Fergie Jenkins rocks at Tankard

Baseball legend Fergie Jenkins takes in the curling action Tuesday afternoon at the Peach King...

Baseball legend Fergie Jenkins takes in the curling action Tuesday afternoon at the Peach King Arena in Grimsby, Ont. (The Curling News)

GEORGE KARRYS, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

GRIMSBY — Tuesday was Fergie Jenkins Day at The Dominion Ontario Tankard, the provincial men’s curling championship. And yes, the baseball legend got a chance to try his hand at The Roaring Game.

“It’s a little more challenging than it looks,” said Jenkins, who threw his first stones in the morning before giving a keynote address at the opening luncheon.

“I threw 18 stones, for about 20 minutes,” said Jenkins. “I got a couple in the house.”

The 1971 Cy Young award winner, Jenkins was also a multi-sport athlete — he even played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters. Now 68 years of age, he found curling’s low slide position a little tricky.

“My body’s not used to getting down and up again like that,” said Jenkins. “I did a belly flop, and was crawling around on the ice out there.”

Jenkins was scheduled to throw a special ceremonial stone before the Tuesday night draw.

“I think I’m gonna use the (throwing) stick tonight,” Jenkins chuckled.

The Chatham native is on a national tour to promote Black History Month and to celebrate his immortalization on a stamp, one of four million that have been released by Canada Post.

“We’re going out across Ontario, then New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, then Montreal before we go out west,” said the 68-year old.

“It’s a great honour to be recognized for my skill set, but my hat’s off to these athletes for what they can do.

“I think the Brier is gonna be in London? That’s only some 30 miles outside of my hometown.”

Tankard organizers also plan to honour five-time defending champion Team Glenn Howard later in the week. Friday will feature a Parade of Champions, with more than two dozen former winners on hand for the festivities.

So far, there would appear to be no gray area for the Howard crew in Grimsby. They’ve won two games by a combined score of 19-3 but also lost one — by 9-5 scoreline — to Brampton’s Peter Corner, the finalist in both 2010 and 2009.

That loss clearly did not sit well with the defending champs. A fired-up Howard started Tuesday afternoon’s match against Jake Higgs of Harriston by taking four points. After surrendering a deuce, his Coldwater foursome then cracked an amazing seven-ender, prompting Higgs to immediately concede. Welcome to the one-hour curling game.

Nick Rizzo had a wild Monday night. The Brantford veteran was leading Renfrew’s Chris Gardner 5-4 with last rock in the sixth end when he dropped a steal of two… followed by a steal of seven. Another game over early.

Action continues through the week at the Peach King Arena with the championship final at 2:00pm Sunday.

BROOM BITS:

Rumours have the successful Ontario women’s championship at the Thornhill Golf and Country Club earning some $40,000 in gate revenue… Another smash hit was Oshawa’s BDO Canadian Open at the General Motors Centre. Busy crowds throughout the week were capped off by CBC TV ratings of 593,000 on Jan. 29 and a whopping 778,000 for the Jan. 30 final… Team Cheryl Bernard will part ways after this curling season in a friendly split after six seasons together. In a Tuesday news release, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic silver medallists announced that their final tournaments as a foursome will take place at Victoria, B.C. and Grande Prairie, Alta. in April.


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