By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
It was exactly 20 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays acquired outfielder Dave Martinez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later (which would be right-hander Peter Munro).
When Martinez suited up with the Blue Jays, it was the fourth major league team he had played with that season. Earlier in the campaign, he had competed in 29 games with the Tampa Bay Rays, then in 18 for the Chicago Cubs followed by 38 with the Rangers before landing in Toronto.
Martinez’s itinerant trek in 2000 got me wondering how many players have suited up for four different teams in a single MLB season?
The answer is 16, according to Baseball Almanac.
The list includes some names that will be familiar to Blue Jays fans. For example, Jose Bautista suited up for the Baltimore Orioles, Rays, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004. Nine years later, revered Blue Jays defensive wizard John McDonald played for the Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox.
And if you’re a really diehard Blue Jays fan, you might remember right-handed reliever Oliver Drake appearing in two games for them in 2018. But the Blue Jays were just one of a record five major league stops (Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Indians and Minnesota Twins were the others) he’d make that season.
However, with this being a Canadian baseball history blog, the most intriguing name on the list of players who suited up for four MLB teams in a season was that of a Canuck.
So who is the only Canadian to compete for four different MLB teams in a single season?
The answer is left-hander Mike Kilkenny, who pitched for the Tigers, A’s, Padres and Indians in 1972.
The Bradford, Ont., native had served a swingman for the Tigers for four parts of thre seasons from 1969 to 1971 before he was dealt to the A’s on May 9, 1972. Eight days later – after making just one appearance for the A’s – he was swapped to the Padres who used him in five contests before flipping him to the Indians. In just over a month, Kilkenny pitched for four different teams.
The versatile southpaw regained his form in Cleveland, posting a 3.41 ERA in 22 games and he took the mound for five games with the Tribe in 1973 before walking away from the professional ranks.
It should be noted that North Delta, B.C., native Jeff Francis (first on the left in the photo above) suited up for three teams – the Cincinnati Reds, A’s and New York Yankees – in 2014, while Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) – also in the photo above – played for the Royals, Rangers and Tigers in 2006.
Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) also toed the rubber for three teams – the Yankees, Padres and Florida Marlins – in 2005.