There’s no sugar-coating it, now is a brutal time to be a Blue Jays and a baseball fan. The lockout has resulted in MLB cancelling games for the first time since 1995.
Back then, several players crossed the picket line during spring training. The best of that group found themselves on Major League rosters during the truncated ’95 season and beyond.
There are quite a few of these non-union players that spent at least some time in the Blue Jays organization.
Blue Jays Replacement Players
Millar is the most well-known of the picket-crossers, a television personality and host of Intentional Talk, he’s done well to stay relevant in his post-playing career. Millar broke through with the Marlins in the late nineties and was a part of the Red Sox curse-busting World Series triumph in 2004. Kevin finished his career as a Blue Jay in 2009, hitting .223 with seven homers.
After spending the first six years of his big-league career with the Mets, Rays, and A’s, Lidle came to Toronto in 2003. The results weren’t good. Lidle led the AL in earned runs and finished with a 5.75 ERA in 192.2 innings. It says a lot about that era of baseball that he pitched almost 200 innings despite his moribund numbers.
Ligtenberg came to the Blue Jays after having enjoyed some real success early on in his career. He finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1998 while recording 30 saves for the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, he got injured and missed the next season. Ligtenberg recovered and over the next four years, Ligtenberg recorded an average ERA of 3.23 in just under 60 innings per season. When he came to Toronto, the wheels fell off. He went 1-6 with a 6.38 ERA in 2004, his lone year in blue.
There’s no sugar-coating it, now is a brutal time to be a Blue Jays fan. The lockout has resulted in MLB cancelling games for the first time since 1995.
The players previously listed came to the Jays towards the end of their careers and didn’t perform well. While Menechino fits the first part of that description, his time in Toronto marked a revival for him on the field. He joined the club in May and went on to hit nine home runs in just 236 at-bats with an OPS + of 131. Menechino played his final year with the Blue Jays in 2005.
Cups of Coffee
Eric Ludwick appeared in one game, pitched one inning, and gave up three runs in 1999. Pedro Swann had one hit (and six strikeouts) in 12 at-bats in 2002 and Jeff Tam went 0-4 with a 5.64 ERA the following year.
These players risked it all for a shot at the big leagues. By crossing the picket lines, they could never be MLBPA members or be immortalized digitally in video games. At least they wouldn’t have to live with the regret of not chasing their dreams.