Former Blue Jay catcher, color commentator and manager Buck Martinez turns 51 today. Buck started his major league career with with the Kansas City Royals, spent 8 seasons there and then 3 in Milwaukee before being traded to the Jays. For 6 seasons he was the right-handed hitting half of a very successful catching platoon with Ernie Whitt for our Jays. He was a very good defensive catcher and had an ok bat against left-handed pitching with pretty decent power.
His career basically ended on a play in Seattle. Martinez broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in a collision at home plate. He held the ball for the out then tried to get the runner going to third but over-threw the third baseman. But he tagged that runner out at home, catching the throw back from George Bell while laying on the ground in pain. It was one of those plays that I'll never forget. He did try to comeback the next season but only hit .181 and retired from playing after that.
He played 17 seasons in the majors and finished with a .225/.284/.343 line, 58 homers and 321 RBI in 1049 games.
The next year he started his career as a color commentator. He was very good at it. He worked at TSN, until the Jays decided that since he could talk about baseball he must be able to manage. In 2001 he led the Jays to a 80-82 record. 2002 didn't start well and after going 20-33, new GM JP Riccardi fired him. The idea of hiring someone that had no experience as a manager wasn't a good one but Gord Ash made a number of poor moves as GM. Buck went back to being a color commentator, working for the Baltimore Orioles since and works on the TBS Sunday games.
Buck also managed team USA in the 2006 WBC.