The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993 Part 1 Of A 7 Part Series
Note from Chuck Booth: I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history. 2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Teams Payroll going into 2013 and 5.The Ball Park that they play in. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.) Be sure to check my author page with a list of all of my archived articles section here.
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
In sifting through 35 years of history with the Toronto Blue Jays as a franchise, it is sad that since 1994, only Pittsburgh, Toronto and Kansas City have not made a playoff appearance in the Major Leagues. They have been battling the Red Sox and Yankees powerhouse clubs since the 1994 player strike/1995 Lock-out. This baseball interruption of play was also a deciding factor on the Montreal Expos losing their franchise, however one could say that this has had a profound effect on the other only team North of The Border. The Jays were a model franchise all the way through the 80’s. From 1983-1993, the team carried out 11 straight winning seasons, 5 Pennants and back to back World Series Wins in 1992 and 1993.
Pat Gillick had been with the baseball club from the get go, and after finishing in dead-last for the first 5 years of existence, the Jays rode the backs of several budding stars that were drafted by the man. From the early pitching stars of Jim Clancy and Dave Stieb, to the young outfield that flourished as a core for years in: Lloyd Moseby, George Bell and Jesse Barfield, the team showed that drafting and trading for young players was the way to build an organization. It took until 1985 for the teams first Pennant, barely edging the Yankees by 2 games for the AL East. Playoff disappointment followed from 1985-1991. The team soon would find the promised land as the top team in 1992 and 1993.
Franchise History Part 2 1994-2012: https://mlbreports.com/2012/11/28/jay/
For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here:
For Part 7 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll: A Readers Thoughts, Click Here:
Looking back now, it is tough to imagine that the “SkyDome” used to be a state of the art facility, that the team was the 1st franchise to draw 4 Million Fans. It was the Toronto Blue Jays that led the league in baseball salary and not the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays used to attract several Free Agent Hall Of Fame Players such as Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and Rickey Henderson and other A-list talent from the likes of: David Cone, Dave Stewart and Jack Morris. The team was dominant and young, so it all should have culminated in more success.
This team said good-bye in the 1990’s to: Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, Devon White, John Olerud and skipper Cito Gaston. (Of course Cito would return in the 2000’s.) There have been several attempts to rebuild the team back to prominence. A modicum of success has only been returned. The team has still held premier talent in the Major Leagues from Roger Clemens, David Wells, Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, Roy Halladay and now have the best HR hitter in the game in Jose Bautista. Heading into 2013, the team looks to cultivate their young collection of talent to get back to the promise land. We will get into all of that. Before we go forward, lets take a look back.
The Early Days at Exhibition Stadium 1977-1983
The city of Toronto was awarded an American League Franchise at the same time as the city of Seattle was. The teams were able to draft 30 players each in the Expansion Draft of 1976. In what was clearly a win for the Jays as Jim Clancy, Ernie Whitt, Garth Iorg and Otto Velez made significant contributions for Toronto, while the Mariners only received a decent little career from Rupert Jones. Another guy the Jays drafted in this draft (but traded) was Pete Vuckovich, who later led the American League in Win Pctg in 1981 and 1982. He of course went onto also play the villain “Clu Haywood” in the movie Major League. Also another side note, was that Dave Collins was drafted by the Mariners and then would also play for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1983 and 1984. Collins actually led the American League in 1984 with 15 Triples and was amongst the league leaders in 1984 with 60 SB.
In the teams first game, in front of over 44,000 fans at Exhibition Stadium in a snow blizzard, the club was carried on the back of Doug Ault, who homered twice and doubled in a run en route to a 8-5 Opening Day win. The Blue Jays would not fare that great for the rest of the season finishing up 54-107. Amongst the good things that Pat Gillick did, were trading for Ron Fairly and Roy Howell while drafting Jesse Barfield, amongst some bad luck, Gillick also had a deal negotiated to trade for Yankees young Lefty Ron Guidry, however the ownership vetoed the deal down. The 4 starting pitchers in the inaugural year, had at least 13 losses each. That season also saw the debut of long time franchise pitcher Jim Clancy.
