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May 28, 1964 |
Park View, New Mexico
|April 12, 1986, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 22, 1995, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Earned run average||3.28|
|Career highlights and awards|
Ward went to school and made his early athletic mark in Farmington, New Mexico, a small oil and gas city, and one known for its amateur baseball programs. Ward thrived in the American Amateur Baseball Congress-sponsored baseball leagues and graduated from Farmington High School, home of the Scorpions. He was drafted out of high school in 1982. Ward also starred in the Connie Mack World Series, a baseball tournament for 18-and-under players that has been hosted in Farmington since 1965.
Since 1988, Ward has lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A hard-throwing pitcher, Ward was drafted with the ninth pick in the 1st round of the 1982 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. He is tied with Jim Kremmel (1971) for the second-highest draft pick of players hailing from New Mexico, behind shortstop Alex Bregman, who was selected with the second pick in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. He made his major league debut on April 12, 1986, but after limited success was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 6 for pitcher Doyle Alexander.
Ward became one of the Jays' most dependable middle relievers in 1988, and remained in the role through the 1992 season, when the Blue Jays won their first World Series championship. His pitching repertoire featured a live, mid-90s fastball and a hard slider.
After years of being in Tom Henke's shadow, Ward took over the closer's role in 1993. In the regular season, Ward set Toronto's single-season team record for saves with 45. He was tied with Jeff Montgomery of the Kansas City Royals for most saves in the American League. Ward was the closing pitcher for the American League in its 9-3 victory at the 1993 Major League Baseball All-Star Game; however, constant booing and demand for Mike Mussina of the host Baltimore Orioles cost Ward his save. In helping the Blue Jays repeat as World Series Champions in 1993 Ward reached the peak of his career and, unexpectedly, the last significant duty of this career.
In the 1993 World Series, Ward earned two saves over Philadelphia, in Game 1 (8-5 save, in Toronto) and in the wild Toronto 15-14 victory in Game 4 in Philadelphia, when Ward got the last four outs after Toronto scored the final six runs of the game. Ward was the winning pitcher for the decisive Game 6 in which his teammates came back from behind after he pitched in relief.
The rest of Ward's career was beset by injuries and he would never save another Major League game after 1993. After missing the entire 1994 season due to biceps tendinitis, he retired from the Toronto Blue Jays after pitching four games during the 1995 season. He finished with a 3.28 ERA and 121 saves.
Since 2014, Ward has been featured on the Blue Jays' radio broadcasts for Sportsnet 590 The Fan. He occasionally fills in for regular colour commentator Joe Siddall.
- List of Major League Baseball annual saves leaders
- List of Major League Baseball all-time saves leaders
- Kevin Hendricks (June 7, 2015). "Bregman can make NM history". Albuquerque Journal.
- Toronto Blue Jays Calendar (Page-a-Day) March 14, 2011
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Major league pitching comes to Farmington: Hometown hero Ward, Eichhorn lead clinic (Farmington Daily Times article)