CUFF.Docs Review: 'Glory and Grief: The Fergie Jenkins Story' Tells the Inspiring Story of a Canadian Sports Legend
Published Dec 08, 2021An hour long and an easy watch, the title of this comprehensive documentary says it all: Glory and Grief: The Fergie Jenkins Story. (Full disclosure, I used to work for the Chicago Cubs in the press box. That was back when the storied baseball franchise had a bit more good karma and before the current ownership turned historic Wrigley Field into a strip mall and a venue for Trump fundraisers. So it goes.) There has always been a squad of universally-beloved characters around the team. There's Ernie Banks ("Mr. Cub" himself), Yosh Kawano (long-time clubhouse manager), Harry Caray (their bespectacled, inebriated broadcaster), and guys like Ontario's own Ferguson "Fergie" Jenkins.
Jenkins is one of the finest athletes to ever come from above the 49th parallel: a Harlem Globetrotter, a hockey prospect, and the first Canadian enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Recruited and signed as a young teen, Fergie's first foray into pro ball had him shipped to a minor league team in Florida, where Jim Crow Laws were the order of the day. Coming from the relatively desegregated North, his arrival in the Deep South must have been complete culture shock for the Canadian teenager. Jenkins tells us, "You felt safe on the field, but once you left the ballpark it was a different story." Luckily, his performance quickly elevated him to the mainstream sanctuary that is Major League Baseball.
We don't need to cover Fergie's on-field greatness, as the numbers speak for themselves. This documentary aims to tell the story of everything endured during those years of excellence. Sure, he was talented, but he had his setbacks. If Shakespeare wrote his biography, you'd say the tragedy was too far-fetched — starting with the very day he came into this world, when his mother went blind from complications during childbirth.
We also don't need to give away the whole story right here and now, but the big takeaway is that Jenkins was dealt a brutal hand, yet he used his own embattled life to help those around him. One of his former teammates credits Fergie for talking him out of suicide over the phone. So, while heavy at times, there is a redemption arc here.
Baseball fans will especially enjoy the old interviews and archival footage, but everyone should appreciate Fergie's uplifting tale. It comes as a relief to watch the old ballplayer enjoy some fishing in his golden years. And maybe that's the moral of The Fergie Jenkins Story: if he can persevere, you can too. (MLB Network)