Bruce Walton, BEd in physical education ’86 Mānoa
Career: Major League bullpen coach, Toronto Blue Jays
Hometown: Bakersfield, Calif.
Family: Married with twin girls
Hobbies: Fishing and cooking
UH memories: “It was beautiful and a very relaxing atmosphere. You made friends with a lot of different types of people. Their passion for baseball was so great.”
Honors: All-American pitcher as a freshman playing for the Rainbows in college. Tied for second in the Pacific Coast League for his 20 saves (with Tacoma in 1991) in the pros.
Drafted by the Oakland A’s in 1985, pitcher Bruce Walton made his Major League debut in Yankee Stadium in 1991. Going from the bullpen onto that field “was just a tremendous feeling,” he recalls. “There were goose bumps everywhere. It is something that is hard to explain.”
He later pitched in the National League for the Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies as he made 27 appearances during four years in “the show.”
But the transition to coaching brought an epiphany. “You had to worry about other people. As a pitcher you just worry about yourself,” he explains, standing in the Toronto clubhouse before a game in Washington against the Nationals earlier this season.
Walton was pitching coach for Medicine Hat, a Toronto minor league team in 1996. Promoted to pitching instructor for the entire minor league system two years later, he was responsible for 100 other pitchers. He was named the Toronto bullpen coach in 2002.
His job in the bullpen is “to pass the bantam,” says Walton—in other words, prepare Toronto relief pitchers for when they are called into a game. In Philadelphia on June 18, the Blue Jays used eight different pitchers in a 9-inning win over the Phillies. The next day the Jays used seven pitchers in an 11-inning loss at Washington.
“Every game is different. Every game is exciting,” he says. “It is an opportunity for me to make those adjustments.”