January 26, 2021
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly roundup of former Toronto Blue Jays news and notes:
–LHP Matt Dermody has signed a one-year deal with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, per Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
–LHP J.A. Happ has signed a one-year, $8-million contract with the Minnesota Twins, per Jon Heyman of the MLB Network.
–RHP Anthony Bass has signed a two-year contract that guarantees him $5 million with the Miami Marlins, per Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. The deal includes a team option for 2023.
“Most Influential” Ex-Blue Jays
Hall of Fame writer Bob Elliott devotes countless hours each year to assembling his annual list of the 100 most influential Canadians in baseball. His 2020 list was released on Monday. Hall of Famer and former Montreal Expo Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) topped the list for a second consecutive year, but several former Blue Jays players and executives were also acknowledged. Here’s a rundown of their rankings:
#2 Alex Anthopoulos – former Blue Jays GM
#12 Pat Gillick – former Blue Jays GM
#16 Ellen Harrigan – former administrative assistant and GM of the St. Catharines Blue Jays
#28 Paul Beeston – former president and CEO and first employee of the Blue Jays
#43 Dave McKay – former Blue Jays infielder, first Canadian to play for the Blue Jays
#45 Stubby Clapp – former infielder and coach in the Blue Jays organization
#60 Gord Ash – former Blue Jays GM
#98 Rob Ducey – former outfielder with the Blue Jays
You can read the full list here. A subscription is required. But don’t worry, it’s only $2 a month. Or you can get access for one day for 99 cents.
It was 36 years ago Saturday that the Blue Jays selected a hard-throwing right-handed pitching prospect named Tom Henke from the Texas Rangers as compensation for the Rangers signing free agent Cliff Johnson. The rest, as they say, is history. After he was called up in late July of 1985, Henke evolved into the greatest closer in Blue Jays’ history. From 1985 to 1992, he recorded 217 saves and compiled a 2.48 ERA and helped them win the 1992 World Series.
I’ve long felt that Henke deserves to be on the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre and I’ve made the case that his career numbers compare favourably to those of Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith. But here’s something very impressive that I didn’t know about Henke that was sent to me via Twitter:
If you don’t know what the ERA+ stat means, here is MLB.com’s definition of it: “ERA+ takes a player’s ERA and normalizes it across the entire league. It accounts for external factors like ballparks and opponents. It then adjusts, so a score of 100 is league average, and 150 is 50 percent better than the league average.”
So after reading this definition, think about how good that makes Henke’s 157 ERA+?
1977 Toronto Blue Jays spring training ticket prices
I was doing some research this week and stumbled upon the article below about tickets for the Toronto Blue Jays’ inaugural spring training games in Dunedin, Fla.
So how much did it cost to watch the expansion Blue Jays’ during their first Grapefruit League games in March 1977?
Well, $25 would get you a ticket to 14 games and free parking.
Happy Birthday to Wayne Gretzky!
Wayne Gretzky once said that there was a time during his childhood when he liked baseball more than hockey. Back in 1973, the Chatham Kinsmen Peewee baseball team had advanced to the national tournament and were allowed to pick up a few players from neighbouring towns to enhance their roster. Their coaches chose to add a 12-year-old Gretzky out of Brantford. It proved to be a good decision. The Chatham team went on to win the Canadian championship. The photo below is part of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection.
On this day in Blue Jays history . . .
Thirty-six years ago today, the Blue Jays acquired left-handed reliever Gary Lavelle from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for right-handers Jim Gott and Jack McKnight and infielder Augie Schmidt.
It was a move that paid immediate dividends for the Blue Jays. Lavelle was a key reliever for their first division-winning squad in 1985. He posted a 3.10 ERA in 69 appearances and limited opponents to 54 hits in 72 2/3 innings that season.