Tuesday, June 11, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #36 TONY FERNANDEZ


RELAXED AND CONFIDENT AT THE PLATE.




PLAYED 48 GAMES FOR THE METS BEFORE RETURNING TO TORONTO.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Slick a field and clutch at bat, shortstop Tony Fernandez could be considered Mr. Blue Jay. Signed by Toronto out of the Dominican Republic by famed scout Epy Guerrero, the five-time All-Star played for seven teams, including four separate stints with the Blue Jays. In 43 postseason games covering eight series, Fernandez batted .327 and drove in 23 runs. However, an error in what would turn out to be his final postseason game proved costly.  

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Fernandez was the last batter the Orioles probably wanted to see step to the plate on Oct. 15, 1997, in the 11th inning in Game 6 of the ALCS. With the game scoreless, Armando Benitez retired the first two batters. Batting left-handed, Fernandez pulled a pitch deep into the seats. The Indians closed out the game to win 1-0 and advanced to the World Series for the second time in three years.

DEFINING SEASON

  • In '87, Fernandez finished eighth in the AL MVP voting with a career-high .322 average and 32 steals. He also drove in 67 runs and won his second consecutive Gold Glove.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Fernandez was part of one of the biggest trades in baseball history on Dec. 5, 1991. The Jays sent him and #106 Fred McGriff to the Padres for #88 Roberto Alomar and #94 Joe Carter.
  2. After Toronto won the World Series in '92, master trader Pat Gillick snagged Fernandez from the Mets for Darrin Jackson the following June, filling a hole in an otherwise solid lineup.
  3. All Fernandez did in the '93 World Series was drive in nine runs as the Jays defended their title.
  4. Hit for the cycle as a member of the Yankees on Sept. 3, 1995, against the Athletics. He became the first Yankee since Bobby Murcer in '72 to achieve the feat.
  5. While he was mostly clutch in the postseason, his error on Craig Counsell's grounder while playing second for the Indians in Game 7 of the '97 World Series did put the eventual-winning run on base for the Marlins in the 11th inning.

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