Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Inaugurals: Alan Ashby

The truth is, when I think of Alan Ashby, I think of the Houston Astros. Not because that's where he spent most of his career, but because one of my first memories of owning a baseball card is his 1988 Topps card. I no longer own that card, but seeing an image of the card instantly brings memories streaming back of a stack of not more than 50 cards securely grouped with just about the fattest rubber band available. Ah, the good ol' days.

It wouldn't be until many years later that I realized Alan Ashby played for the Blue Jays and was, in fact, part of a distinct group known as The Inaugurals. That's right, folks, finally, another installment of the series!

And it wouldn't be until 10 minutes ago that I realized Alan Ashby started his major league career with the Cleveland Indians. That's right. After four years in the minors, Ashby debuted with the Indians on July 3, 1973. In that bout, he entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth and caught a scoreless inning. Alan would start the next day and collect his first major league hit in his first a bat.

Ashby remained with the Indians through the 1976 season. In 1977, he was with Toronto, appearing in 124 games. Offensively, he hit .210 with 2 HRs and 29 RBI. In 1978, Alan split catching duties with Rick Cerone, and ended appearing in only 81 games. Despite the reduced playing time, Ashby matched his RBI total of 1977 while bumping his BA to .261 and his HR count to 9. That off-season (November 27th, 1978 to be exact), his playing days with Toronto were officially numbered as he was traded to the Astros for Joe Cannon, Pedro Hernandez and Mark Lemongello (total aside here, but if you want some interesting reading, search Google for Mark Lemongello).

Mr. Ashby would go on to play 10 seasons with Houston before retiring from baseball. In 2012 he was selected as the starting catcher of the Astros' all time 25-man roster (2012 marked their 50th anniversary as a franchise).

In his post-playing days, Ashby did a little bit of managing various minor league teams, and even held a spot as the bullpen coach with the Astros in 1997. In 1998 he started doing colour commentary in Houston. In 2007 he joined Rogers Communication to do colour commentary and play-by-play for Blue Jays broadcasts. In this bloggers humble opinion, Alan Ashby is among the great Blue Jays play-by-play guys. Unfortunately, he resigned his position in January of 2013 to return to Houston. Clearly he sees himself as much an Astro as I do ;)

Thanks for reading.

Richard.

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