1978 and 1979 were not much better for the young club as they posted their 2nd and 3rd straight 100 loss seasons. This prompted for the clubs 1st Manager (Roy Hartsfield) to be shown the door. 1978 saw the debut of 1B Willie Upshaw. The team also traded for John Mayberry SR, who went onto hit 22 HRs to lead the team. The Jays also re-acquired Rico Carty from the Indians. The previous year, they had traded him for Rick Cerone. Carty hit 20 HRs that year and would end up playing with the franchise 4 different times. In 1977, the team selected Jesse Barfield in the 9th round of the Amateur Draft In 1978 the team drafted Lloyd Moseby with the 2nd overall pick, and they drafted Dave Stieb in the 5th round. 1979 was a poor draft year for the Blue Jays, but 21 Year Old Dave Stieb would prove to the be steal of the 1978 draft class. Stieb made it all the way to the Majors in 1979 and posted the 1st .500 record as a Blue Jays starter going 8-8. The team also had their 1st hardware when Alfredo Griffin won the Rookie of the Year Award.
In 1980 and 1981, the club was led by Bobby Mattick and finished 7th out of 7th teams both years and for the fifth time consecutively in as many seasons. Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy were becoming innings eaters and showing great signs of progressing. John Mayberry Sr. hit 30 HRS for the 1980 club. Lloyd Moseby also made his debut in 1980. In a strike shortened 1981 year, the Jays finished 11th of 14 AL teams for attendance and the club finished under .500 for the 5th straight year. Before the 1982 season, Bobby Mattick was let go in favor of Bobby Cox . George Bell (who was a rule 5 Draft Steal from Gillick) made his debut, along with Jesse Barfield and Ernie Whitt. Gillick continued his tough luck drafting in 1980 and 1981, by only ever seeing the ‘Late’ John Cerutti (RIP) make the Majors with a fruitful career. The teams offense was the main culprit for all of the losing. Only John Mayberry Sr was cutting the slack.
In 1982, with Bobby Cox at the helm, the team started to resemble a contender, even though the fans still did not come back from the 1981 strike. A 78-84 season was met with optimism by the emergence of 2B Damaso Garcia hitting a team best .310 and winning the Silver Slugger for American League Shortstops. Willie Upshaw knocked 21 HRs and drove in 75 RBI and Jesse Barfield hit 18 HRs as a rookie. Dave Stieb went 17-14 and led the league in Complete Games, Innings Pitched and Shutouts. Jim Clancy added a 16-14 year. The team also had traded for veteran 3B Rance Mulliniks. 1982 also saw the team make up for bad years of drafting by selecting Jimmy Key, David Wells, Pat Borders and future nemesis (Mike Henneman.) The team actually finished 6th and out of the AL East basement.
1983 provided the club with its first winning season, as it would lead to 11 straight winning years from 1983-1993. The team finished 88-74 in the tough AL East. This was good for only 4th. On the bright side was that attendance was back in the top half of the league (7th) and neared 2 Million. The offense started to really show with 9 players with 10 HRs or more, including Willie Upshaw smacking 27 HRs and driving in 103 RBI (The teams 1st 100 RBI guy.) Lloyd Moseby also finished 6th in AL BA with a .315 clip. Joining him above .300 were Damaso Garcia (.307) and Willie Upshaw (.306). Dave Stieb went 17-12 and Jim Clancy helped out with a 15-11 campaign. Pat Gillick had traded for Veteran DH Cliff Johnson who also contributed 22 Round Trippers. The 1983 Draft only yielded Glenallen Hill to show for it, but he Jays were already stocked with plenty of young talent. Ernie Whitt also was one of the better hitting catchers in the American League. Tony Fernandez also made his debut in 1983.
