In The Cards: 1993 Medicine Hat Blue Jays

By JOE McFARLAND

You would think capturing Canada’s first World Series would be a helpful shot in the arm for all of the Toronto Blue Jays’ affiliate squads heading into the 1993 season.

It was needed for the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, who struggled to a last-place finish in 1992, drawing a paltry 16,827 fans to Athletic Park over the entire season.

There was nowhere to go but up for the franchise, who had a new manager in well-traveled Omar Malave and some great expectations around their pitching after the MLB team selected highly-touted right-hander Chris Carpenter and Fort McMurray’s Joe Young in the 1993 MLB Draft.

READ MORE: In The Cards – 1994 Medicine Hat Blue Jays

While both didn’t make their Medicine Hat debuts until the following season, the Baby Jays still had some masterful pitching performances en route to a 39-34 record. Led by Mark Sievert (6-3, 5.00 ERA), Steve Sinclair (5-2, 3.33 ERA) and Brian Grant (5-4, 2.84 ERA), they finished second in the Northern Division behind the eventual champion Billings Mustangs.

However, that success didn’t amount to major improvements in the number of fans coming through the turnstiles. While the overall crowds number jumped to 25,102, the team still finished seventh in attendance in the eight-team Pioneer League.

As for the 1993 set of Fleer ProCards featuring the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, the 27-card set is perfect for collectors who store their cards in binders and nine-card plastic sleeves. The cards themselves are standard fare for the minor league sets of the day. The players and coaches are all posed on the front, while the backs are black and white with some blue hues. Some have statistics on them while others have brief career descriptions. And each card features a sponsorship from One Hour Photo in the Medicine Hat Mall.

Let’s take a closer look at the cards now and just some of the stories of the players and coaches who posed for the camera in this latest installment of In The Cards.

September 4, 1993 is a memorable day for two of the pitchers above. Jeff Leystra (middle left) and Scott Kennedy (top right) joined Michael Romano to toss a no-hitter for the Baby Jays against the Lethbridge Mounties. Romano got the start, allowing an unearned run in the second inning before shutting the door. He struck out seven batters in seven innings before turning the ball over to Kennedy, who struck out one in a perfect eighth frame. And Leystra finished out the night by striking out two more hitters in the ninth to preserve the 4-1 Jays’ win. Kennedy finished the season going 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 19 relief appearances while Leystra also posted a 3-2 record to go along with a 2.51 ERA and led the team with 11 saves.
1993 needed to be a banner year for Steve Sinclair (centre bottom). After spending most of the previous two seasons in Medicine Hat, the Victoria B.C. native was likely itching to move up the organizational depth chart sooner rather than later. He ended up leading the team with over 78 innings pitched, posting a 5-2 record with a 3.33 ERA in 15 games, including 12 starts. Sinclair finally got his wish and in 1998, finally made his big league debut in Toronto. He pitched in 45 games for the Jays and Seattle Mariners over the next two seasons, before heading back to Triple-A for a few years. He rounded out his pro career with his hometown Victoria Capitals in the ill-fated Canadian Baseball League in 2003. Sinclair is back home today, serving as the director of operations for the Victoria International Marina.
A multi-sport star out of Vanderbilt, Willy Daunic’s future had more in common with legendary Medicine Hat Blue Jays and WHL Tigers broadcaster Bob Ridley than Bo Jackson. Daunic (centre right) put up a .252 batting average with a home run and 17 RBIs in 46 games for the Baby Jays. He moved onto Low-A St. Catharines in 1994, but that is where his baseball career came to an end. As it turned out, he started moonlighting as a broadcaster in Nashville during the 1993 off-season and when his playing career came to a halt, he jumped into the broadcast booth with his alma mater. Daunic eventually moved onto hockey, where he has been the play-by-play voice of the Nashville Predators since 2014, first in radio before moving to TV alongside former goalie Chris Mason.
David Morgan wasn’t just another jock looking to make it to the big leagues. The strapping 6-foot-4, 215-pound catcher played the part as a bouncer at a bar, but he had brains to go with it, as he went to college at Harvard. After a breakout campaign with the Crimson, Morgan (top right) was taken in the 18th round of the 1993 MLB Draft by Toronto and was shipped to Medicine Hat. He later admitted it was tough to break through with eight other catchers invited to camp, and he struggled with handling the movement on the pitches he was trying to control. Morgan put up some good numbers in his rookie campaign, hitting .238 with five home runs and 34 RBIs in 62 games. He returned for another 16 contests in an injury-shortened 1994 and lasted a few more seasons in the organization, topping out at Double-A. He made a quick transition to the mortgage industry a couple of years after his baseball career came to an end in 1998.
Coming out of high school, there was a lot of hope surrounding Anthony Sanders. With both power and speed, he seemed primed to be part of the Blue Jays future after they took him in the seventh round of the 1992 MLB Draft. Sanders (centre) made his pro debut with the Baby Jays the following summer, hitting .262 with four home runs, 33 RBIs and six stolen bases. He ascended up the depth charts over the following five seasons, culminating with a three-game stint with Toronto in 1999. Sanders played in ten more big league games as a member of the Seattle Mariners over the following two seasons, spending the majority of his playing days in the minors. In 2007, he turned his attention to coaching, including a return to the Pioneer League with the Grand Junction Rockies from 2013-2015, winning manager of the year in 2014. Following the 2019 season, Sanders was named the first base coach for the Baltimore Orioles.
Omar Malave was a Toronto Blue Jays lifer. Signed as a free agent in 1980, the infielder played at virtually every level of the organization except the big league squad. After his playing career came to an end in 1989, Malave (centre right) turned his attention to coaching and was named the manager of the Blue Jays’ Gulf Coast League team in 1991. He then traveled up and down the organizational depth charts until 2015, including his one year in Medicine Hat in 1993. Malave also made his big league debut in 2010 as the first base coach under then-manager City Gaston. The native of Cumana, Venezuela also served as a coach for his home country’s entries at the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.

That will do it for this edition of In The Cards. Let us know what you think about the cards and players, or if you have any stories about them you would like to share!

We are in the process of developing an online digital archive of Alberta baseball card sets with this In The Cards series. If you have baseball cards you’d like to donate – or lend – to our cause, please email us at AlbertaDugoutStories@gmail.com with more information.

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