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Rockies’ Jeff Francis elected to Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Rocktober ace, Sports Illustrated cover boy, first-round draft pick and a 72-game winner over 11 major league seasons.

Former Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis had quite a career.

On Tuesday came the reminder of just how impressive it was when the Vancouver-born Francis was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

“This is not something that is ever in an athlete’s mind during his or her playing days, but in the time since my last days of playing, I’ve become proud of what I accomplished in baseball,” Francis said. “I consider this not just a recognition of my achievements in the game, but of the coaching, mentorship, and support I’ve received from so many other people.”

Francis, 41, will be inducted June 18 in St. Marys, Ont., with the class of 2020 that includes former players Justin Morneau, John Olerud and Duane Ward, along with Montreal Expos broadcaster Jacques Ducet. Morneau and Francis were teammates during high school, playing for the North Delta Blue Jays of the B.C. Premier Baseball League.

Francis was selected ninth overall by the Rockies in the 2002 draft. In 2007, he was an integral part of Colorado’s miraculous streak that earned them the National League pennant and the team’s only appearance in the World Series. He made three postseason starts and became the first Canadian pitcher to start in Game 1 of a World Series.

Francis appeared on the Oct. 15, 2007 cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline: “Out of Thin Air … The Colorado Rockies work a Mile-High Miracle.”

“My version of that (cover) is on my wall,” Francis said. “When that came out, I cleaned out, I think, every Walgreens on the west side of Denver, and I couldn’t do it myself. So I had my wife go and buy just about every Sports Illustrated on the west side of Denver.”

Francis played 11 seasons for six major league teams, including the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees, before capping off his career with a second stint with the Blue Jays.

Francis’s 72 wins rank as the second-most by a Canadian left-hander. He also ranks second all-time among Canadian lefties in games started (217) and innings pitched (1,291).

Francis also played for the Canadian national team on multiple occasions, including with the Junior National Team in 1999, the World Baseball Classic club in 2006 and the gold medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Francis was inducted into the University of British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and his number 16 was retired by the school 11 years later. In 2020, he was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.