LaTroy Hawkins creates an all-star team of his best teammates
Intro by Bob Elliott, Story by LaTroy Hawkins
What do Doyle Alexander, Tom Henke, Mike Timlin, Duane Ward and LaTroy Hawkins have in common?
All five threw the final pitch as the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the American League East title.
Alexander popped up Ron Hassey to left as George Bell sank to his knees to conclude a 5-1 win over the New York Yankees in Game 161 of the 1985 season at Exhibition Stadium.
Henke struck out Larry Sheets for a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in 1989 at the SkyDome.
Timlin allowed a run in the top of the ninth on a single to California Angels Ruben Amaro in 1991 at the SkyDome, but became the winner when Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter knocked in runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Ward popped up Dan Gladden, the final out in a 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles at SkyDome in 1992.
The next year Ward retired Kevin Reimer on a double play ball for a 2-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium to wrap up the 1993 division.
And on a Wednesday night in Maryland, Hawkins struck out Ryan Flaherty for the 27th and final out in the Jays 15-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Jays were Hawkins’ 11th team he has played with during his 21-year career.
That’s a lot of cities, a lot of teammates.
We asked him to select his all-time teammate team ...
By: LaTroy Hawkins
This wasn’t an easy assignment.
I’d only been in the Blue Jays clubhouse a few days when Bob asked me to pick my all-time team of teammates.
I didn’t know him but two guys I respect and have known for years -- Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com -- thought it was a good idea. I wanted to get it done before heading to South Africa on vacation.
I’m writing a Sports Blog so thought this would be a fit. So far I have interviewed my former Minnesota Twins teammate Torii Hunter, plus two of my new teammates Roberto Osuna and Josh Donaldson ... check it out (latroyhawkins.sportsblog.com).
Picking my all-time team wasn’t easy, after all this is my 21st year, I played with some players, Hall of Famers, Cy Young award, rookie of the year winners, all-stars, good guys and guys ... 703 in all.
When I was in Arlington, Tex. on an off day I printed off the rosters with the Minnesota Twins and started there.
The Twins were my first organization and I broke in April 29, 1995.
After the Twins I went to the Chicago Cubs for two seasons, then was traded to the San Francisco Giants and the Baltimore Orioles. In 2007 I signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies, then signed with the New York Yankees and was traded to the Houston Astros.
Next, I signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a free agent, then came a trip to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the New York Mets and the Rockies again.
We were in Chicago when the Jays pulled off the trade for Troy Tulowitzki and myself on July 28.
Elliott said he’d done it once before with Mark DeRosa ... I think he thought my team was much better than DeRosa’s. What do you think?
I was only in Toronto for only the final two months of the season, so it’s kind of tough to evaluate my new teammates and where they fit compared to other guys.
I’m from Gary, Ind. perhaps you heard of the town in the musical The Music Man. Watching my new teammates make sweet music has been a blast.
So here’s my team ... the Hawkins Trojans.
1. Greg Maddux
The Professor. His control was so good he could knock a gnat off a dog’s butt and not even break a sweat. He won 16 games when I was with the Cubs in 2004.
2. Brad Radke
He wasn’t anything special, just a guy who did his job. What a fierce competitor. We used to call him Big Brad Radke with the Twins. I saw him pitch in some tough spots and never once saw him get rattled.
3. Johan Santana
He came over to the Twins in 2000 from the Marlins as a Rule V guy. He was a special breed. The second year he didn’t make the Twins rotation. But he had something inside, the drive to be the best and in 2004 he won the Cy Young award.
4. David Price
He’s the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. He competes at a high level.
5. Bob Tewksbury
Every day he was my catch partner in 1998. I learned more from him about pitching than in all my years. He taught me about touch and feel, thinking about the games, how to watch the game. Watching him pitch was like watching a surgeon.
Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez
He was absolutely amazing behind the plate. A lot of catchers have some flaws, I played with him at the end of his career when we were both with the Astros and he didn’t have too many flaws then.
A great teammate and an unbelievable athlete. I was there in 2007 when he had his coming-out party as a player and a teammate. The Rockies went to the World Series ... we had him dancing.
He was a hard-nosed player who would take his own mother out with a slide at second if she was trying to turn a double play.
I watched him the past two years on a daily basis and he’s the best defensive third baseman I’ve seen over that period of time. He has the arm and the glove working.
Played against him in the minors and early on when he got to the big leagues. Damn he was a good shortstop. His numbers speak for themselves.
Just a great hitter. He was so smart. Just the ultimate ball player. Not an easy day when you had to pitch against him. He’s see one or two strikes a game and he still set the home run record.
He was my generation’s Twins mentor. You know Kirby never, ever once met a stranger -- he treated everyone, people he had just met, as if they were life-long friends. A Hall of Famer.
My brother from another mother. He was the ultimate teammate.
He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever been around. His baseball IQ is off the charts. He saw things that were going to happen -- before they happened. He’s a Hall of Famer.
His rookie year in 2012 ... man, I have not seen anything like that up close. Nothing since Alex Rodriguez’s rookie year. Trout is one of the best ever to play the game and I got to see him up close and personal.
The ultimate pro. I’m glad to have him on my bench. There wouldn’t be a team without him.
He was the first catcher I ever had to tell me “follow my lead.” And when I struggled he said “it’s not working now, but it will.” He was right.
He was a 52nd round draft choice and when all was said and done he could play all the infield and outfield positions and wasn’t a liability at any of them.
Just an awesome pitcher, everything about him was awesome.
One heck of competitor. One of the toughest guys I ever played with. I played with him in 2012 and you’d have thought we were teammates for 20 years.
My buddy. My brother from another mother. No one worked hard than he did. He led by example.
He was always better than advertised and an even better individual. He is a genuine person too.
He was one of my favorite teammates, a super vet, with a lot to offer.
He packed his lunch every day and went to work, pitched and went home. Good temperament.
He is legendary. Another one of my former catch partners. He offered to teach me his cutter and I told him get away from me with that. Believe m,e I was not throwing that pitch.
TK is the epitome of a baseball guy. His best qualities are character, competitiveness and perseverance. He’s a straight-to-the-point type guy.
Dusty Baker, bench coach
My baseball dad. He’s a good man, a great manager and a better human being.
Dave Clark, first base
He took over managing after Cecil Cooper got fired from Houston, a real good baseball man.
Walt Weiss, third base
He’s as intense managing the Rockies as he was as a player.
LaTroy Hawkins, pitching coach
I’ll stay in the game -- and think I can add some things to the mix. Rick Anderson helped me a lot when I was with the Twins.
Mark Buehrle, bullpen coach
Anyone who has been around for 15 years, has pitched 200 innings every year and has never been on the disabled list ... well a pitcher ought to be able to learn something from a guy like that.
The Hawkins Trojans
1. 2B Chuck Knoblauch
2. CF Kirby Puckett
3. SS Alex Rodriguez
4. LF Barry Bonds
5. DH Paul Molitor
6. 1B Todd Helton
7. RF Torii Hunter
8. C Ivan Rodriguez
9. 3B Nolan Arenado
RHP Greg Maddux
New Jersey GoodFellas
(Selected by Mark DeRosa)
1. 2B Michael Young
2. LF Carlos Beltran
3. 1B Albert Pujols
4. RF Jose Bautista
5. 3B Chipper Jones
6. DH Gary Sheffield
7. CF Andruw Jones
8. C Buster Posey
9, SS Jose Reyes
RHP Greg Maddux