Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays broadcasters and analysts: A look at their playing days

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Jul 18, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki (66) talks with Buck Martinez before a game against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre.The Texas Rangers won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki (66) talks with Buck Martinez before a game against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre.The Texas Rangers won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Before they became the voices you associate with Toronto Blue Jays broadcasts, these five individuals made their names on the field

Behind “swing and a drive”, the Sunday Roast, and your regular broadcasts on a Toronto Blue Jays’ game day are an experienced cast of former players turned broadcasters and analysts.

With a new generation of Blue Jays fans filling the Rogers Centre, it’s important to know the on-field history of the voices and faces that have become so familiar.

From Buck Martinez‘s heroics at home plate to Kevin Barker‘s massive numbers from the minor leagues and outside of the United States, let’s get up to speed.

Buck Martinez

1,049 games played over 17 MLB seasons
.225 AVG  –  58 HR  –  321 RBI

Known to newer fans as the play-by-play voice of the Blue Jays on Sportsnet television, Martinez has seen it all with this organization.

The 67-year-old was originally a second-round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1967 but changed teams twice before his major league debut in 1969.

Martinez was selected by the Houston Astros in the 1968 Rule 5 Draft, then traded from Houston to the Kansas City Royals two weeks later. His first eight seasons were spent with the Royals, but Buck was still finding his way with the bat. In 361 career games with Kansas City, Martinez hit .222 with a .599 OPS.

In the offseason following 1977 he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for relief pitcher Al Hrabosky, but was then immediately flipped to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever George Frazier. After three seasons with the Brewers, Martinez finally landed with the Blue Jays at age 32 in a deal for minor league outfielder Gil Kubski.

The remaining six years of his career were spent with the Blue Jays, where Martinez raised his OPS to .675. After his final season in 1986, Martinez got into broadcasting.

In 1985 came the play than many still remember from Martinez’s career: a double-play turned at the plate after suffering a broken leg in a hard collision.

He did find himself back in the dugout eventually, though, managing the Blue Jays in 2000 and 2001 after Jim Fregosi‘s tenure. The Blue Jays went 100-115 under Martinez.

He’s also picked up the pen recently, releasing a book entitled Change Up: How to Make the Great Game of Baseball Even Better.

The ‘Whoa’ Stat:

Despite not topping five home runs in a single season elsewhere in his career, Martinez posted back-to-back 10-homer campaigns for the Blue Jays in 1982 and 1983.

Next up, Buck’s right-hand man in the booth…

Next: Why Tabler was known as Mr. Clutch...

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