On the extremely off chance that I have any readers in the Great White North, I would just like to wish you a Happy and Prosperous Canada Day. I haven't been across the border since I spent my Spring Break in Toronto during my sophomore year of college, way back in the heady days of March 2002. But I found the sights beautiful, the streets clean, the exchange rate favorable, the beer cold, and the hobos entertaining. I have no quarrel with you, Maple Leafers.
Bob Alexander was not the best Canadian-born player to suit up for the Orioles, but he was the first, way back in the team's second year in Baltimore. Though he made his big league debut that year, he was already a wizened professional vet in his 13th season. The Yankees originally signed the Vancouver native way back in 1942, when he was 19 years old. His minor league travels had taken him to 11 different locales, from Hagerstown to Montreal. The second-division Birds (they finished seventh out of eight American League clubs with 97 losses) carried Bob on their Opening Day roster, but only used him four times in relief before sending him back to the bus leagues in May. His first three appearances were mop-up jobs in which he allowed six runs in three and two-thirds innings, but he did go out on a high note.
On May 1, 1955 the O's and White Sox were in the first game of a doubleheader and went to extra innings tied at seven apiece. When Don Ferrarese, their fifth pitcher of the game, walked Nellie Fox to load the bases, manager Paul Richards called on Alexander to retire Minnie Minoso to send the game to the 11th frame. The 32-year-old rookie did his job, getting Minoso to foul out to first base, and was rewarded with his only major league win when Jim Pyburn pinch-hit for him and delivered a two-run single in the top of the following inning. Harry Byrd nailed down the save despite allowing a run-scoring double to Clint Courtney.
Bob made it back to the bigs two years later for one more cup of coffee with the Indians. He was hit hard again, giving up seven runs in as many innings and failing to retire a batter in what proved to be his MLB swan song. He continued to pitch in the minors through the 1960 season, finally hanging up his spikes after 18 seasons and 148 professional wins...one of which came in a Baltimore Orioles uniform. O Bob Alexander, we stand on guard for thee!