* Writer’s Note: This is my first in a series of “Things you might not know …” articles about this year’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. This year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m. in St. Marys, Ont., on the museum’s ceremonial grounds. Admission is free.
Born in Toronto in 1965, Rob Ducey was raised in Cambridge, Ont. The left-handed hitting outfielder was signed as a free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1984. After being named MVP of the Rookie Ball Medicine Hat Blue Jays that year, he rose through the organization’s ranks to make his big league debut on May 1, 1987.
The talented Canadian suited up for parts of five seasons with the Jays, prior to being dealt to the Angels in 1992. Tenures with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies would follow, as well as a two-year stint in the Japanese Pacific League with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1995 and 1996 that saw him belt 51 home runs. He returned to Toronto for five games in 2000 and saw his final big league action with the Montreal Expos in 2001, making him the second Canadian (along with Denis Boucher) to start his major league career with the Jays and end it with the Expos. Ducey is also one of only four Canadians (Boucher, Shawn Hill and Matt Stairs are the others) to suit up for both the Jays and Expos. In all, Ducey played 19 seasons in professional baseball, making him one of just 12 Canadians to do so.
Following his professional career, Ducey competed for Canada at the 2004 Olympics and served as a coach at the 2006 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympics. He has also been a scout for the Blue Jays and is currently working in player development for a Mexican League team.
THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT ROB DUCEY …
First MLB Hit: May 1, 1987. Starting in left field for the Jays that day, Ducey singled to centre field off of Texas Rangers’ right-hander Jose Guzman at Exhibition Stadium in the fifth inning. The Blue Jays won the game 3-2.
First MLB Home Run: September 14, 1987. Ducey replaced Lloyd Moseby in centre field in the seventh inning and clubbed a three-run homer in bottom of that frame off of Baltimore Orioles’ lefty Mike Kinnunen. The Jays belted a big league record 10 round-trippers that game and defeated the Orioles 18-3.
Best MLB Game: August 24, 1999. Batting leadoff and playing centre field for the Philadelphia Phillies, Ducey registered five hits (four singles and a double) and four runs in six at bats in his team’s 18-2 romp of the San Diego Padres at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
Canadian Pitcher He Liked to Face: Right-hander Jason Dickson (Chatham, N.B.). Ducey was 2-for-6 with two doubles off of Dickson, who was an American League all-star in 1996.
Canadian Pitcher(s) He Hated to Face: Right-hander Kirk McCaskill (Kapuskasing, Ont.). Ducey was hitless in seven at bats against McCaskill, a 2003 CBHFM inductee. Ducey was also 1-for-7 in his career against 2010 CBHFM inductee Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.).
Last MLB Hit: July 20, 2001. Suiting up for the Montreal Expos in his final big league season, Ducey’s last big league hit was a single to centre field off of side-arm reliever Steve Reed in the eighth inning at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Expos won the game 6-3.
Last MLB Home Run: June 25, 2001. Starting in left field and batting seventh for the Expos, Ducey connected for his final big league four-bagger off of Marlins’ right-hander A.J. Burnett in the seventh inning of a 3-1 Montreal win at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.
OTHER FUN FACTS:
– When Ducey clubbed his first major league home run in the Blue Jays’ 18-3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles on September 14, 1987, fellow 2013 inductee George Bell also homered twice in that same game. 2009 CBHFM inductee Ernie Whitt also went deep three times in that contest.
– In seven career plate appearances against the legendary Nolan Ryan, Ducey posted a .571 on-base percentage (one hit, three walks).
– Ducey hit two home runs in 11 at bats off of future Cooperstowner Mike Mussina.