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Blue Jays Birthdays: John Cerutti and Matt Chapman

Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

John Cerutti would have turned 63 today.

John was a good lefty pitcher for the Blue Jays in the late 1980s. He was 46-37 in 6 seasons for us, starting 108 games and relieving in 83, and had a 3.87 ERA. His best season was 1989, when John went 11-11 in 31 starts, with a 3.07 ERA n 205 innings. The following year he was 9-9 with a 4.76 ERA in 30 games, 23 starts. After the season, he signed with the Tigers as a free agent.

He told a great story about his first major league game.

I was called up on 1 September 1985. I didn’t arrive until the fourth inning of the game because of the flight time and the CNE going on. I got to the clubhouse and I got dressed in my uniform and went into the dugout. I said hello to some of the players that I knew, and Bobby Cox, the manager, said hello and asked me if I was able to pitch. I said, “Yes”, of course. We were playing the Chicago White Sox. I got the call to warm up in the seventh inning when Jim Acker loaded the bases with no one out. Before I knew it, I was called into the game to face Harold Baines, their third hitter and their best hitter. Steve Nicosia was catching. Steve had just joined the club from the Montreal Expos the day before and I had never met him. So when I arrived at the mound, Cox said, “Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Steve this is John. John this is Steve.”

I told Steve I threw a fastball, curveball and forkball, but we better just stick with the first two in this situation. He went back and called for a curveball and I threw it about five feet high: ball one. He called for another curveball and I made an adjustment and I bounced it: ball two. Now everyone knew I was going to throw a fastball, including Harold Baines. I reared back and threw a fastball down the middle of the plate and he foul tipped it back and it struck the umpire. I threw a second fastball, a little bit higher, and Baines swung and missed: 2 -and- 2. I threw another fastball, further up the ladder, and Baines swung and missed: strike three. Then finally, I could breathe.

At that time, Bobby Cox was on his way to the mound. I thought he would go over the next batter, Carlton Fisk. Before I realized it, he was calling Bill Caudill into the game. It took me a moment to figure out I was being relieved. As I walked off the field to a big ovation, I was thinking, “I have struck out everyone I have faced in the big leagues and they are taking me out of the game.”

After his career, Cerutti went into broadcasting, first as a commentator on CBC Jays games, then moving over to TSN. He was good, knowledgeable, and had a good personality for the job.

John died of a heart attack in his hotel room the morning of the last Jays game of 2004, at just 44 years of age , far too young. He should still be doing Jays’ games for us. The Blue Jay BBWAA members have named their annual ‘Good Guy Award’ after Cerutti.

Thomas Pannone turns 29 today.

Pannone has pitched parts of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Jays. He was 7-7, with a 5.43 ERA in 49 games and 13 starts.

Last year he pitched in the KBO. He’s in the Brewers’ minor league system this year.

Shawn Hill turns 42 today.

Shawn made four starts for the Blue Jays in 2010 and one relief appearance in 2012, ending his MLB career. He pitched in 45 games, 44 starts with a 4.69 ERA.

He bounced around from team to team (even was back in the Jays organization), playing in the minors until 2014.

He was born in Mississauga, Ontario.

Matt Chapman turns 30 today.

He’s played 178 games for the Blue Jays in his year and a month with the team. He’s hit .247/.338/.465 with 32 home runs.

In seven seasons, he has a .244/.332/.475 line and 143 home runs, along with three Gold Gloves.

Players tend to have good games on their birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Matt, Thomas and Shawn.