The Rise to AL East Contender Time 1984-1988
There was no way any other team was going to catch the Tigers in 1984 after their historical 35-5 start. The Jays finished 89-73 and in 2nd place by plenty. Doyle Alexander led the Jays and the AL in win pctg with a 17-6 season (.739), while Dave Stieb went 16-8. The year saw Jimmy Key and Kelly Gruber make their Jays debuts. The team didn’t have a great draft that year but Catcher Greg Myers did end up playing over 1100 games in the Majors. George Bell also broke out with a 26 HR year. The team cracked over the 2.0 Million Fan Barrier and finished 4th in AL Attendance.
1985 was a different story altogether in the AL East. Featuring a deep cast of players in all facets of the game, the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the AL East Pennant over the Yankees by going 99-62. Not only that, they finished 2nd in American League Attendance. Jimmy Key joined the rotation and put up a 14-6 year. Doyle Alexander, Jim Clancy and Dave Stieb rounded out the impressive 4 starters. Stieb would lead the American League with a 2.48 ERA. Bell, Moseby and Barfield all had solid years, while Tony Fernandez and Damaso Garcia were challenging Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammel for best double-play combination in the Majors. The bullpen was awesome as well. Dennis Lamp went 11-0, Jim Acker went 7-2 and was part of a trio of closers that held down 47 saves. Tom Henke would emerge the best closer by the end of the year. 1985 saw the team draft Jim Abbott and Jeff Musselman.
1985 ALCS: The Jays took a quick 2-0 lead on the KC Royals before barely losing a game to them in the late innings of game #3. Behind a 2nd win of the Series by Stieb, the Jays took another 2 game lead going up 3-1. The Kansas City Royals rallied for the last 3 games while the Toronto Blue Jays offense folded. It was a devastating 7 game loss. After the year, Bobby Cox returned to the Atlanta Braves and Jimy Williams took over as manager of the club.
Despite 92 HRs and 302 RBI from the outfield trip of Lloyd Moseby, George Bell and Jesse Barfield (who led the AL with 40 HRs), the team regressed to 4th place in 1986. Fred McGriff and Duane Ward made their debut’s in 1986. The team drafted Pat Hentgen and yet another future catcher in Randy Knorr along with reliever Willie Blair.
In 1987, the team asserted itself as an offensive powerhouse. On Sept.14/1987, the club hit a Major League Record 10 HRs during a game at Exhibition Stadium. George Bell led the years offensive charge by pulling in the Franchises first AL MVP with hitting .308 with 47 HRs and 134 RBI. Barfield and Moseby also hit 28 and 26 HRs respectively. Long-time 1B Willie Upshaw was replaced by Fred McGriff (who hit 20 HRs in 295 AB). The team held a 3 1/2 Game Lead with one week to go before squandering a lead, losing 7 straight and missing the playoffs by 2 games to the Detroit Tigers. The team finished 96-66. You can read all about that pennant race in one of my previous Articles here .
1987 was one of the best Drafts in team history with Derek Bell, Mike Timlin, Orlando Palmeiro, Ryan Thompson and Bob Macdonald all seeing a nice career in the Major Leagues. The Jays also led the league in attendance for the very first time. Jimmy Key also led the league in ERA and finished 2nd in Cy Young Voting. Tom Henke led the American League with 34 Saves.
1988 was a big disappointment for the club, they finished in 3rd place with a record of 87-75. Moseby and Barfield struggled mightily and they could not take advantage of the teams strong pitching of Dave Stieb (16-8) and Jimmy Key (12-5). 1988 was a great year of drafting pitchers as they selected Scott Erickson, Woody Williams and David Weathers, it is just too bad they came into prominence more with other teams. Ed Sprague also was drafted in 1988. Todd Stottlemyre had his MLB Debut in 1988. In the 1988 season, Dave Stieb also had a no-hitter broken up with 2 outs in the 9th inning in consecutive starts to add to the dismay of the year.
