Toronto Blue Jays History

Blue Jays Broadcasters deserve to be in St.Marys Hall of Fame

Brent Cardy
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 16: Former players and Sportsnet broadcasters Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler before the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 16, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 16: Former players and Sportsnet broadcasters Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler before the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 16, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays Broadcasters Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler belong in The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys Ontario when they finish their careers.

No, this is not a rib or a joke. Buck and Pat, your favourite Toronto Blue Jays Broadcast Team belong in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in beautiful St. Marys, Ontario.

No they are not like Jack Graney award winners Dan Shulman or Jerry Howarth. They also didn’t play like potential future inductees Jose Bautista or Russell Martin. See, the case for Buck and Pat to be inducted into St. Marys is different.

Buck Martinez came to the Blue Jays in 1981 via a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers. Martinez told me in an interview that when he arrived to Exhibition Stadium he wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?” Little did he know that he’d be employed by the Blue Jays for a long time after. Martinez settled in and tried to help up and comer Ernie Whitt establish himself as a Major League catcher.

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Eventually Martinez and Whitt became a platoon under Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox. Buck was part of the first Blue Jays club to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, he had to watch the stretch drive and the playoffs from the bench.

July 9, 1985 at the Kingdome in Seattle against the Mariners.

Martinez documents this play in his book Change Up: How to make the great game of baseball even better.

There was a play a few innings earlier when Martinez fielded a throw on the first base side of the bag from Right Fielder Jesse Barfield. Buck jokingly asked Jesse if he could make sure the throw was to the third base side so Buck didn’t have to reach for the ball.

Well… Watch what happened below courtesy of JomBoy Media on YouTube.

That play essentially ended Buck’s career. He attempted a comeback in 1986 and retired after 81 games. Buck thought and hoped he could catch on elsewhere in baseball. He was offered a position to be the Colour Commentator for TSN’S broadcasts but he turned it down as he thought he had more left in the tank. When he told his wife Arlene what happened, he was directed to call Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick back and he was to accept that job.

Martinez started broadcasting for TSN with Fergie Oliver, and he admitted a few things to me in our interview about his transition. He felt he wasn’t very good at broadcasting to start. He also told me that he took acting classes to improve his delivery. His wife Arlene was an actress, and she hooked him up with those. Martinez continued to work on the craft.

Buck would broadcast Blue Jays games over the years with Jim Hughson. Hughson departed his position to focus on calling National Hockey League games. It was from Hughson’s departure in 1995 that the legendary partnership with Dan Shulman started to form.

Dan and Buck were the Television version of Tom and Jerry. They called games together until Martinez was hired on as the Blue Jays Manager in 2000. He was part of the decision-making of the team to send Roy Halladay all the way down to the Minor Leagues to rebuild himself as a pitcher. Martinez was eventually fired in 2002, and due to his issues with J.P. Riccardi, he didn’t return to the Blue Jays until 2010. It was that season he returned as the Play by Play voice for Sportsnet. A very hard position to do, and one he has held since.

The case for Martinez to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is based on a few factors. The first is longevity. Buck’s contribution to the Blue Jays organization has been over 32 seasons. Martinez’s contributions have been felt from coast to coast in Canada. He has educated us on the game of baseball and how it works. That is what the baseball Colour Commentator does. How many Blue Jays fans have not grown up listening to Buck Martinez?  Martinez also calls the MLB network’s International coverage of the World Series.

Pat Tabler arrived to the big leagues in 1981 with the Chicago Cubs. Tabler became popular in his time playing for Cleveland. He was an All-Star for the club in 1987, and Tabler’s claim to fame was his ability to get hits with the bases loaded, going 43 for 88 in his career.

The 90’s were an interesting time for Pat. In 1991 he arrived to Toronto, and in 1992 he won a World Series. In 1993 he retired and became a Studio Analyst for TSN. Tabler continued to work in the studio until Buck was hired as the Manager of the Blue Jays in 2000.

Tabler became the Colour Commentator for TSN. A position he held until Sportsnet took over complete Blue Jays coverage for all 162 games, and he stayed on with Sportsnet as the lead Baseball Analyst. Pat grew into the role while Buck was working with the Baltimore Orioles.  Buck and Pat started working together on a full-time basis when Buck returned in 2010.

Tabler has been a part of many Jays camps working with young kids to show them the ins and outs of baseball. I believe that his longevity working for the organization should be another factor. Tony Kubek was inducted in St.Marys in 2016. Kubek was the first television analyst for the Blue Jays back in 1977. My thought is if Kubek in his time was inducted for 13 seasons, then why can’t you reward Tabler for his 30 years of service and counting?

Many of you reading may not love Buck and Pat. However, they have worked very hard over the years to hone their craft not only as broadcasters but as a team. Do they make mistakes? Sure. I truly believe when they are done broadcasting games for the Blue Jays that they will be truly missed. Look at how many people get annoyed with the broadcast teams during MLB’S YouTube games.

If you ever have the chance to attend an induction ceremony in St.Marys (When COVID is over) I hope you do. It’s a great atmosphere and it means a lot to the individuals being inducted. The great people at the Hall of Fame and Museum along with their volunteers put on a spectacular event.

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As for Buck and Pat, they will not be inducted into Cooperstown. That said, I truly hope that we get to see them inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in  St.Marys.

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