Being five years old at the time of the second ever Blue Jays Home Opener, I remember little. The first game is embedded in all Jays fans brains because it is shown over and over again as the historic game that it was. So digging through the interweb trying to find a good story about that Home Opener is a might bit tricky but Unky Jeff thinks you will get a sense of the day that was…
Date: April 14, 1978
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game #6: Detroit Tigers vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: A wee bit nippley
It should be noted that this is the season many consider the worst this team had ever been. Really how could they not be? But it was also the season where we caught glimpses of the future. The year they drafted Lloyd Moseby 2nd overall in the player draft and five rounds later a power armed outfielder by the name of David Stieb. So as you can see, it was a great year in retrospect but reality was the team was about as good as their 1-4 record going into their Home Opener.
It was the time of big John Mayberry and Rico Carty. Hitting would save us because out pitching was…bad. Jerry Garvin, a fine average major league starter, was in trouble from the get go and was out of the game with 1 out in the third. CF Ron Lefore and 1B Jason Thompson took him deep so 7 hits and 4 earned runs later and Balor Moore came in to give up a couple walks and Don Kirkwood was summoned to stop the bleeding. He gave up 3 more runs but was able to give the team a much need 5 and 2/3 innings. He kept them in the game.
Jim Slaton didn’t fare much better against the Blue Jays, giving up a ton of extra base hits and also 4 runs. The difference in the game was the Jays ability to pounce on the next two pitchers for 6 earned runs, all in the 6th inning. The Jays would hold down the fort and prevail 10-8 bringing their season record up to 4-2.
This team would go on the win 59 games and lose 102. Definitely a dark time for the Jays but with Roy Howell tearing the cover off the ball on this day it lent itself to a few bright spots. They are the Jays of last year. Young, no hope and not sure where to go. But knowing that the best pitcher in team history (arguably) and the best centre fielder in team history began their journey to the bigs during ths shite year for on field watchability made the year worthwhile and very definitively important to the future of the franchise.
Kirkwood would seal the deal and new closer Tom Murphy would pick up the save in the 10-8 slugfest. It is now the optimism and the core of the team is beginning to take shape. Tomorrow, 1979. Yee haw.