Alan Ashby turns 69 today.
Ashby was an original Blue Jays player. We picked him up in a trade from Cleveland November 5th, 1976, five months before our first ever game. Ashby had played parts of the previous four seasons with Cleveland. He hit .227/.304/.320 in 200 games.
He didn’t play in our first game, but he started game 2, batting 9th going 1 for 4 in our franchise’s first loss. Alan would play in 124 games that year, hitting .210/.301/.280 with 2 home runs, 50 walks, and 51 strikeouts. On the defensive side, he threw out 48% of base stealers.
In 1978 he played in 81 games, splitting time with Rick Cerone at catcher. He hit .261/.333/.420 with 9 home runs.
After the season, Ashby was traded to the Astros for Joe Cannon, Pete Hernandez, and Mark Lemongello.
Cannon was an outfielder who would play 131 games over the next two seasons with the Jays. He hit a big .177/.186/.208 and wouldn’t play in the majors again after 1980.
Hernandez was a utility-type player. He played in 11 games for the Blue Jays, 3 in 1979, and 8 in 1982, getting a total of 9 PA without getting on base.
Lemongello pitched in 18 games, making 10 starts in 1979, going 1-9 with a 6.29 ERA. In 83 innings, he allowed 97 hits, 14 home runs, 34 walks, and 40 strikeouts. And he wouldn’t pitch in the majors against after 1979.
Ashby would play out the rest of his career with the Astros. He’d play in Houston for 11 seasons, hitting .252/.324/.324 in 965 games. His best season was 1987, when he hit .288/.367/.438, with 14 homers in 125 games. He was one of the better players on our early teams, he finished his career with a 11.1 bWAR.
We have an excess of catchers in the early days, one of the few positions where we had a few guys who would be good major leaguers: Ernie Whitt, Rick Cerone, and Ashby. Cerone and Ashby ended up traded, Whitt had a very good career with the Jays.
After Ashby’s career he went into coaching and managing in the Astros’ minor league system. In 1998 he became the Astros color commentator for their radio broadcasts, and he kept the job through the 2006 season.
From 2007 through the 2012 season, he did the same job for the Blue Jays radio broadcasts, working with Jerry Howarth. I thought he was very good at the position. He was informative and exciting and could be critical if the situation required it.
After 2012 he went back to working on the Astros broadcasts. He retired a few years ago.