Roy Halladay would have turned 44 today.
Roy was either the best or the second-best Blue Jays starter of all time, depending on who you ask, but there is no doubt he and Dave Stieb are the two best starters in our history. In my mind, Stieb was the best AL pitcher of the 1980s, and Halladay was the best AL pitcher of the ‘aughts.’ Doc is second on our franchise wins list at 148 (Stieb had 175), second in BWAR at 48.5 (Stieb 57.2), third in starts at 287 (behind Stieb 408 and Jim Clancy 345).
Roy won 2 Cy Youngs (one as a Jay, one as a Philly) and finished in the top 5 in voting five other times, and he was a member of 8 All-Star teams. For many of the years that he was a Blue Jay, he was one of the few bright spots on a rather average squad. I always looked forward to his starts. Beyond all the ability, he was a competitor. On days he was going to pitch, he was locked in. Teammates and, especially, the press didn’t talk to him. He kept focused on the job at hand.
Few things made me as sad as Halladay’s death.
The City of Toronto has named Toronto’s first fully accessible baseball field after him. Jays Care has ‘committed $1 million to the project’. It is a very nice tribute to Doc.
Pat Borders turns 58 today. Borders was never a great player or a great hitter. He only had one season as a Jay, where he hit better than average. 1990 his OPS+ was 120. He hit .286, 15 home runs. Pat’s on-base average was above .300 (.319) for the only time in his years as a Jay. His Jay career offensive win percentage is .458. He did have decent power; if he could have learned to take a walk, it would have helped. But he was a tough catcher and a good handler of pitchers. He had a decent arm but was never really a candidate for a Gold Glove.
Pat played 747 games for the Jays, putting him second in games played by a catcher to Ernie Whitt. And he would play for eight other MLB teams. He was still playing ball at age 42.
He was the World Series MVP in 1992, and every Jays’ fan owe him a beer or two for that alone. I’m sure, if he wants, he could have a career as a coach or manager somewhere, but after a 17-year major league career, he deserves to relax after wearing the ‘tools of ignorance’ for so long. Actually, I see a mention that he was working with the Phillies’ taxi squad. He always seemed like one of the guys with who you’d like to share a drink. He was just a good guy, a hard worker.
One other birthday I have to mention is Dennis Martinez, who turns 67 today. Dennis was never a Jay in his 23-year career, but he did spend eight years as an Expo. He has 245 wins to his credit, but one I’ll never forget is the perfect game he threw against the Dodgers in 1991. Dave Van Horne, who was and still is (he does the Marlins games), a terrific play-by-play commentator, did a great job at the end, saying, “El Presidente, El Perfecto.” Dennis beat alcoholism to become one of the best pitchers of his time.
He was a one-and-out in the Hall of Fame vote, which is a shame. He was a terrific pitcher.
Also having birthdays:
Hosken Powell turns 66 today. Powell had a six-year MLB career, 4 with the Twins and the last 2 with the Jays.
He played for the Jays in the 1982 and 1983 seasons. He was pretty ok in 1982, hitting .275/.304/.389 in 112 games. 1983 didn’t go as well, hitting .169/.213/.205 in 40 games before being released on July 10th. Career he hit .259/.314/.349 with 17 homers (and 17 triples) in 594 games. He also had 43 steals, mainly playing right field. He was a left-handed hitter, but he hit much the same vs. LHP (.649 OPS) as RHP (.665 OPS). I don’t remember much about him, other than I liked his card in Strat-0-Matic Baseball.
Mark Dalesandro turns 53 today. Mark was a backup catcher for us for parts of 1998 and 1999, playing a total of 48 games for the Jays, hitting .266/.276/.383 with 2 home runs. He also played a handful of games for the Angels and one game for the White Sox.