Feb 24, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; A detailed view of the Toronto Blue Jays logo before a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The History of Our Home Openers: 1980

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For those of you who are keeping track, Unky Jeff mentioned last article that Roy Hartsfield was let go as manager of the Blue Jays after thr `79 season. The team chose scouting supervisor Bobby Mattick to be it`s second manager. SP Tom Underwood and C Rick Cerone were sent to the Yankees for P Paul Mirabella, future all-star 2B Damaso Garcia and former ROY 1B Chris Chambliss, who was then dealt to the Braves for outfielder Barry Bonnell and reliever Joey McLaughlin. This was the next little glimpse of the future. John Mayberry slugged a club-record 30 homers. Al Woods hit .300. Ernie Whitt became the team’s No. 1 catcher, and Lloyd Moseby and Willie Upshaw both earned spots in the lineup. Added to a line up with Alfredo Griffin, starters Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy more pieces began to fall into place for future success

Date: April 16, 1980
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Milwaukee Brewers vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: -2C with light rain and snow

The Home Opener brought more optimism than the previous years. We had a few stars, great hitters and a developing pitching staff. It is with this team that the Blue Jays opened on the road in Seattle and got beat 3 of 4. Back home in our friendly confines Dave Stieb took the ball against a pretty good Buck Rogers led Brew Crew. Their starter against Stieb was Pete Vukovich along with budding stars Paul Molitor, Cecil Cooper and Robin Yount. Good thing we had Stieb…why?

Because we smoked the Brewers 11-2 in front of 12,688 loyal fans. Going into the season the fans took a wait and see attitude to the new managerial change. As the numbers above attest, there were some great performances. In the Home Opener it was a true team effort. 9 strong by Stieb, striking out 5 and giving up 2 earned. For the Jays we smoked Vukovich and the pen with 2 ribbies apiece from Alfredo Griffin, Rick Bosetti, Roy Howell and Al Woods with Howell getting his on the only homer of the game for the Jays. It was the type of statement they needed to make.

My favourite boxscore find is RF Sixto Lezcano whiffing 3 of 4 at bats. Sixtoooo Lezacannnoooooo. Anyway, as the season wore on we set a few milestones. On September 12 the Blue Jays upended Baltimore 7-5 to win their 60th game of the season. This set a new club record for victories in a single season. On September 26, the Blue Jays reached the 6 million mark in home attendance which was the best mark for an expansion team in MLB history at the time.

So we now have two starting pitchers, a catcher, a second baseman, a first baseman and a centre fielder of championships to come playing regularly. If you followed the minors then as we all do now you would see more coming…and a few deals you didn`t. But we`ll discuss that soon. So keep your eyes peeled kids. Tomorrow…the whacky world of strike shortened seasons…

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