In honour of Canada Day yesterday, 500 Level Fan is going homegrown for this week’s edition of Blast From the Past. Checking Wikipedia tells me that a total of 15 Canadians have suited up for the Blue Jays. Though at one point or another in their careers some have been all-stars (Paul Quantrill), some have garnered MVP votes (Corey Koskie, Matt Stairs), and some have won World Series with the Jays (Rob Butler), no Canadian sticks out more than Rob Ducey.
Ducey grew up in Cambridge, and was signed by the Jays as an amateur free agent in 1984. He hit minor league pitching fairly well from 1984-1987 (.286 with 58 HR) – well enough to make his major league debut on May 1, 1987. Ducey started the game in LF, went 1/2 with an RBI and a SB, but was replaced by pinch hitter Garth Iorg in the 8th inning.
Unfortunately for Rob, being replaced was something that became common for him. For the rest of his career he was nothing more than a bit player, a bench warmer, who played sparingly. He stayed with the Blue Jays until the trade deadline of 1992, but only managed to play in 183 games (just over 30 per season) as he was constantly overlooked by Jimy Williams, and sent back and forth to Syracuse. Ducey also met the same fate on the other teams he played for in the majors. His personal high for games played came in 2000 as a member of the Phillies (112).
Rob had quite a tour of the league during his career, playing for a total of six franchises, and even made a two year stop in Japan to play for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1995 and 1996. At least he can say he was well traveled.
But forget the playing time and his statistics. The greatest thing about Ducey’s time with the Jays was when he was traded. The first time he was dealt came at the deadline in 1992. Ducey and Greg Myers were sent to the California Angels as Toronto re-acquired the great Mark Eichhorn. Eichhorn would star in the bullpen and help the Jays win back-to-back World Series. Ducey, sadly, missed out.
However, in 2000 Ducey was involved in possibly the strangest trade sequence in history. On July 26th he was traded from Philadelphia back to Toronto for a player to be named later. He suited up for five games with the Jays and hit .154. Then on August 5th Toronto acquired Mickey Morandini from Philadelphia for a player to be named later. Two days later, August 7th, the player to be named later became Rob Ducey. He was essentially traded for himself.
But Ducey is loved in this area not so much for his minimal contribution to the Toronto Blue Jays on the field, but for his love of his country. He became the first Canadian to play for both the Blue Jays and the Expos. He was a member of the 2004 Canadian Olympic baseball team in Athens that finished fourth. He was part of Canada’s coaching staff at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, a team that finished a disappointing sixth. He also served on Canada’s coaching staff at the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
So despite whatever struggles he may have had on the field, despite his bouncy and uneven career path, and despite the fact that he was let go by Alex Anthopoulos as a Blue Jay scout in 2009, Rob Ducey is saluted here today for the one thing all Jays fans can be proud of him for: his Canadian-ness.
Happy Canada Day Rob.
Rob Ducey: Career Major League Statistics
13 seasons (1987 – 1994, 1997 – 2001)
6 teams (TOR, CAL, TEX, SEA, PHI, MON)
.242 average, 31 HR, 146 RBI, 190 R, 22 SB, .726 OPS
*Blast From the Past is a feature dedicated to bringing back the memory of classic Jays from days past – the lesser known the better. If you have any suggestions please contact 500 Level Fan.