Skip to main content

Fergie Jenkins statue arrives in Chatham

A replica statue of Fergie Jenkins, matching one that sits outside Wrigley Field in Chicago, has arrived in Chatham.

“We drove the statue from Chicago ourselves to be sure that it arrived on time and intact. We know how important this event is for Chatham-Kent and we are proud to be a part of it,” said Lou Cella, the creator of the statue.

The statue will be officialy unveiled at a ceremony at te Chatham-Kent Civic Centre on Saturday.

Jenkins played professional baseball from 1965-1983, during that time he was the first Canadian to win the Cy Young award. He was a National League All-Star for three seasons, and finished his career with a record 284 game wins and 3,192 strikeouts.

The Statue Dedication Ceremony will begin at 1:45 p.m. and is open to the public. 

“Hey, life's been fantastic, believe me,” Jenkins told CTV News Windsor ahead of Saturday’s event. “Anything I do now is positive. All positive."

“I think the biggest thing is I'm gonna see a lot of friends that I've known for years. Guys that I played sports against, hockey, baseball, basketball, schoolmates," he continued. “My dad really didn't push me but he says if you want to be a ballplayer, you got to pursue it. You got to want to do it. And then I signed as a professional right out of high school 62, got traded to the Chicago Cubs and 66 and as you know, the rest is history.”

Clarke Construction team installing Fergie Jenkins statue on June 8, 2023. (Source: Submitted)

Jenkins said he will be back to the region as more anticipation builds around the Intercounty Baseball League’s inaugural Chatham season in 2024.

“It's great to be from a small town, small town in Canada, and I'm glad to be a Canadian. And the nice thing about it is as I said, hard work is something I've always wanted to do. I pursued it. I enjoyed it. To me it wasn't that difficult. As I said I had some good teammates. The game was easy. Life was hard," he said. 

Jenkins added, “Yeah a year from now, it's gonna be a Canadian team playing baseball here at Chatham. I think the people are gonna love to see it. Go on to Rotary Park, Fergie Jenkins Park and see some of these young men play.”

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Cannif exclaimed the event is exciting and historic event for the community.

“We are celebrating a major legend of Chatham Kent,” Canniff said. “It's super exciting for the community. What it says even more so is we got over a thousand kids playing baseball here. We could have the next Fergie Jenkins playing right now.”

Fergie Jenkins statue in Chatham, Ont. on June 9, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)Canniff added, “It inspires youth, not only in sports but inspires across all Chatham-Kent. You work hard, get out there and do what you love and there's great things can happen.”

The Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum curator Sam Meredith echoed Canniff’s belief that Saturday’s event will be historic.

“Everyone's super excited. Lots of people in town, hotels are sold out for the weekend. Yeah, so the town is buzzing.”

Meredith added, “This is something super exciting that doesn't really happen too much in our small town. So it's definitely probably a once in a lifetime thing that's going to happen here. I think this is definitely going to be one of those days that everyone remembers for a long time.”

— With files from CTV News London's Kristylee Varley Top Stories

Stay Connected