* Hall of Fame 2B Robbie Alomar spoke on behalf of Jack Morris, eligible for the veteran’s committee consideration, and Larry Walker, who has five years remaining on the BBWAA ballot at the fourth annual Ontario Blue Jays banquet as RHP Shawn Hill (Georgetown), RHP Jamie Lehman (Brampton) and former coach Gary Wilson (Stoney Creek) were inducted.
By Bob Elliott
Robbie Alomar has a number of talking points as he tours the country from to Nanaimo, B.C. to Corner Brook, Newfoundland and in between.
The Hall of Famer second baseman has some more: candidates for Cooperstown.
Another Saturday night, another stop on the banquet circuit.
This time the fourth annual Ontario Blue Jays Hall of Fame banquet at Fontana Primavera in Woodbridge.
Brampton’s Jamie Lehman, who pitched six seasons in the minors and is the Jays director of Canadian scouting; Georgetown’s Shawn Hill, who is looking to pitch in 2015 his 13th year and Stoney Creek’s Gary Wilson, the original coach, were all inducted into the Ontario Blue Jays Hall.
Morris was the featured speaker with a message of what a good teammate should me and told youngsters to relish their time together.
Before taking part in a Q & A session Alomar said of Morris: “Jack’s a winner, he pitched to the score, if Jack was winning 6-0 he threw strikes, he didn’t want to walk anyone. If the game was close he’d pitch guys away. Jack loved big games (Morris made 13 starts in seven different post-season series, starting Game 1 six times.).”
Morris was named 61.5% on the Baseball Writers of America Association ballots, shy of the required 75% in 2014, his final year on the ballot.
“Jack beat us twice in the 1991 playoffs when he was with the Minnesota Twins, then pitched 10 scoreless in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series to beat Atlanta, and won 21 games for the 1992 Blue Jays,” said Alomar.
And Alomar on Walker: I don’t think Hall of Fame voters show him the respect he deserves. When I broke in when San Diego I played against Walker and he was a complete player. He doesn’t he get the recognition he should. Walker was a great right fielder, with a big arm, he stole 30 bases and people seldom even mentions him. He won two batting titles and an MVP.”
While Morris’ 15 years of eligibility are over — he awaits the veteran’s committee — Walker has five years remaining after he was named on 11.8% of the ballots his fourth year. He had a slight bump from 10.2% in 2014 but was down from 21.6% and 22.9% his first two years.
The knock on Walker from voters — some of the same voters who made him the National League MVP in 1997 — is that he put up those numbers with the Colorado Rockies.
“Yeah, he hit well at Coors Field,” Alomar said, “but he hit everywhere else too.”
Walker hit .381 with a 1.171 OPS at Coors.
He also had a .300 average or better at 14 other stadia: Safeco Field (.600, 1.100 OPS), Jacobs Field (.500, 1.333), Bank One Ballpark (.350, 1.015), Fenway Park (.333, 1.218), Tropicana Field (.333, .889), Wrigley Field (.333, 1.002), Cinergy Field (.333, .904), The KingDome (.333, .667), Fulton-County Stadium (.326, .927), Oakland Coliseum (.320, 1.309), Turner Field (.317, 1.039), PNC Park (.313, .814), County Stadium (.313, .799) and Kauffman Stadium (.300, 1.217).
“The only thing Walker didn’t accomplish was winning a World Series and that’s a team thing,” Alomar said. “I hope he gets more votes, in my own eyes he belongs. He was a clean cut guy who played with injuries and played hard. I want to have a voice for him.”
Lehman was an infielder for 2002-03 Ontario Blue Jays and coach Danny Bleiwas. Drafted in the 29th round in 2003 by a young Montreal Expos scout named Alex Anthopoulos as a pitcher. After pitching in the Expos/Washington Nationals organization before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. Lehman retired to become a scout with the Jays for Canada and Northeastern United States, selecting Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey from the Oakville Royals in the 16th round in 2010.
Hill pitched for the 1998-99 Ontario Blue Jays for coaches Bob Smythe and Wilson. Drafted in the sixth round by Expos scout
Alex Agostino in 2000 he made his debut in 2004 making 44 starts for Montreal, Washington, San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays. Hill helped Canada win gold at the 2011 Pan-Am Games in Mexico and reach the semi-final of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Wilson was the first coach of the Ontario Blue Jays from 1996-99. If Hamilton’s Gene Bartolozzi was the Godfather of elite baseball in the province, Wilson was his first offspring. Wilson’s first two teams made the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. as he coached first rounder Scott Thorman, major leaguers Pete Orr, Adam Stern and Hill as well as a number of college players.
Morris flew into Toronto from Hartford where he spoke at a coaching clinic for Jays pitching coach Pete Walker.