Posted 3 days ago

Adam Lind illustration, Toronto Life, November 2014

Toronto Life did a piece on courtside celebrities at Toronto Raptors games in the Drake era. Kagan McLeod is honestly one of my favourite illustrators, and he drew a lovely row of a dozen celebs. Here’s the blurb for “Blue Jays slugger Adam Lind”:

Showed up wearing an Indiana Pacers hat (he’s from there), which he removed at staff’s gentle urging.

I love that he wore a Pacers hat!

Posted 6 days ago

Ralph Platner, “Program Guy” 2011 Globe & Mail article

It’s been heartening to see people sharing messages and rememberances of the recently departed Ralph - longtime Blue Jays (and Leafs and Raptors) program vendor. I’ve had a few people that knew him personally reach out to me to find out further information. One thing I was tipped off about was a newspaper article from a few years ago. It was in the July 3, 2011 Globe & Mail and I think you’ll find it an enjoyable read.

Ralphael Platner, a Toronto legend with encyclopedic recall

photo credit: Chris Young for The Globe and Mail

Posted 1 week ago

R.I.P. Ralph Platner, “Program Guy”

The man known as Ralph to his friends has been selling programs, food, or souvenirs at Blue Jays games since season one at Exhibition Stadium (1977). People like Raph the Program Guy (and Rick the Blue Jay drummer, and Wayne the Ice Cold Beer vendor, et al) add a lot of flavour to the ballpark experience. I really get a kick out of seeing them doing their thing game after game year after year.

Ralph missed most of the 2014 Blue Jays season due to a stroke that he never recovered from. I found out today that he recently died at the age of 67. What great condition he was in! In tribute I am sharing this selection of pictures I captured of him plying his trade. I like that it shows him outside/inside, standing/on the move, 100 level/500 level, and SkyDome/ACC.

July 1, 2011 pre-game outside gate 11
September 8, 2011 climbing the aisles in the 100 level
April 2, 2013 pre-game in the 500 level
February 21, 2014 lower bowl at the Raptors (last photo I have of him)

Ralph Platner: October 1, 1947 - October 9, 2014

Funeral information and condolence messages here.

Two prior posts I did on Ralph appear here and here.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Tales From The Blue Jays Dugout - book cover

This book came out this year but I hadn’t even heard about it until I saw it at the library (shoutout to the TPL!). I figured I’d give it a shot, because I like baseball stories as much as the next guy. The book is structured alphabetically by player (and occasional manager, coach, stadium, etc.), going from Ainge to Zaun in 137 entries.

Jim Prime, the author, has written several books on baseball (mostly Red Sox - and some co-writing with Ted Williams), and these stories do a good job of spanning all eras of the team - including lots of coverage of the underachieving 2013 team. He leans heavily on quotes from three people with a history with the team: Jerry Howarth, Paul Hodgson, and Matt Stairs. Hodgson and Stairs are, just like the author, east coast Canadian boys, and I can’t help but think that’s why they were kind enough to help him out. While I liked their insider views, I kept wishing he’d reached out to more players (Hodgson only played 20 games in 1980, and Stairs was only on the Jays in 2007-2008).

Overall I’d give it a so-so score. I didn’t mind hearing most of the stories I was familiar with (I found myself trying to anticipate what he’d talk about with each guy), and I certainly enjoyed some of the new-to-me stories (like one about pitcher Jose Nunez coming to bat in the spring with a warmup jacket on and a helmet with the wrong earflap, then switch-hitting instead of bothering to return to the dugout). However, I was turned off by the number of errors I came across (probably 10-12) and there are way too many corny joke attempts. For example, on Matt Stairs: “he lived in more cities than The Fugtive, had more uniform changes than a mud-wrestling team, and sported more numbers than a University of Waterloo math exam.” The bottom line is it’s a quick and easy read; if it was a movie I’d call it a rental, so I’m not sorry I took it out from the library but I’d probably be disappointed if I paid $26 for the hardcover.

Posted 1 month ago

Melky Cabrera doing that thing that Kawasaki imitated

Since we all miss Melky a little after his season-ending injury, I thought I’d post a video of him doing his look-the-ball-into-the-cather’s-mitt-and-freeze thing. Munenori Kawasaki’s imitation of this (as filmed by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion) made the rounds earlier this year.

Posted 1 month ago

John Mayberry, 1980 Scorebook volume 4 no. 13

Seeing as his son made his Blue Jays debut last night, it’s as good a time as any for another “Big John” cap and helmet combo photo. 

John Mayberry was arguably the best Blue Jay of the early years. He came to the Jays in 1978, from the strong Royals teams of the mid ’70s where he was a two-time all-star, and the AL MVP runner-up in 1976. He still holds the Royals’ single season record for walks with 122 in 1973. The 30 HR he hit in 1980 was the Blue Jays record until 1986, and when he left for the Yankees after the 1982 season (Willie Upshaw was ready to become the starting 1B), he was the team’s all-time leader in HR and RBI.

After all these years, Big John is tied with George Bell for 8th all-time in Blue Jays career OPS+ at 119 (minimum 500 games). I would love it if John Mayberry Jr. would wear the cap-helmet combo for a home game as a homage to his dad.

Posted 1 month ago

Topps 2012 Blue Jays team set

It’s amazing that this set came out only 2 years ago, and of the 16 players in the set, only 4 (Bautista, Cecil, Encarnacion, Lind) will be playing meaningful time down the stretch. Two. Years. Ago.

Posted 1 month ago

Blue Jays 1988 top prospects, Baseball Digest March 1988

On the day when the September call-ups arrived for action, here were the top Blue Jays prospects heading into the 1988 season. In honour of Dalton Pompey, there’s even some Canadian content on this list.

When you look at how long this group stuck around in the majors, it’s a pretty good list.

Wells - 53.5 career WAR, 21 seasons
Stottlemyre - 21.1 WAR, 14 seasons
Myers - 7.4 WAR, 18 seasons
Ducey - 3.3 WAR, 13 seasons
Campusano - 0.0 WAR, 3 seasons

Posted 2 months ago

Blue Jays television broadcasters, Scorebook Magazine 1983 vol. 7

Don Chevrier had a great voice, was very knowledgeable, and was a supremely versatile play by play man (check out the list above). As his obit in the Toronto Star noted, “If there was a sport Don Chevrier couldn’t call, it was probably only because he hadn’t been asked.” He called the very first Blue Jays game on CBC in 1977 and carried on broadcasting the team’s games for 20 years.

Tony Kubek was also a real pro, getting high profile World Series, ALCS, and All-Star game assignments for NBC. He was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Ford C. Frick Award in 2009. He was the first Frick winner whose broadcast career was solely in television, and the first to have called games for a Canadian team (he did colour for the Jays from 1977 to 1989).

Fergie Olver was a real dolt. On top of his beside-the-dugout reporting, he was also the host of a Canadian game show called Just Like Mom from 1980 to 1985 that was a kid/mom version of The Newlywed Game. Here is some footage from the show where you won’t believe how pervy/creepy he looks.

Posted 3 months ago

Toronto ‘91 All-Star Game program

This looks cut-off on the right because it was a gatefold, with the pitchers continuing on.