Pat Borders, he always had that big wad of tobacco in his cheek. (gettyimages)
Patrick Lance Borders | C | 1988-1994, 1999
Notable Achievements: 1992 World Series MVP
Born May 14, 1963, in Columbus, Ohio, Pat Borders was drafted in the 6th round of the 1982 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent his first two seasons in pro ball as a third baseman and led the league in errors in both so they moved him to first in 1984. He started catching in 1986, which was for the best; he would have never made the majors as a corner infielder with his bat.
Pat Borders was never a great hitter, but then the Blue Jay teams he played for had tones of offensive ability, what they needed at catcher was durability and consistency. They got that in Pat.
Pat only had one season as a Jay where he hit better than average. In 1990 he had an OPS+ of 120 and a batting average of .286 with 15 home runs and his only on base above .300 (.319) in his time as a Jay. His Jay career offensive win percentage is .458. He did have some power, if he could have learned to take a walk it would have helped. But he was a tough catcher and a good handler of pitchers. He had a decent arm (he threw out 35% of base stealers in his career) but was never really a candidate for a Gold Glove, though maybe he should have been,
He came up in 1988 to take Buck Martinez' role as the right handed half of a catching platoon with Ernie Whitt. After the 1989 season Whitt was traded to the Braves and Borders became the full time catcher for 5 seasons till he left the Jays as free agent to sign with the Kansas City Royals.He then bounced from team to team as a backup catcher or an insurance policy in Triple A.
The Jays were one of the top teams in baseball during Pat's time with the team. They won the division title in '89 and '91 but lost in the ALCS both years. In 1992, when the Jays won their first of two World Series, Pat was an offensive force in the ALCS against the A's hitting .318/.320/.455 in the 6 games. In the World Series he was terrific batting .450/.500/.750 with 3 doubles and a home run. He deservedly won the World Series MVP as well as a place in the hearts of Jay's fans forever.
He contributed to winning the 1993 World Series batting .304/.360/.304 in 6 games against the Phillies. After winning the second World Series things went downhill, both for the team and for Pat. Borders left as a free agent after the 1994 season and played for 10 teams over the next 10 years including another turn with the Jays in 1999 when he played 6 games down the stretch.
In total, as a Jay, Borders hit .256/.290/.388, with 54 home runs, and 272 RBI in 747 games over 8 seasons. He also caught In September 1990 Pat caught Dave Stieb's no-hitter In September 1990 .
Bill James called Pat the ‘best looking' Jay in his 1992 Baseball Book. I'm sure I would have no idea so I won't argue. In Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups he picked Borders as the Jays 2nd best catcher ever, behind Ernie Whitt. The books is form 2003, so he might feel different by now.
Pat is also only one of three Americans who have won a World Series and an Olympic Gold Medal. The other two? Doug Mientkiewicz and Ed Sprague. My oldest son likes him because he was good in the computer baseball game he used to play, Baseball Mogul. He was telling me how Borders hit for a good average, with power and some walks....I had to break it to him that it maybe wasn't the most accurate portrait of the man.
Borders stayed in the game playing in the minors, when he couldn't get a major league job, until May 2008. You have to admire someone that loves the game that much. I'm sure he could stay in the game as a coach or manager. Pat was among the alumni that appeared at Rogers Centre, for a reunion of the World Series teams, August 7, 2009. He caught Cito Gaston's first pitch that day.
He never was an All-Star and really, at best, had pretty average numbers for a catcher but he was tough, I'd bet there is no Blue Jay catcher that had as many big collisions at the plate. He was the type of player that gave you the idea that he had value beyond his stats.
Pat is married and has, at the last could I can find, 8 children, there may be more by now. He has a cattle ranch in Florida.
Pat Borders place among Blue Jay batting leaders:
Batting Average (>1500 PA): 35th, .256.
OBP (>1500 PA) 42nd, .290.
Slugging (>1500 PA) 36th, .388.
Games Played: 22th, 747
Runs Scored: 42nd, 205.
Hits: 27th, 590.
Doubles: 26th, 127.
Homers: 33rd, 54.
RBI: 28th, 272.