Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963, Ferguson Jenkins made his major league debut as a 21-year old in 1965. He was traded the following year to the Chicago Cubs, where he would blossom into one of the best pitchers in the majors. He posted some of the best numbers of his era in spite of pitching over seven years in a hitter's ballpark (Wrigley Field).
A three-time All-Star, Jenkins won the National League Cy Young Award in 1971, the first Cub pitcher ever to do so. He led the league in wins twice, least walks per 9 innings five times, complete games four times, and home runs allowed seven times. His streak of six straight seasons with 20 or more wins (1967-1972) is the longest streak in the major leagues since Warren Spahn performed the same feat between 1956 and 1961.
He and fellow Cub Greg Maddux are the only major league pitchers to ever record more than 3,000 strikeouts with fewer than 1,000 walks. Only Robin Roberts allowed more home runs over a career, however.
In 1974, Jenkins, then with the Texas Rangers, became the first baseball player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy, an award given annually to Canada's top athlete (he won a career-high, and still a Rangers franchise record, 25 games). He was also named the Canadian Press male athlete of the year four times between 1967 and 1974.
In late 1980, during a customs search of Jenkins in Toronto, Ontario, a small amount of cocaine was found. In response, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned him for life. Jenkins missed the rest of the 1980 season, but in an unprecedented action, an independent arbiter reinstated him, and he returned to the game, playing until his retirement following the 1983 season.
Ferguson Jenkins was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 and in 1991 became the first Canadian ever elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004. He was appointed the commissioner of the now-defunct Canadian Baseball League in 2003. He has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. In 1979, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
* The Phillies traded both Jenkins (in 1966) and Ryne Sandberg (in 1982) to the Cubs after each had only played one year in the majors. Thus the hapless Phils freely supplied the Cubs with two of their greatest players (both have been inducted to the Hall of Fame) of the past half-century.
* A well-publicized incident, involving Jenkins' transport of cannabis, is believed to have delayed his election to the Hall of Fame.
* An outstanding all-around athlete, Fergie played basketball as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
* After Jenkins retired from Major League Baseball in 1983, he pitched for two seasons for the London Majors of the Intercounty Major Baseball League operating in southern Ontario, Canada.
* Jenkins' career is explained (by Tap drummer Mick Shrimpton) in the extra scenes for the movie This Is Spinal Tap, where a caller to a radio station asks how many shutouts Jenkins acquired during his career.