May 11, 2005
A closet CanuckRoyal wants to play for country because father was Canadian
By LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun
Ernie Whitt and Paul Godfrey didn't realize there was a closet Canadian on the Kansas City Royals who wants to play for the national team.
But you could roll out the red and white carpet if third baseman Mark Teahen wants to try out for Canada at the planned World Cup of baseball early next year.
The 23-year-old Teahen looks and sounds every bit the Californian, born in Redlands and now residing an hour east of Los Angeles in Yucaipa. But his father Mike hails from St. Marys and was a catcher in Stratford and on the Canadian national team from 1973-79. Mark's mother Marty was a native Californian who met Mike through their joint profession of teaching. They lived for a time in Barhead, Alta., where Mark's older brother was born.
"My Mom could deal with the cold weather for awhile, but then she wanted out, back to California," Mark said with a laugh.
In subsequent family trips to visit relatives in the Stratford -Detroit area, Mark became better acquainted with his Canadian roots. That's when the Royals' rookie thought about a spot on the Canadian Olympic team in Athens last summer. The required paperwork wasn't completed , but Teahen became a dual citizen in the off-season.
"I thought it would be cool to follow in (Dad's) footsteps," Teahen said last night before taking on the Blue Jays.
Teahen, who played some roller hockey in California, admits the trip here has got the maple syrup flowing in his veins.
"I was up here just before Christmas for my cousin's wedding," he said. "I do embrace my roots, hearing the national anthem at the park. There's a lot of Canadian ball players now and I'd definitely like to be on that team. Now they're talking about the World Cup. Hopefully I can, though I haven't talked to anyone affiliated with the Canadian national team."
Canadian manager Ernie Whitt, the Jays' bench coach, admitted he didn't know about Teahen's bloodlines or his attempt to at least qualify for the Olympic squad.
"I had never heard about him until I saw him play (Monday) night, but I'm sure (Team Canada general manager Greg Hamilton) knew," Whitt said. "We're always looking for good, young Canadian guys."
Godfrey hopes he can give Teahen and Team Canada personnel an update on the Cup after a meeting today. Godfrey is on the Major League Baseball committee trying to finalize a myriad of Cup details. He said the basic premise remains 16 nations in an elimination tournament to run during what would be spring training 2006.
"It requires the co-operation of the Players Association and the baseball federations of all the countries," Godfrey said. "I don't think there's a hang-up, but the only thing that has to be resolved is the acceptance of the various nations. Some of them already have."
The Cup's surviving eight or nine teams could be projected as the U.S., Canada, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Korea, Japan and Thailand.
Godfrey isn't picking the Canadian team, but is enthusiastic about its chances, given the potential lineup that would include Larry Walker, Rich Harden, Erik Bedard and Eric Gagne, though Teahen would have to get past Jays' Corey Koskie to start at third.
Teahen is hitting .250 after last night's double in the eighth inning.