Notes: Zaun recalls calling his shot
Toronto catcher thrilled fans at Hall of Fame Game in '99
PHILADELPHIA -- Gregg Zaun won't be on the bus when the Blue Jays pull into Cooperstown, N.Y., on Monday. In many ways, the catcher is upset that an injury is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame Game. Then again, Zaun is relieved he won't have to try to repeat the theatrics he displayed during the annual contest eight years ago.
On July 26, 1999, Zaun and the Texas Rangers took on the Kansas City Royals at Doubleday Field during induction weekend. Shortly before game time, Zaun learned that Juan Gonzalez wasn't going to be playing in right field, and the catcher offered to help out in the outfield.
When the time came for Zaun to take his place in right, he sprinted to his position "like Sammy Sosa used to do at Wrigley," recalled the 36-year-old catcher, sitting inside the dugout at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon.
"The people who were in the right-field bleachers were reaching over the fence," Zaun said. "So I sprinted out there and took a sharp left turn and was just high-fiving everybody as I went down. They were loving it."
The fans inside the quaint ballpark, which has a capacity of 9,000, entertained Zaun with various chants while he manned right field. The crowd begged a near-impossible favor of him when he stepped into the batter's box in the fifth inning, though.
"I'm having a blast with the fans and I'm getting all amped up," Zaun said. "I go up to the plate, Jeff Austin was pitching, and I take the first pitch, because right when I get up there, you could start to hear it kind of grow: 'Call your shot! Call your shot!'"
Zaun stepped out of the box to think it over, and he decided to do his best Babe Ruth impression. Legend has it that the famous Yankees slugger pointed to the bleachers before homering at Wrigley Field during the 1932 World Series in Chicago. Zaun -- with 63 homers over 13 seasons -- isn't exactly the Babe, but that didn't stop him from playing to the crowd.
"Everybody gets together and they're all screaming -- the whole ballpark," Zaun recalled. "So I stepped out, I pulled my shirtsleeve back and I pointed to right field. I kind of started giggling, and I looked at the pitcher and he wasn't smiling.
"I stepped back in the box and he throws me a fastball middle-away, and I hit a home run to right field over a house. The place goes absolutely insane -- absolutely insane. I touch home plate and they started chanted, 'MVP! MVP!'"
Thanks to a broken right thumb, which Zaun suffered on April 24 in Boston, Zaun won't be making the trip to the Hall of Fame this year. Instead, he's traveling to Baltimore on Monday to visit the specialist who performed his hand surgery. That's fine by Zaun.
"In some ways, I'm relieved I don't have to be there," Zaun said. "Because, one, I didn't want to have to disappoint people by not trying to do it again. The other thing was, I want to retire that act 1-for-1."
Monday's plan: Toronto manager John Gibbons said Sunday that the most of the Blue Jays' regulars would likely get at least one at-bat and play a few innings during the Hall of Fame Game against Baltimore.
Third baseman Troy Glaus will get the day off, and second baseman Aaron Hill, who has played in all 42 games, may also sit. Filling in the gaps will be a host of Toronto's Triple-A players, who will be making the drive to Cooperstown from Syracuse, N.Y., for the 2 p.m. ET Hall of Fame Game.
Gibbons added that right-hander Tomo Ohka may also get the nod to start at Doubleday Field if he's not used out of the bullpen on Sunday. Ohka is also slated to rejoin Toronto's rotation for Saturday's start against the Twins in Minnesota.
"Once you get there and realize where you are," Zaun said, "you kind of get caught up in the moment and the charm of the ballpark. Your irritation about losing a day off is quickly transformed. It's kind of like you go back to those wonder years when you first started playing. It's like, 'Wow, this is fun.'"
Making history: On Saturday, Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum held the Phillies hitless for the first four innings. Combined with his previous outing, Marcum had strung together 10 consecutive no-hit innings. That tied a club record shared by Dave Stieb (1990) and David Cone (1995).
"That's something I'll take," said Marcum, when told he matched a team record. "Dave Stieb and Cone, those guys were unbelievable pitchers. Stieb is probably one of the best pitchers in Blue Jays history."
Did you know? Entering Sunday, Toronto's bullpen had allowed just one earned run in its last 23 1/3 innings over the past eight games, posting a 0.39 ERA in the process.
Quotable: "I must have met 100,000 people that claim they were there for that." -- Zaun, on his called shot in the '99 Hall of Fame Game
Coming up: Toronto right-hander A.J. Burnett (4-3, 3.99 ERA) will take the mound in the opener of a three-game set against the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday in Baltimore. The O's will counter with righty Daniel Cabrera (3-4, 4.27 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.