Toronto Blue Jays backstop Russell Martin was at the helm yesterday attempting to channel his inner George Gibson in the final game of the 2018 season.
In case you are not a baseball historian, George Gibson is the last Canadian to occupy a full-time managerial role when he managed the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. The London, Ontario native also wore the tools of ignorance before hanging up the spikes to pursue a managing career.
Gibson like current manager John Gibbons also had two managerial stints with the Pirates ranging from 1920-22 and then again in 1932-34.
Unfortunately for Martin, the Blue Jays fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-4 in the 162nd game of the campaign. There were some interesting elements to the game and it was obvious Martin had put some preparation into the contest.
Martin went with a lineup that saw Kevin Pillar batting leadoff, the interim skipper addressed the media before the game and explained that he put Pillar in the top spot as the outfielder was chasing his 40th double of the season. Martin stated if Pillar achieved his goal, he would then be subbed for Jonathan Davis. Pillar would, in fact, notch his milestone double and be replaced by Davis. Just like the skipper drew it up.
Randal Grichuk and rookie Billy McKinney followed Pillar in the order, it was only the seventh time this season that Grichuk has occupied the number two spot and the first time for McKinney batting third.
There were not many plays during the game that Martin put his fingerprint on however it did appear that the catcher was enjoying his debut in the dugout. Manager John Gibbons was nowhere to be found during the game and literally handed all responsibilities to Martin and his coaching staff.
There has been lots of talk in recent days that Martin may be considered for the vacant manager’s role but that does not seem to be a realistic idea. Martin may one-day manage in the majors but it will not be in 2019.
Regardless, somewhere in baseball heaven, George Gibson was smiling down on his fellow Canadian.