By: Bob Elliott
CINCINNATI _ He played with all the Blue Jays greats.
And the not-so-greats.
And now, Stu Pederson is Cincinnati-bound for the annual all-star game.
He won’t be playing -- his career consisted of eight games in 1985 with the Los Angeles Dodgers,
Pederson will be watching his son Joc Pederson, the Dodgers centre fielder, co-leader at the break for National League rookie of the year honors with Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant.
Father taught son about hitting the ball the other way, how to perfect his swing and patience.
In 2013, Joc was tearing it up at double-A Chattanooga, wondering why he had not been promoted.
That is a subject the father knew all about.
Joc might as well have been asking someone in the Greek parliament about bail out advice.
His father knew patience.
Acquired from the Dodgers, Stu Pederson was assigned by the Jays to the double-A Knoxville Smokies in 1988. After 45 games he was promoted to triple-A Syracuse Chiefs under Bob Bailor.
He stayed at MacArthur Park for five seasons and 479 games.
“I told Joc if you’re there (double-A) it’s for a reason, if you get called up by a bad team it’s for the wrong reason,” Stu said. “You don’t want to get called up to sit. You want to play.”
Stu never got the call, but he played with them all:
Position players who won World Series rings like Derek Bell, Pat Borders, Randy Knorr and Turner Ward.
“I was good enough to be a triple-A guy, good enough to make it, not good enough to stay,” said Stu Pederson. “I was what they call a 4-A guy.”
Pederson was speaking from, Alaska on Friday. One more game to coach with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the Alaskan summer College league, then home to Palo Alto, Calif. and then his wife Shelly were off to Ohio.
He played outfield behind the likes of pitchers who went up to sip post-season champagne: Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen, Al Leiter, Todd Stottlemyre, Mike Timlin, David Wells and Woody Williams.
Five years in one triple-A outpost is enough to run for city council in some cities.
Five years without being promoted is tough.
“They called me up one time, we played an exhibition game, then went to Chicago and I was sent back to Syracuse,” said Stu.
He played with every day Jays like Carlos Delgado, Junior Felix, Nelson Liriano, Greg Myers and Ed Sprague.
When, Stu broke in with class-A Lodi the bat boy was Ed Sprague, age 13, in 1981 and 11 years later the former bat boy was his teammate with the Chiefs before Sprague went to Toronto. And in 2012, Pederson’s other son Tyger played for coach Sprague with the University of Pacific before being drafted by the Dodgers. Besides Tyger the Pedersons have two other children: a son Champ and a daughter, Jacey.
Stu made his big-league debut Sept. 8, 1985, as the visiting New York Mets started Sid Fernandez against Orel Hershiser. Manager Tommy Lasorda asked Pederson to pinch hit against Doug Sisk leading off the bottom of the 14th trailing by a run as Mookie Wilson had homered in the top half.
“I hit a ball between first and second, Keith Hernandez went over and fielded the ball, I was thinking why wasn’t he protecting the line?” said Stu, as Hernandez fielded the ball and threw to Sisk covering for the bang-bang out at first. “With LA I had five at-bats, at that time it was a little frustrating I was thinking ‘what did they bring me up for?’ and I then I thought don’t be in such a rush.”
And he was there Sept. 1, 2014 for his son’s debut against the Washington Nationals.
Stu played with Sal Butera, Omar Malave, Vince Horsman and Marty Pevey, who coached in the Jays system.
Joc Pederson, the Dodgers rookie sensation, was born in Syracuse in 1992, his pop’s final year playing.
Born into a baseball family meant Joc had a coach as well as a dad.
“I tried to treat him like any other player,” the father said, “I never gave him preferential treatment.”
He told his son how baseball is not a sprint, but a marathon, about riding the buses, the early morning flights and being an injury away from your career ending.
“Now that he’s in the big league, the travel is better and the lights are better,” Stu said.
Stu coached at Palo Alto High and Cupertino. Then Joc joined the Nor Cal travel team. Stu told his son If you want to play at a high level “let’s see where you stand.”
Stu said a recent San Francisco Giants-Dodgers game had Nor Cal alumni Brendan Crawford, Casey McGehee and Andrew Susac were with the Giants, while Jimmy Rollins, J.P. Howell and Joc were with the Dodgers.
Nor Cal grad include Troy Tulowitzki, Brett Wallace, Joe Ross, former Blue Jays No. 1 pick Dave Cooper and Tyson Ross.
Stu played with Rob Ducey, Glenallen Hill, Greg O’Halloran, Mark Whiten, Xavier Hernandez and David Weathers.
“Guys try and tell me how good the New York Yankees were,” said Stu. “I tell them about the Jays in the late 1980s. George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield in the outfield. They were so strong Fred McGriff and Cecil Fielder SHARED DH one year.
“The Jays were a true power house.”
The 11 consecutive winning seasons were capped by winning the 1992-93 World Series.
Stu’s best friends at Syracuse were Leiter, Williams, Hill, Bell and Mark Eichhorn.
“I stay in touch with Eichhorn the most, he’s about 40 miles away and he’s coaching,” said Stu.
Fans at MacArthur used to chant “Stuuuuu” when he came to the plate. He collected his 1,000th minor-league hit at Syracuse and was a member of the 1989 International League champs, hit a walk-off grand slam to win the final game 1991, the same year Chiefs’ fans hosted a “Stu Pederson Night.”
He was elected to the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame in 2012.
And lest we neglect, he also played with Geronimo Berroa, Enrique Burgos, Sil Campusano, Mauro Gozzo, Kelly Heath, Mike Maksudian, Matt Stark, Efrain Valdez and Eddie Zosky.