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Moseby returns to where his pro career started

Former Blue Jays outfielder participates in Honda Super Camp in Medicine Hat

Moseby returns to where his pro career started

MEDICINE HAT, Alberta -- Lloyd Moseby may not recognize much of present-day Medicine Hat, but 36 years after he first arrived in the city, its people still recognize him.

The former Blue Jays center fielder, who played his first professional season with the now defunct Medicine Hat Blue Jays of the Rookie-level Pioneer League, was back at his former home field of Athletic Park for a Blue Jays Honda Super Camp over the weekend.

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While Moseby was there, a parent of a child attending the baseball clinic approached him with a story about how he had seen Moseby play in Medicine Hat when he was just 6 years old.

Moseby said he was happy to chat with a lifelong fan -- even if the encounter did serve as a reminder of the many years that had passed since their first meeting.

"I said, 'Oh, thanks a lot,'" Moseby said with a laugh. "That was cool. I mean, it made me feel really old, but it was still cool."

Selected second overall by the Blue Jays in the 1978 First-Year Player Draft, Moseby spent that summer playing for Medicine Hat in its inaugural season as a Blue Jays affiliate (the team remained part of Toronto's organization through 2002 before the Blue Jays moved their Rookie-level club to Pulaski, Va.)

Moseby batted .304 with a .918 OPS through 67 games with Medicine Hat, but the team finished the season 28-40.

This weekend's Super Camps marked the first time Moseby had been back in the southeast Alberta city since his playing days there. And the 54-year-old said he barely recognized the area.

"It wasn't even close to the same place," Moseby said on Sunday while en route to the next Super Camp location in Regina, Saskatchewan. "When I was [in Medicine Hat], there weren't that many people, there wasn't anything there. Now there's a Safeway, there's a lot of new things.

"But I got a lot out of my time there, that's for sure."

Moseby, who played first base and catcher at his high school in Oakland, Calif., converted to an outfielder under the tutelage of the Medicine Hat coaching staff. The move proved to be a wise one in hindsight as Moseby went on to help form the most highly regarded Blue Jays outfield trio (along with George Bell and Jesse Barfield) in franchise history.

Bell, Moseby and Barfield manned the outfield together at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium from 1984-88, with their offensive and defensive capabilities earning all three a spot on the franchise's Top 20 list in WAR.

As Moseby recalled, the seeds of his strong center-field skills were sown in the warm Alberta sunshine.

"My best memory [from Medicine Hat] was just getting to play in the outfield for the first time," Moseby said. "It was nerve wracking to do something I'd never done before, but it was a great experience and I was happy to do it."

The Portland, Ark., native made his Major League debut on May 24, 1980, and he wore a Toronto Blue Jays uniform for 10 seasons, including a 1981 campaign in which the team went 37-69 during a strike-shortened season, and a franchise-best 99-win season in 1985 that earned Toronto the American League East crown for the first time.

Moseby leads the Blue Jays all time in stolen bases (255), is second in triples (60), third in runs scored (768), fourth in hits (1,319), fifth in total bases (2,128) and RBIs (651) and eighth in home runs (149).

That success, Moseby said, is part of the reason he continues to be so connected with the Blue Jays organization.

"That's home for me, it's really the only team I ever knew," said Moseby, who also spent two seasons with Detroit and two more with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan after his career in Toronto. "I have so many great memories, like 1985, the first time really winning something and really being a part of a winning team. ... To know that we were one of the winningest organizations in the '80s, coming from the worst team in baseball to the best team in baseball, that was a tremendous achievement what we did there."

It also helps explain why Moseby has been taking part in the Honda Super Camps for the past four years -- along with other former Blue Jays such as Bell, Barfield, Roberto Alomar, Duane Ward, Devon White, Carlos Delgado, Tony Fernandez and Cecil Fielder.

"This has been a blast being here for these camps, being around some of my ex-teammates," Moseby said. "It makes me really excited. It's like playing baseball all over again."

While Moseby said he's been impressed with the level of talent he's seen from Canadian players from all over the country, he admitted the Medicine Hat camp was a special one -- and not just because of the connection he has with the city.

"The kids out here were outstanding," he said. "Among the small towns, this might have been one of the better places we've seen as far as talent goes. The kids were listening and absorbing what we were teaching them.

"It was really fun and really neat to come to a place that I'd been before -- even if I didn't recognize it much."

Melissa Couto is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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