Jimmy Key on 4/26/97. Mandetory credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport
On April 22, 1961, James Edward Key was born. Jimmy Key was drafted in the third round of the 1982 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent his entire 15-year career with pitching in the American League East: nine seasons with the Blue Jays, four with the New York Yankees, and two with the Baltimore Orioles.
When Jimmy Key is remembered, he is probably remembered for being a Blue Jay given the amount of time he spent in Toronto, or as a Yankee, given the fact that they're the most storied franchise in the history of storied franchises. But he played a very key (Key! Get it?) role in the Orioles wire-to-wire first place season in 1997, and for that he'll always be remembered fondly by yours truly.
When Key arrived in Baltimore he endeared himself to the fans immediately as the Orioles went 9-2 in games started in April and May, and Key pitched to a 2.30 ERA. He went on to pitch 212 innings in 34 starts in 1997 and while he tailed off performance-wise in the second half, he was still a very solid piece of the rotation and a big reason they were able to become AL East champions.
Key's 1998 was a bit more forgettable, just as the 1998 Orioles were a bit more forgettable than their 1997 counterparts. He spent time in the bullpen in the second half and when the season was over, the 37-year-old retired.
In his career, Key pitched in 470 games with an ERA+ of 122 and he was on three World Series winning teams. Not a bad career at all.
Happy birthday, Jimmy!