Blue Jay way helped organically produce latest all-star contingent
LOS ANGELES — It is almost by definition an event to celebrate individual accomplishments, a gathering of the best in the game. But the five Blue Jays who made the trip to the West Coast as participants in the 92nd Major League Baseball all-star game are also representative of an organizational triumph for the Toronto franchise. Each of that fivesome relishing the experience at Dodger Stadium this week was not a ready-made major leaguer when they entered the Jays system. They all spent some developmental time and multiple stops in the minors before making it to the big team. From the highest-profile of the group — Vlad Guerrero Jr.
TORONTO — An impromptu receiving line formed by home plate at Rogers Centre as members of the Toronto Blue Jays gathered to welcome back Buck Martinez. © Provided by The Canadian Press
Outfielder Raimel Tapia, interim manager John Schneider and other members of the team staff were eager to greet the veteran Blue Jays broadcaster. Martinez, 73, stepped away from the job in mid-April after being diagnosed with cancer.
He has since completed his treatment for the disease and returned to the booth Tuesday night as Toronto hosted the National League's St. Louis Cardinals.
"We were all hoping this day would come this year, but we had to wait and see how his treatment was going, and how he was feeling," said Dan Shulman, Martinez's broadcast partner for Tuesday's game, standing nearby as Martinez shook hands with several Blue Jays players.
With a new manager and a break to reboot Blue Jays ready for crunch time
BOSTON – At 93 games in, the Blue Jays are well past the half-way point of their 2022 schedule, still looking to reach full throttle. With an all-star break providing an opportunity to exhale, however, the unofficial second half launches here on Friday. It begins with new manager John Schneider and the rest of the Jays facing the Red Sox in a three-game series at historic Fenway Park. While not exactly a mathematical midway, the series serves up an opportunity for the Jays to vault into an extended run the likes they have only hinted at during the first portion of the season.
"It's awesome. He's been in Toronto as part of the franchise for the better part of 40 years so it's great to see him back."
Between the top and the bottom of the second inning the Blue Jays paid tribute to Martinez. Toronto's relief pitchers came out of the bullpen and the lineup came out of the dugout, all tipping their caps to him in the broadcast booth on Rogers Centre's 300 level behind home plate.
Martinez was shown on the ballpark's big screen, saluting the crowd and putting his hand to his heart to show his appreciation. The camera also flashed to several fan-made signs welcoming Martinez back and his family was shown in their seats.
His ties to the Blue Jays date back to 1981 when he started a six-year stint as one of the team's catchers. Martinez played 17 years in Major League Baseball, including stops with the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers.
SIMMONS SUNDAY: Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah is his own kind of star
He couldn’t be more different — Alek Manoah from Dave Stieb, from the late Roy Halladay, from the greatest starting pitchers ever developed by the Blue Jays. Manoah oozes personality along with pitching poise. He wants the ball, the headlines, the show, everything that goes with being a major-league star. He has demonstrated that since arriving in Toronto a year ago, and he gave a peak to the rest of the baseball world on Tuesday night at the All-Star Game, pitching and broadcasting an inning, smiling his way through his three strikeouts, all at the very same time.
He was hired as Blue Jays' manager in 2001, but was fired midway through his second season after compiling a 100-115 record.
Martinez first stepped behind the microphone in 1987 as a colour commentator for Jays games on TSN. Shulman noted that when he first became a broadcaster in 1995 he was paired with Martinez.
"That's the guy who taught me everything," said Shulman, gesturing toward Martinez. "I think for us it'll be like riding a bike once we get up there and start doing it again. We've done it so many times together.
"Most importantly, I'm just happy that he's healthy, and that he's healthy enough to be back here."
Shulman said Martinez watched every game as he recovered. Shulman added that after every game Martinez would text him and fellow broadcaster Pat Tabler his thoughts on how the Blue Jays played.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2022
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Blue Jays' Matt Chapman says Drake had no clue who he was .
Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays might know all about Matt Chapman thanks to his heroics on the field, but Drake had no clue who the third baseman was when they met inside a local restaurant recently. During an interview with CityNews , the 2019 American League All-Star said he bumped into the Grammy-winning rapper and he had no idea he was in the presence of one of the Jays’ hottest hitters. “I ran into Drake — wait, actually, let me rephrase this. I don’t think Drake knew who I was,” Chapman said. “He happened to be at the same restaurant as me. He was in a private area. I went in, and someone said, ‘Hey, Matt Chapman is here. Drake, you need to meet him.