The Cito Gaston ERA Part 1/SKYDOME 1989-1996
The 1989 version of the Blue Jays imploded early and often in the 1st month. After a 12-24 start, Jimy Williams was fired and the club’s hitting coach Cito Gaston was hired. The team also moved into the bright new stadium downtown called the ‘SKYDOME.’ The Jays also traded Jesse Barfield to the New York Yankees for Al Leiter. The team rallied behind 3.4 Million Fans in the new park to finish the year 77-49 under Gaston and 89-73 overall. They had edged out Baltimore for the AL East Pennant. Fred McGriff led the AL with 36 HRs and George Bell drove in 104 RBI despite a sore shoulder. Dave Stieb rounded out the 80’s as the 2nd best pitcher for wins to Jack Morris. In ’89, he went 17-8 with a 3.35 ERA.
1989 ALCS: The Jays were overpowered by the Athletics 4-1 in a best of 7 Playoff Series. They could not keep ALCS MVP Rickey Henderson off of the base paths and the A’s went on to win the World Series versus the San Francisco Giants.
1990 was another disappointing season as George Bell slumped, along with the Bullpen. Dave Stieb finally got his no-hitter in September and capped a great year by going 18-6 with a 2.93 ERA. Jimmy Key continued his solid play with a 13-7 Year. Kelly Gruber had a Career Year with 31 HRs and 118 RBI, finishing 4th in AL MVP voting and racking in a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove at 3B. The team did not draft well and only had Steve Karsay see any legitimate time in the Majors. The team drew in a record 3.9 Million fans. In Dec of 1990, the team made the biggest blockbuster trade in franchise history when they traded Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar.
1991 saw the Jays take their 3rd AL East Pennant since 1985. The trade that went under the radar was the Devon White for Junior Felix trade that happened a just a few days before the blockbuster deal the previous winter. Devon White was sensational in his 1991 year for the Jays. 188 hits, 67 XBH, 110 Runs scored and Gold Glove Defense. Carter hit 33 HRs and drove in 108 RBI. The Jays weathered the loss of Dave Stieb with 15+ win Seasons from Stottlemyre (15-8), Jimmy Key (16-12) and David Wells (15-10.) The bullpen also converted an amazing 60 Saves between Duane Ward and Tom Henke. Also half way through the year, Juan Guzman was called up and ran a 10-3 Record up (with a 2.99 ERA) and finished 2nd in the ‘ROY’ voting. The club drew another record 4.0 Million fans. The draft success continued with Shawn Green, Chris Stynes, Jose Silva, Ryan Franklin and Ben Weber. Green only made contributions to the team. Ed Sprague and Pat Hentgen also saw their Major League Debut’s come in 1991.
1991 ALCS: Kirby Puckett was a one man wrecking crew in the ALCS and the Twins beat the Jays 4-1 in games. It was another disappointing end to a great season. Once the off-season started, the club decided to go for a veteran DH and signed Dave Winfield for the 1993 Year. The team also surprised the world be signing ‘playoff great’ Jack Morris.
There was a different feel to the 1992 club from the onset. Jack Morris was in the rotation, Dave Stieb was coming back at some point and the team still had Key, Stottlemyre and Guzman as backup. Roberto Alomar established himself as the best second baseman in the Majors in 1992 with a .310 average and nearly 50 Steals. The team went 96-66 and knocked out the AL East. As a sign of strength, the club even traded Jeff Kent to the Mets for hired-gun David Cone at the Trade Deadline. Tom Henke and Duane Ward continued to be un-hittable in the 8th and 9th innings. The team drew over 4 Million Fans for the 2nd straight year. The 92 draft brought forth MLB Players Shannon Stewart, Jeff DaVanon, Doug Mientkiewicz and Reliever Tim Crabtree.
1992 ALCS: The powerhouse A’s were back to try and win another World Series versus the Jays and took a commanding 6-1 lead in the 4th game to try and tie up the series at 2 games each. The Jays rallied and Roberto Alomar hit a heroic 9th inning 2 run HR off of dominant Dennis Eckersley to tie the game at 6 in the 9th inning, before Pat Borders hit a SF, in the 11th to steal the win and break the Athetics jinx off of the Jays. Toronto ended up winning the series in 6 for their 1st American League Pennant!
