Today we start a series of remembering your favourite Blue Jays’ players, where we’ll go position by position to put together the all-fan team.
The voting for this is not intended to be based off who was the best player, but rather who you enjoyed cheering for the most.
First up, the catchers, and I’ll highlight some of the more prominent ones.
Ernie Whitt (1977-1989)
The Blue Jays selected Whitt with the 34th selection in the 1976 expansion draft from the Boston Red Sox. He spent the first couple years backing up Alan Ashby before becoming the full time starting catcher from 1980 through 1989, establishing himself as the Jays’ franchise leader in pretty much all catcher categories. He was the first Blue Jays’ catcher to make the all star team, earning the honours in 1985. He came in in the top of the 6th to catch battery mate Dave Stieb. He ended up behind the plate for 2 innings, where he allowed a stolen base to Jose Cruz Sr.
His time with the Jays was predominately before my memory, so I don’t have any specific stories about him. But the 2009 inductee into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has had a lot of involvement in Canadian baseball since his playing days ended as well, including a lot of time coaching the kids on the international stage.
Buck Martinez (1981-1986)
The right handed swinging Martinez platooned with Whitt through the first half of the 80s, putting up some pretty mediocre offensive numbers (83 wRC+ in 454 games), but was there when the team made their climb to relevancy. Of course, he wasn’t a part of the Jays playoffs in 1985, because of this incredible and life changing play:
This collision (and double play) happened on July 9, 1985. He missed the rest of the season and run to the ALCS, but worked his way back for the 1986 season. That would be his last as a player, but as you all know, his commitment to the Jays didn’t end there. CBC has a nice story about his life, and Jays’ fans have seen him announce games, manage, and then make his way back into the booth. I’m not sure what the plan for him going forward is, but I’m sure we haven’t heard the last from him.
Pat Borders (1988-1994)
Pat Borders was the Blue Jays’ 6th round draft pick in 1982, and his development lined up perfectly for him to take over for Whitt. Borders was Whitt’s backup for 1988 and 1989, before he took on the full time role in 1990.
Borders was of course there for both World Series wins, picking up World Series MVP honours in the 1992 win over the Atlanta Braves. He hit .256/.290/.388 over 747 regular season games for the Blue Jays, but hit .450/.500/.750 with 3 doubles and a home run in that World Series.
Hazel Mae sat down with him recently and had a nice interview.
Pat Borders only had one hit in Game 4 but boy was it ever a big one. @thehazelmae chatted with Borders about facing @Tom_Glavine.— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 2, 2020
Watch Borders and the @BlueJays take on Glavine and the @Braves in Game 4 at 10pm ET on SN and SN NOW. https://t.co/vMsgyEObl1 . #BlueJaysonSN pic.twitter.com/f0GDlKsfQF
Darrin Fletcher (1998-2002)
Fletcher might be better known for his time with the Expos (and if you vote for him in part for that reason, that’s alright too), but he was still entertaining in his time as a Blue Jay too. In 2000, he became the first Blue Jays’ catcher to hit 20 home runs, giving the Jays some left handed power from behind the plate. He hit .320/.355/.514 in 445 plate appearances that season, part of a pretty potent Blue Jays offense that season. His 80 RBI in 1999 are also still the high point for the position for the Jays.
I don’t have any anecdotes from his playing days, but I really enjoyed watching him, and he’s probably my vote for this list. He was a really big part of my formative years as a Jays’ fan.
Gregg Zaun (2004-2008)
The former manalyst for the Jays’ TV broadcast spent a few years as catcher for the Jays in the mid-2000s, and he had a pretty productive stretch too. He was arguably the third best offensive catcher in the team’s history, while giving the Jays solid defense as well. He was an underrated performer on some promising teams, but it’ll be interesting to see if he was anyone’s favourite.
Russell Martin (2015-2018)
Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin Jr. came to the Blue Jays on a team free agent record 5 years, $82m deal prior to the start of the 2015 season. He proceeded to put up an all star season while helping carry the Jays back to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. His 2015 season was statistically the best in Blue Jays’ history for a catcher, and while he didn’t do a whole lot in the playoffs, he was still a very popular player in his time here. Of all the Canadians to have played for the Jays, he was the best to do it over his 4 seasons in Toronto.
There have been 78 different people to have donned the tools of ignorance for the Blue Jays, and your favourite certainly doesn’t have to be one of the six above. It could be one of the current guys in Danny Jansen or Reese McGuire, it could be a future one in Alejandro Kirk, or someone from the past that I didn’t mention here. Whoever it is, let us know!
Who is your favourite catcher in Jays’ history?
This poll is closed
Someone else (let us know in the comments)