Gruber, playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, back in 1992.
Photo: Stephen Dunn (Getty Images)

Thursday night in Toronto former Blue Jays All-Star third baseman Kelly Gruber participated in a panel discussion for PitchTalks, which describes itself as “touring, interactive baseball event.” The event was coordinated around this weekend’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame festivities, an event at which Gruber was also scheduled to participate. That was before this happened:

That’s Gruber making an excruciatingly awkward, jarringly hostile entrance at PitchTalks, immediately making what seems to be some kind of pass at host Ashley Docking, then responding to her effort to direct his attention to the crowd by shouting over her and declaring her inessential to the proceedings. Docking, to her enormous credit, manages to confront his wildly disrespectful behavior without punching him in the face, which is probably what he deserved.

Is he drunk? Seems like he might be drunk! Gruber settled down from there, but in a way that was just as awkward—you can watch his entire appearance here, if you skip to about the 57:00 mark—when his answer to a direct question about the direction of the Blue Jays organization seemed an awful lot like a total bluff:

“We’ve got a long way to go. We were right there. We were right there. Transition. There’s only one constant variable we know, in life, I think that’s change. Everything changes, even me. See, I just became nice, now. Soft-spoken. You know what, it’s a long hard road to climb, very tough to get there, even harder to stay. Knowing that, we’ve got a long way to go. Bottom line.”

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By this time the event was all but unrecoverable, with Gruber sensing the awkwardness and confrontationally asking Docking “what answer” she was looking for, to which she responded “from you, nothing.” It will not shock you at all to learn that the event ended just over one minute later, and roughly 45 minutes earlier than scheduled. Here’s an explanation from PitchTalks creator Kevin Kennedy, where he mentions “inappropriate comments” Gruber apparently made to another woman prior to taking the stage.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Gruber has since been disinvited from participating in Hall of Fame festivities. Per a Canadian Press report*, Gruber feels his comments at the PitchTalks event might’ve been misinterpreted:

“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 honor my teammate and buddy Lloyd, and the interview part went south for a variety of reasons which I will detail at a later date.”

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Hard to imagine what variety of reasons could possibly explain Gruber announcing “we don’t need this girl here” like 10 seconds after he’d taken the stage, before he’d even been asked a single question.