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Happy Birthday Buck Martinez

Everyone's favorite play-by-play man, Buck Martinez, turns 63 today.

Buck had a 17 season career as a catcher in the major leagues. 6 of those seasons were with the Blue Jays. He worked as the right-handed half of a very successful platoon pairing with Ernie Whitt. Buck was a good glove/bad bat, back up catcher for most of his career but he did learn to turn on a pitch, at least occasionally, with the Jays. He hit 10 home runs in two consecutive seasons for the Jays, both in less than 300 PA.

Buck's playing career pretty much ended on a collision at home plate July 9, 1985 at Kingdome in Seattle. Phil Bradley ran over him on this play. If you look at the video, that was one amazing throw from Jesse Barfield to get Bradley at the plate and then another good throw from George Bell in left, after Buck's overthrow to third, to get Gorman Thomas, the second out at home on the play. A 9-2-7-2 double play. Buck broke a leg and dislocated an ankle on the play. He did try a comeback in 1986 but only hit .181/.271/.269.

Buck went straight into broadcasting after he retired as a player, working as a radio color analyst then moving to TV with TSN. He also worked some ESPN games.

After the 2000, Toronto GM Gord Ash decided that, since Buck could talk about baseball, he could manage as well. Buck led the Jays to a 80-82 record in 2001 and then started 2002 20-33 before he was fired. Not one of Gord Ash's better moves.

Buck went straight back the broadcast booth, doing color for the Orioles. He also worked weekend games for TBS. In 2010 he took over from Jaime Campbell, doing play-by-play for the Jays games on RSN. As much as I liked him as an analyst with Jim Hughson and Dan Shulman, I'm not as thrilled with his play-by-play.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Buck. Have a good one.