1992 World Series: The Braves stole game 1 from Jack Morris, and the Jays faced a one run deficit heading into the top of the 9th in Atlanta for Game #2. Pinch Hitter Ed Sprague knocked a game winning 2 run HR off of Braves closer Jeff Reardon to make the score 5-4 Toronto. The Jays took the next 2 games by one run before having John Smoltz and the Atlanta club spoil their planned celebration in Toronto with a 7-2 Game #5 win to make the series 3-2 Blue Jays. Back in Atlanta, the Braves trailed by one run in the bottom of the 9th before they finally got to Tom Henke, when Otis Nixon punched a hit through a hit to make it 2-2. In the top of the 11th, Devon White was Hit by a Pitch to start the inning before Alomar singled. Joe Carter flew out and this brought up Dave Winfield. The big, burly man had struggled in the World Series but drilled a Charlie Leibrandt pitch down the left field line to score speedsters White and Alomar to establish a 4-2 lead.
The Braves had been a miracle team of comebacks all season and 1992 was the year they rallied to beat the Pirates in the NLCS when Sid Bream couldn’t be thrown out by Barry Bonds in deep short to win the NLCS. So they were used to crazy comebacks. Jeff Blauser shot a single to LF to start the bottom of the 11th inning, before Damon Berryhill reached on an error. After a Rafael Belliard sacrifice bunt moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd with one out, Brian Hunter hit a tapper to 1st base which scored Blauser to make it 4-3. Mike Timlin then replaced Jimmy Key. Berryhill was replaced on the bags by John Smoltz (who was now on 3rd base with 2 out.) 9th inning hero Otis Nixon came up to hit. Mike Timlin fielded his failed bunt and put out the speedy OF at first for the Toronto Blue Jays First World Series. The Jays win marked the 1st time the World Series went North of the Border. Immediately after the 1992 year, Dave Winfield left the club. The Jays showed their pedigree by signing Free Agent DH Paul Molitor to replace him.
The 1993 version of the Toronto Blue Jays was the best offense the team has ever seen. They had the top 3 hitters in the American League that year with Batting Champ John Olerud (.363), Paul Molitor (.332) and Roberto Alomar (.326). They were in the top 2 in Most Offensive categories including leading the league with 170 SB. White, Molitor, Olerud and Alomar also each scored 100 runs. The club wrapped up its 5th AL East Pennant. To add more fear into the American League, the Jays also signed Dave Stewart to replace David Cone, and brought in Rickey Henderson for the playoff run. Pat Hentgen also emerged as an ace with a 19-9 Record. Jack Morris failed to duplicate his 21 win campaign in 1992 with only 7 wins and was pulled from the rotation. The only notable draft pick this year was Chris Carpenter. John Olerud flirted with .400 as late as August of 1993.
1993 ALCS: The Chicago White Sox were the foe for the Jays in the ALCS. The Jays took a 2-0 lead before coughing up 2 straight games. For the second time in the series, Juan Guzman and Dave Stewart won back to back games to clinch their second straight AL Pennant. Stewart was named the ALCS MVP. The guys hit .301 in the series behind the lead hitter of Paul Molitor, clipping along at a .393 Avg. Pat Borders continued to come up with clutch hits. Paul Molitor still holds the record for post season career average (over 100 AB) with a .368 mark.
1993 World Series: The Toronto Blue Jays kept the Offense rolling to the highest degree in the 1993 World Series vs the Philadelphia Phillies in scoring 47 runs for the series. After taking a 1-0 lead on the Phils in Game #1 behind Juan Guzman and HRs from White and Olerud, the Phillies came back swinging in Game #2 by defeating Dave Stewart 8-5. In Game #3, the Jays clobbered 13 hits and Pat Hentgen was strong for a 2-1 Series lead after a 10-3 win. In Game #4, the Phillies jumped all over Todd Stottlemyre and Al Leiter to score 14 runs in the 1st 7 innings. They took a 14-9 lead into the top of the 8th. Philadelphia was poised to tie the World Series at 2 games each. That is when Larry Andersen and Mitch Williams mixed in 5 scattered hits and 2 walks, while watching 6 runs come across for the Jays to take a 15-14 lead in front of a stunned Veterans Stadium crowd in Philly. Mike Timlin and Duane Ward then retired the next 6 batters for the Phillies, including 4 strikeouts to take a commanding lead in the 1993 Fall Classic.
