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Happy Birthday Willie Upshaw, Frank Catalanotto and Chris Carpenter

Former Jay first baseman, Willie Upshaw, turns 59 today.

Willie was a very successful rule 5 draft pick up from the Yankees. The Yankees drafted him in the 5th round in 1978. He moved up the minor league system quickly, but the Yankees had Chris Chambliss. Chambliss left the Yankees after the 1979 season, signing with the Braves. The Yankees went through a few players at the position before Don Mattingly took over in 1983.

Willie played 9 seasons with the Jays. His best was 1983, when he hit .306/.373/.515 with 27 homers and 104 RBI. The next season he dropped to 19 home runs, with a .278/.345/.464 line and his career sort of went downhill from there. After 1987 he signed as a free agent with the Indians.

He finished his career with 123 home runs, 528 RBI and a .262.335/.419 line. I wonder what he is doing now.

Frank Catalanotto turns 42 today.

Frankwas a 10th round draft pick for the Tigers, he played 3 seasons for the Tigers and then was part of a big trade between the Tigers and the Texas Rangers. He, Alan Webb, Francisco Cordero, Bill Haselman, Gabe Kapler and Jestin Thompson went to the Rangers for Juan Gonzalez, Danny Patterson and Gregg Zaun, After 3 seasons with the Rangers, he signed with the Jays as a free agent.

For us he platooned with Reed Johnson in the outfield. They were a great pairing. In 4 seasons with the Jays, Frank hit.299/.361/.445, with 29 home runs and 200 RBI, playing mostly against right-handed pitchers. Both he and Johnson were fan favorites. After the 2007 season Frank signed with the Rangers again and then spent some time as a Brewer and a Met. He also played for Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

Also celebrating birthdays today are:

  • Chris Carpenter (41) pitched 6 seasons for the Blue  Jays, going 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA in 152 games (135 starts), before blowing out his shoulder. The Jays wanted to take him off the 40-man roster but Chris found the Cardinals were willing to pay him as a major leaguer while he rehabbed. It worked out well for St. Louis, he won the Cy Young in 2005, and had 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the voting. The last time he played in the majors was 2012, he only made three regular season starts and then pitched twice in the playoffs, taking losses in both games. He finished his career with a 144-94 record and a 3.76 ERA.
  • Bob Macdonald (51). Macdonald was a lefty reliever for the Jays back in 1991 and 1992. He had a pretty good season in 1991, with a 2.85 ERA in 45 appearances. After earning a World Series ring in 92, Bob signed as a free agent with the Astros, and then bounced around to the Mariners, White Sox, Yankees and Mets over the next few years. He relieved in 197 major league games, in his career, finishing with a 4.34 ERA.
  • Pat Lennon (48). Pat was a first round draft pick by the Mariners in 1986. He played for our Triple-A team in 1998 and 1999 and had a couple of cups of coffee with the major league team. He played in the majors for bits of 6 seasons, but only has 189 total at bats. I wanted Pat to get a chance in the majors. He had pretty good minor league numbers, .291/.374/.480 with 187 minor league home runs. He played here in Calgary for one season, hitting .329/.400/.531 for the Calgary Cannons, at a time I had season tickets. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess. Mariners had Ken Griffey and Jay Buhner in the outfield, when Pat was ready to make it to the majors.

Happy birthday to the above. Hope it is a great day.