Former Toronto Blue Jays greats Kelly Gruber, left, and Tony Fernandez sign autographs and meet fans on Friday, June 5, 2009 during 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Blue Jays playing at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame removed former Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber from its induction week festivities Friday after his actions during a “Pitch Talks” panel discussion a day earlier. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Former Blue Jay allegedly drunk and inappropriate on air

Hall of Fame removes Gruber from weekend events due to “inappropriate behaviour”

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame removed former Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber from its induction weekend festivities Friday after his actions during a ”Pitch Talks” panel discussion a day earlier.

Gruber made a brief, awkward appearance on stage at the Homestand Sports event Thursday night with host Ashley Docking and Rogers Sportsnet broadcaster Kevin Barker in Toronto. In a joint statement, Pitch Talks and the Hall said the proceedings at the downtown Rec Room venue were stopped 45 minutes early due to Gruber’s “unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour.”

“Basically what happened was by the time he got on stage he appeared to be inebriated,” said Homestand Sports founder Kevin Kennedy. “He was just acting sort of obnoxious, kind of erratic, he was confrontational with our host, Ashley, and quite quickly I knew that this wasn’t going in the right direction.”

RELATED: Blue Jays baseball games in Tagalog language coming to OMNI Television

Gruber was one of several former Blue Jays tabbed to participate in various Hall events in the leadup to Saturday’s ceremony in St. Marys, Ont., where former big-league stars Pedro Martinez and Lloyd Moseby will be inducted with baseball historian William Humber.

Gruber’s representative, Don Graham, emailed a statement from the former player to The Canadian Press on Friday evening.

“There’s two sides to every story and I would love to tell mine,” Gruber said. “Maybe what I said was taken the wrong way. My intention for being there was to honour my teammate and buddy Lloyd, and the interview part went south for a variety of reasons which I will detail at a later date.”

On Thursday night, Gruber joined Docking and Barker on stage for what spectators thought would be a breezy, interactive chat about baseball as part of a Hall fundraiser. Instead, things turned uncomfortable shortly after Gruber was introduced.

The former player picked up a microphone from his chair and pointed across the stage at Docking.

“Hey, we don’t really need this girl here, right?’ he said, to groans from the crowd.

Docking, who kept her cool throughout, had a quick reply.

“Wow, respect at an all-time high I see,” she said.

“Yeah, well I’m not vying for a job,” Gruber replied.

“Oh you’re in a pleasant mood today, Kelly,” Docking said. “Hi, nice to meet you.”

Gruber later said he was kidding around, and that he could take any ribbing that might come his way. He then turned his attention to Barker, seated on a stool beside him.

“You my friend, real quick, you replaced Zaunnie?” Gruber asked, referring to Gregg Zaun, who was fired as a baseball analyst last year after multiple female Sportsnet employees complained about his inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

“Who’s that?” Barker said.

“OK, we’ve got to work on the wardrobe because it’s big shoes to fill,” Gruber replied.

Moments later, Kennedy, who was by the soundboard area at the time, gestured at Docking to stop the event.

“It was erratic,” Kennedy said. “It was kind of an unstable situation in my mind.”

Venue staff made sure Gruber left the building shortly thereafter, Kennedy added.

“It is our firm belief that no one should be made to feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or should endure forms of harassment whether it be in the workplace, at home, or on the street,” Pitch Talks and the Hall said in their statement. ”The Homestand team, including talent and crew, is a family with a shared love for sports. We look out for each other, and we have a zero tolerance policy for hatred and bullying, including sexism and harassment of any kind.

“This event was meant to honour the Hall of Fame inductees for 2018, and to raise money for a good cause. Not only was Kelly Gruber’s behaviour inappropriate, it defies the spirit of this special night as well as the entire weekend of slated programming for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Hall organizers also hold a celebrity golf tournament, banquet, autograph sessions and concerts as part of the weekend festivities.

RELATED: B.C. lefty James Paxton no-hits Blue Jays in 5-0 Mariners win

“These events are for the fans, it gives them a chance to interact with some of their favourite past players, sports media personalities, and other industry professionals,” Kennedy said. “We expect all of our guests and speakers to approach these events with a level of professionalism, maturity, and above all else, human decency.

“Anyone who cannot adhere to these basic standards has no place at any of the Homestand Talks.”

Gruber, 56, made his big-league debut with the Blue Jays in 1984.

He won a World Series with Toronto in 1992 and closed out his career with an 18-game stint with the California Angels the following year.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Red Deer-based Home of Hope to host ‘Heroes’ Charity Gala

International charity has missions in several African nations

UPDATE: 18-year-old Rimbey teen dies in collision

A portion of Highway 53 west of Rimbey is down to one lane while crews investigate

WATCH: 2010 Olympic architect John Furlong inspires Red Deerians at Chamber event

Furlong suggests Red Deer should get involved with Calgary’s 2026 Olympic bid

Red Deer RCMP recent arrests include stolen vehicles, break and enters and drug charges

RCMP continue their focus on repeat offenders as part of the Pinpoint crime reduction strategy

Red Deer RCMP investigate armed convenience store robbery

Suspect fled on foot with undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for missing youth

Police say 12-year-old Treston Minde left his residence on his bike Sept. 17 and hasn’t returned home

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

Most Read