Remembering 5 Random Blue Jays: The Waind Kiss of Death
The running joke in my family is that I’m a huge athlete jinx. Look no further than my jersey collection to see why. Well this joke all began with my interaction with Josh Towers way back when.
Back in the day, I had a grey Jays hat with the mid 2000’s “Angry Bird” logo. At one point it was clean and pristine with no marks or blemishes. It is now the home of what can only be described as the autograph graveyard of most fringe Blue Jays imaginable (+ a Mike Weir signature under the bill). The autograph that started it all? Josh Towers.
I distinctly remember a young Thomas getting fired up over getting Towers’ fresh new autograph on his hat during a pre-game BP session at the Rogers Center. A week later Towers was sent down to the minors, never to be heard from again… My dad jokes that I ended Towers’ career, which was just a joke until I also ended Jesse Litsch and Brett Lawrie’s career with autographs…
The guy washed out of the league after six seasons but sometimes the brightest stars burn out the fastest. Signed by the Blue Jays as an international free agent in ’85, made his big league debut in ’89, was the 10th AL player to ever hit his first career home run on the first pitch he saw, hit an inside the park grand slam at Fenway in ’89 and was traded to the Angels for Devon White in ’90. Not to mention he can’t produce a valid birth certificate so he’s rumoured to be potentially 10 years older than his listed age.
Accardo was the return for trading Shea Hillenbrand to the Giants after Gibby and Hillenbrand got into a clubhouse dust-up in 2006. Accardo was a solid reliever for a few seasons. His best year was as Toronto’s closer in 2007 (the year BJ Ryan blew his arm out) racking up 30 saves with a 2.14 ERA. He’s largely forgettable, but a decent piece of trivia when you’re listing Blue Jays closers or recalling John Gibbons fist fights.
2010 Louisville Invitational Tournament Miken Slow Pitch Homerun Derby champion, substitute teacher and highschool baseball coach from 2010-2011, MLB debut in 2011 for the Seattle Mariners at age 27 and a 2013 MLB All Star selection as a Toronto Blue Jay in 2013. Delabar was a pretty cool story going from as a failed prospect (due to shattering his arm), to a highschool teacher, to a big league reliever who could throw in the upper 90’s. I got a ball with his autograph on it from a Jays Care foundation memorabilia mystery bag (“with a 1 in 10 chance of getting a ball signed by Jose Bautista!”) so I remember this guy somewhat fondly.
Traded for Delabar at the 2012 trade deadline was left fielder Eric Thames. The guy was a pedestrian MLB player in his first two big league seasons with Toronto and Seattle. He then went over to the KBO in 2013 and pretty much became the Babe Ruth of Korean Baseball. To give a taste of how good he was, here’s a snippet of his KBO accolades from his Wikipedia page:
“In the 2014 season, Thames batted .343 with 37 home runs, 121 RBIs, and an on-base plus slugging of 1.111. During the 2015 season, Thames became the first player in KBO history to hit for the cycle twice in one season. Thames then signed a two-year contract to remain with the Dinos. He batted .381 with 47 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 2015, becoming the first KBO player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season. On November 24, 2015, Thames won the KBO League Most Valuable Player Award. He became the third foreign-born player to win the award, joining Tyrone Woods and Danny Rios. Also, Thames won the 2015 KBO Golden Glove Award for first basemen. Thames hit .321 in the 2016 season, adding 40 home runs and 121 RBIs.”Eric Thames Wikipedia
He has since returned to the MLB where he’s a solid power hitter. He’s back to being pretty unassuming but, whatever, here’s a clip of him on Korea’s Masked Singer: