Young played baseball throughout his youth and before he knew it, was getting the call of a lifetime, “It just seems like yesterday. It was one of the greatest days of my life,” said Young, referring to a phone call from the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.
At 18-years old, and still residing in Fort McMurray, the right-handed pitcher was selected 98th overall in the 3rd Round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Young’s selection by the Blue Jays was their highest at the time for a Canadian player and the hometown boy was recognized on June 9 of that year with a “Joey Young Day” in his honour.
Young spent his first professional season split between the Medicine Hat Blue Jays of the Pioneer League and the Gulf Coast Blue Jays. Over 16 games, 14 of those as a starting pitcher, Young posted a record of 4-6 with a 3.67 ERA while striking out 68 batters.Following a 3-5 season with Medicine Hat in 1994, Young made the jump to the Class A Short Season St. Catharines Blue Jays of the New York-Pennsylvania League, where in 15 games Young went 6-5 with a 2.04 ERA. It was in 1995 that Young received the R. Howard Webster Award for team MVP as voted on by the Blue Jays.Young overpowered minor league bats in 1996, collecting 193 strikeouts, third in all of the minors, while going 10-12 in 27 starts split between the Class A Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League and the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Class A+ Florida State League.All of 1997 was spent with the AA Knoxville Smokies of the Southern League with Young finishing the season 5-4 with a 4.42 ERA over 19 games, 11 of those starts.
Young’s career as a professional baseball player came to an end in 1998 when a shoulder injury forced him to retire. Prior to his final pitch, Young went 9-9 with a 6.48 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 26 combined games between Hagerstown, Dunedin and Knoxville.
He’s career minor league line reads: 37-41 with a 4.50 ERA is 118 games, including 106 starts with four complete games. In his 556.1 innings, Young struck out 571 batters compared to walking 310.
Young cracked the Toronto Blue Jays MLB roster in 1996/1997 and says he was extremely close to making the team.
This is not the first time Young is getting a call to the hall, as in 1992 he and his teammates from the 1991 Canadian National Youth Team were enshrined in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for winning the 1991 World Youth Baseball Championship. This victory remains the only gold medal Canada has won in an international baseball competition.
Young, 36, resides in St. Paul, Alberta with this wife Leanne, daughter Milana and son Kaysen.
On his induction into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, Young said, “What an absolute honour it is. It’s something that when you’re growing up you don’t think of things like this happening, but when they do it’s something you look back on and you’re pretty proud of your accomplishments.”
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