Aside from his humorous and memorable name, former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Homer Bush enjoyed a fine year in the sun in 1999.
It was important for him to get his Jays tenure off to a quick start as he was one of the pieces coming back in the Roger Clemens trade the previous offseason. Toronto also got starting pitcher David “Boomer” Wells and reliever Graeme Lloyd.
Clemens was coming off back-to-back AL CY Young Awards and wasn’t a happy camper so getting anything close to equal value in a trade would be a tough task.
At the very least, Bush and company would need to get off to a good start, and that’s exactly what they did.
Bush collected three hits in his second game as a Jay and recorded multi-hit games in 10 of his first 21 games overall and had a .354 batting average (28-79) by June 2nd. He’d cool off during the rest of that month (20-89, .225, .567 OPS) although he did hit his first home run as a member of the Blue Jays on June 21st.
There would be a Bush fire for the rest of the season as Homer went 107-317 (.338) with 16 doubles, 4 homers, and 31 RBI from July 1st onwards. His numbers for the season eclipsed anything Bush had come close to accomplishing, or ever would.
He hit .320, with 26 doubles, 32 stolen bases, five home runs, and 55 RBI in 128 games played, establishing career bests that wouldn’t be approached again. It’s the only time he played in more than 80 games, collected 100 hits, or scored at least 40 runs.
Homer stole 32 bases in 40 attempts, were good for 10th in the AL that year and second on the team to Shannon Stewart’s 37, and achieved 3.3 WAR, which bests his career mark of 3.0. He was solid in the field too, Bush’s .984 fielding percentage as a second baseman was fourth in the league.
His first-year performance with the Jays helped make the Clemens trade looks palatable initially. In 1999, Bush, Wells and Lloyd combined for 7.3 WAR while Clemens struggled in his first year in the Bronx, with a 4.60 ERA and 2.8 WAR.
Clemens went on to win another Cy Young award and a pair of World Series championships but at least the return he brought back performed well initially.
Bush would struggle with hip injuries and hit just .215 in 2000 before rebounding to hit .306 with 13 steals in a part-time role in 2001. He struggled out of the gate in 2002 and was released that May before being picked up by the Marlins. Recurring hip ailments forced Bush to retire in 2005.