Image courtesy of LFPress.comIt's not very often you get the chance to see one Blue Jays legend in the flesh, let alone two.
Such was the case earlier today as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys honoured one of the greatest second baseman of our time in Roberto Alomar, and one of the most unheralded relief pitchers of his era, Paul Quantrill.
Today we celebrated the accomplishments of Roberto Alomar and Paul Quantrill as professional ball players. Yet to them, all those accomplishments and statistics seemed secondary to the friendships they had paved along the way to success.
Paul Quantrill's Acceptance Speech
In his acceptance speech, Quantrill was extremely grateful to his high school baseball coach Larry Cockcroft, as well as his wife Alyson Quantrill.
No other Canadian in the major leagues past or present has ever pitched more innings than Paul Quantrill, which is an incredible feat in itself - let alone all the other accolades to his name.
Oddly enough, when asked about his career highlights, Quantrill reflected on the people who helped him get to where he was rather than what he accomplished on the field.
"Very few of my memories are actually from the diamond. My memories are of the relationships I've formed and the wonderful people I've met.Interview with Paul Quantrill
All I did was play the sport that I loved since I was this big ... and the day I signed professionally, it was quite clear that this was my profession and I would treat it as such.
But once I crossed those lines, I was playing a kids game again. And there's nobody who ever played the game and enjoyed it more than I."
I was also very fortune to get to ask Paul Quantrill a few questions before he left for the induction ceremony. Take a listen to hear him speak about some of the Canadians currently playing in the majors, as well as what it felt like to represent his country in the big leagues.
In many ways, Paul Quantrill reminded me of another Canadian to play for the Blue Jays: Scott Richmond. Quantrill was extremely humble and spoke very highly of the strides that baseball has made within our country.
Roberto Alomar's Acceptance Speech
To begin his acceptance speech, Roberto Alomar thought back to the morning of December 5th, 1990 when he received the call that he'd been traded from the San Diego Padres to the Toronto Blue Jays.
He asked his father for advice and Alomar's father said he was going to play for one of the best managers in the game, Cito Gaston.
Along with his former coach, Roberto Alomar spoke very highly of his teammates from the Toronto Blue Jays and relayed an important message which rings true today:
"When I came to Toronto, I played with a great bunch of guys. And to win championships, you have to win together and you have to lose together."Since Alomar's retirement, there was been talk of him returning to the Toronto Blue Jays in some sort of coaching capacity. As he looked to his right over to Paul Beeston sitting on a picnic table, Alomar said:
"Hopefully one day, the Blue Jays can give me a job!"Then the crowd erupted into a roar of applause, which signalled their approval that hopefully one day Roberto Alomar will wear a manager's cap or be part of the coaching staff of the Toronto Blue Jays.
I for one would love to see him back in the dugout as a coach and lhelping the Toronto Blue Jays get back to another World Series Championship.
And I can't think of anyone better to lead them there than the best second baseman in franchise history, Roberto Alomar.