We at the Tao of Stieb don’t wish to dispute the names that are thus far missing from the Level of Excellence (*cough cough * Jimmy Key *cough*). Instead, we propose the Alternative Level of Excellence, which will honor those who will likely never be formally enshrined. These are the former Blue Jays whose names will inevitably elicit a smile, a laugh, a knowing nod, or a prolonged groan from the true fan.
Today’s inaugural honoree: Junior Felix. Number 54 (or 47) in your programs. Number 1 in your hearts.
Felix debuted on May 3rd, 1989 as a defensive replacement for George Bell. The next day, he started as the Jays DH, hitting out of the nine hole. In the first pitch of his first at bat, he hit a home run off of the pride of Kapuskasing, Kirk McCaskill. (Try saying "Kirk McCaskill from Kapuskasing" five times fast. Yikes.)
Felix’s birthdate is listed as October 3rd, 1967, which would have made him 21 on his debut. However, it soon became an open secret that he may have been significantly older. Some suggested as much as a decade older than he claimed. (The Jays signed him as a free agent in 1985, so clearly, something was amiss with those dates. Unless they were given to signing pre-teens to contracts back then.)
Junior played 237 games with the Jays between 1989 and 1990, hitting 24 homers, stealing 31 bases and driving in 111. He played four more years for the Angels, Marlins, and Tigers, before retiring to collect his old age pension in 1994.
His greatest contribution to the cause was likely the return the Jays received when they rolled his allegedly old bones out the door in a deal at the Winter Meetings in December of 1990. Coming back to the Jays in the multiplayer deal: Devon White.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join us in welcoming to the Tao of Stieb's Alternative Level of Excellence, Junior Felix.
(BTW, if you'd like to nominate any former Jays for the Alternative Level of Excellence, hit us with them here.)