Jeff Francis pitches for the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 MLB playoffs.

Jeff Francis calls it a career

Former North Delta Blue Jay spent 11 seasons in Major League Baseball

After 11 seasons as a pitcher in Major League Baseball, North Delta’s Jeff Francis is calling it a career.

The 34-year-old announced his retirement earlier this week, 13 years after he was claimed ninth overall by the Colorado Rockies in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft.

He retires with a 72-82 win-loss record and a 4.97 earned run average. He recorded 869 strikeouts over 1,291 innings.

Francis finished his career as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, making 14 relief appearances and posting a 1-2 record. He was also a member of the Canadian team at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, and pitched seven innings in a 7-6 win over the United States in the gold medal game.

A former member of the North Delta Blue Jays of the B.C. Premier Baseball League, Francis was pitching for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds when he was drafted by the Rockies.

After two years in Colorado’s minor league system, Francis made his MLB debut in August, 2004 against the Atlanta Braves. His first full season was 2005, when he was 14-12 and finished sixth in Rookie of the year voting.

His most successful season was 2007, when he was 17-9 and led the Rockies to their first – and only – appearance in the World Series. He was ninth in voting for the Cy Young Award.

The Rockies won 14 of their final 15 games to qualify for the playoffs, then swept both the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks to win the National League pennant.

“It was special to be able to be a champion,” Francis told mlb.com. “I know we didn’t win it all, but that was a team that came together, even though I don’t know what was expected of us.

“Looking back, I’m sure there was a lot of pressure, but I don’t think we felt it. We just rode a wave and took it as far as we could.”

Francis pitched the first game of the World Series that season, but the Rockies were swept by the Boston Red Sox.

Francis spent eight seasons in Denver with the Rockies, and one season each with the Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.

He is among the all-time pitching leaders with the Rockies, ranked third in wins (64) , second in innings pitched (1,066) and fourth in strikeouts (742).

“It’s a special place,” Francis said of Denver. “I spent the bulk of my time there. It was at times an up-and-down career, but to have the time in Denver playing in the World Series, and playing for a team that grew up together, that’s pretty satisfying.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

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