The Trenches

The Trenches were made up of seldom used bench players Derek Bell, Ed Sprague and Turner Ward. But don’t call them bench players because they didn’t ride the benches – they worked the trenches!

Sprague didn’t play much after being called up—he had only 47 at bats—but he and two other Blue Jay reserves, outfielders Turner Ward and Derek Bell, started something called the Trenches, a silly little rally routine that has enlivened the Toronto bench. They lay a towel labeled TRENCHES on the top step of the dugout, near the bat rack. Bell, the loader, pulls out a bat belonging to a Blue Jay teammate who’s about to hit. He passes the bat to Sprague, the exchanger. As the batter comes to the plate, the bat is handed to Ward, the shooter, who fires off an imaginary volley at the opposing pitcher. “If we need a big homer, like tonight,” Ward said Sunday night, “I turn the bat around and make it a bazooka.” The imaginary warfare may seem juvenile, but when one of the soldiers has to come into a game, his place is often taken by Toronto’s 41-year-old star, Dave Winfield. “He’s our commander in chief,” says Sprague. As so often happens in battle, it was the guys in the trenches who won Game 2.

Derek Bell explains the phenomenon of the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays clique known as “The Trenches.”

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has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • daperman

    If you go back one pitch to Derek Bell before the walk. It was a 2-2 count and there was a very close pitch that could have just as easly been called strike 3. Bell took the pitch to make it 3-2 and the ball 4 pitch was not close.

    There had been much speculation that the Blue Jays would not get a fair deal because they were a Canadian team but to me the 2-2 pitch to Bell was the most important pitch of the series as it led to the walk and Sprague HR. Home plate umpire Mike Reilly could have rang Bell up without any problem. maybe Ward’s bazooka worked on the umpire as well.

    Many will remember the non call in the next game where Bob Davidson missed the triple play by Kelly Gruber on Sanders. The antiCanadian uproar was upon us.

    To me it just showed that like anything else in sport once you are involved in a game your training and instincts take over. There is no time to consider who the batter or what the team is or where the team is from. You call what you see. Or what you think you see…..

  • Ian

    I love the story about The Trenches. I can’t believe I didn’t hear about it until now – really great for the bench player to contribute like that. I can totally picture Dave Winfield loading up the cannon, and Bell and Sprague launching it.