he announced that he was holding out until the Reds accepted his unique contract offer:

(From The Pittsburg Press, December 2, 1910)

Larry McLean, famous Red catcher, announced today that he would play ball again only on the salary basis of 25 cents for every drink he refused during the year.

McLean was brought to this decision by the terms of his last season's contract with Griffiths' team, which called for the payment of $25 for every drink he took.


"Last year they made me sign a fool contract after I had a little trouble at Hot Springs. This year they will sign my contracts or not at all. I want 25c for every drink I refuse.

I'll pay a man $50 a week just to be with me all the time and keep tab on how many drinks I refuse, and I'll forfeit all claims to any salary if I take one drink during the playing season.

I figure my salary would be about $25,000 a year on this basis, and I think I am worth that much to the club. I'm tired of being dictated to, and will now do some dictating. Since I have made the announcement of the only terms I will sign under, I would have made $80, just by turning down offers to take a tumble off the aqua aeroplane, but nix for me."


McLean swears he is in earnest in his statement and that if his contract is not signed, "I'll go into vaudeville and forsake baseball."

The dugout page where that story was first told also included the anecdote:

"Finally, the club hired a detective to keep tabs on him. In one report the detective gave a run-down of McLean's activities on a certain evening: he started out drinking beer at Schubert's in Cincinnati and soon began shouting, "To hell with Griffith!" (his manager); from there he made the rounds, moving from one saloon to another to elude his wife, who was trying to catch up with him and calm him down; when he woke up to the fact that he was being tailed, he tried to have the detective arrested. McLean's wages were repeatedly garnisheed to satisfy creditors, and the club arranged to have his wife or daughter pick up what was left of them. Violation of training rules, fights with the manager, fines and suspensions marked the rest of his short career. Several years later he was shot and killed in a saloon brawl in Boston. "
   12. "bothsidesism" word 57i66135 Posted: March 10, 2021 at 05:46 PM (#6008149)
the defecator with a quality writeup of frenchy:
By June, columnist Mike Sielski was calling Cormier’s season a “renaissance.” He pitched into and out of a jam in one of the most exciting Phillies games of my lifetime, a wild 13-inning, 6-5 win over Boston; later, a commemorative bottle opener would be made of Todd Pratt’s walkoff home run. (This was a weird time; later that season, a player revolt against Bowa involved several players bleaching their hair like “ringleader” Tyler Houston, who was later released.)

“Rhéal was one of the most vibrant people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing,” Thome told “He loved baseball, but he always put his family first. Frenchy was the kind of guy who would do anything for you and I’m lucky to have called him my friend for many years. Our time spent together in Philadelphia as teammates was unforgettable.”

   13. "bothsidesism" word 57i66135 Posted: March 10, 2021 at 05:51 PM (#6008150)
i can't imagine it wouldn't have been specified if it was the specific cause of death, but this might still be worth keeping in mind:
Daulton and several prominent contemporaries in baseball — including at least three other Phillies who played at Veterans Stadium, the team’s home from 1971 to 2003 — have died of glioblastoma, according to news media accounts. It is considered the most aggressive and frequently diagnosed form of malignant brain tumor.
It was impossible not to think about what had caused Daulton’s death and whether there was some unexplained correlation with baseball. But John Kruk, a Phillies television commentator who was Daulton’s teammate from 1989 to ’94, said he tried not to let his mind wander in that direction.

“If I thought about it, I’d go crazy,” he said.
Other former Phillies who also reportedly died of glioblastoma since 2003 were reliever Tug McGraw at age 59, infielder John Vukovich at 59 and catcher Johnny Oates at 58. Ken Brett, a pitcher who played in Veterans Stadium for one season, died at 55 of a brain cancer that has been identified in some news accounts as glioblastoma.

That same type of cancer is reported to have claimed the lives of other notable major league players, as well as a manager, from the same era: the Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter at 57, outfielder Bobby Murcer at 62, reliever Dan Quisenberry at 45 and manager Dick Howser at 51.

   14. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 10, 2021 at 06:29 PM (#6008155)
Daulton and several prominent contemporaries in baseball — including at least three other Phillies who played at Veterans Stadium, the team’s home from 1971 to 2003 — have died of glioblastoma, according to news media accounts.

I just posted in the dugout about a guy who claims to have lived at the Vet for two years. He's still kicking at 78!
   15. crict Posted: March 10, 2021 at 08:18 PM (#6008168)
In January 2020, Cormier was diagnosed with a tumor in his lungs. He later died of pancreatic cancer.

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