It was a great thing for the Jays that they held a 3-1 lead heading into Game #5, because Curt Schilling shut the powerhouse offense out to send the series back to Canada. In Game #6, the Jays took a 5-1 lead into the top of the 7th. Cue the Comeback for the Phillies. Lenny Dykstra hit a 3-run HR to chase Dave Stewart and make the score 5-4. Jays reliever Danny Cox did not fare much better and gave up a couple of singles and a walk, so the score went to 5-5. Pete Incaviglia then hit a sacrifice fly off of Al Leiter to take the lead for the Philadelphia. The Phillies held the lead until the bottom of the 9th.
Mitch Williams came into the game and immediately walked Rickey Henderson. He then got Devon White to fly out for the 1st out. Paul Molitor then lined a shot to CF and Henderson moved up to second. Mitch got two strikes on Carter before the threw a 2-2 pitch exactly where his catcher asked for it, knee high and inside. The problem was that Joe Carter was out in front of it and pulled it down the left field line and it barely cleared the wall for a 3 run World Series Clinching HR. Everyone remembers Tom Cheek’s call “Touch’ EM ALL Joe. you will never hit a bigger homerun in year life.” Carter hopped around the bases at a frenetic pace. It was the 1st walk off World Series HR since Game #7 of 1960 when Bill Mazeroski did it for the Pirates over the New York Yankees.
The Blue Jays were World Series Champions for the second year in a row and had a young core of players and a stadium that drew 4 Million Fans a season. The future certainly bright for the Canadian Franchise. Little did the fans know, that there were darker times ahead.
Franchise History Part 2 1994-2012: https://mlbreports.com/2012/11/28/jay/
For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here:
For Part 7 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll: A Readers Thoughts, Click Here:
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Posted on November 9, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged AL East, al leiter, alan trammell, alcs, alfredo griffin, Atlanta Braves, barry bonds, Bill Mazeroski, bob macdonald, Bobby Cox, bobby mattick, boston red sox, brian hunter, carlos delgado, charlie leibrandt, chicago whitesox, Chuck Booth. fastest 30 ballgames, Cito gaston, cliff johnson, curt schilling, cy young, damaso garcia, danny cox, dave collins, dave stewart, dave stieb, dave winfield, david cone, david wells, dennis lamp, derek lowe, detroit tigers, Devon White, doug ault, doyle alexander, Duane Ward, ed sprague, ernie whitt, exhibition stadium, fred mcGriff, garth iorg, george bell, glenallen hill, greg myers, jack morris, jays drafting record, jeff blauser, jeff kent, jeff musselfman, jesse barfield, jim abbott, jim acker, jim clancy, JImmy Key, jimy williams, Joe Carter, john cerutti, john olerud, jose bautista, junior felix, kansas city royals, kelly gruber, larry andersen, lenny dykstra, lloyd moseby, Lou Whitaker, mike timlin, minnesota twins, Mitch Williams, mlb expansion, montreal expos, new york yankees, oakland athletics, orlando palmeiro, otis nixon, otto velez, pat borders, pat gillick, Pat Hentgen, pete vuckovich, pittsburgh pirates, rafael belliard, rance mulliniks, randy knorr, rick cerone, rickey hednerson, rickey henderson, rico carty, roberto alomar, roger clemens, ron fairly, ron guidry, roy halladay, roy hartsfield, roy howell, rule 5 draft, rupert jones, ryan thompson, scott erickson, seattle mariners, shawn green, Sid Bream, skydome, steve karsay, todd stottlemyre, Tom Cheek, tom henke, tony fernandez, toronto, toronto blue jays, twitter @chuckbooth3024, willie blair, willie upshaw, woody williams, world series. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.