March 12, 2012; Dunedin, FL, USA; A detail of a baseball bat and Toronto Blue Jays towels in the dugout before a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
And you all thought you could get rid of me…mwahaahaahaa etc. Time for Unky Jeff to regale you with stories of history, optimism and franchise firsts. I am going to tell you the story of every home opener from April 7, 1977 until the glorious day of April 2, 2013. Every game, detailed in live Morto-vision. When you are done with the read you will feel like you were there…even if you were just a glint in yer momma’s eye at the time…
Date: April 7, 1977
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game #1: Chicago White Sox vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: Frikken Freezin’
44,649 frigid fans stuffed the Argonauts stomping grounds to watch the first game of Canada’s newest team. Also, it was the only MLB game up to that point that had ever been played with snow on the field. Blizzard like conditions the day before the game caused traffic chaos for fans and palyers alike trying to get to the first regular season game in franchise history.
As we all know, it isn’t easy to build a team from scratch. We had castoffs and cheap free agents, though there was some clout in the name department (Rick Cerone was an above average catcher, Pete Vuckovich the inherent closer…aaaand that’s about it). It was the type of team where a man out of nowhere could be a hero and this day was primed for the first hero of Blue Jays lore…Doug Ault. A player with 9 games of major league playing time. A man chosen 16th in the expansion draft. A first baseman with skills that had yet to fully manifest itself. A man out of MLB about a year later.
In the tundra of The Ex, Bill Singer started with a high strike to first batter Ralph Garr who subsequently became the first man to score a run against the Blue Jays (thank you for the sac fly Jorge Orta!). After the first inning it was already 2-0 White Sox. Ken Brett comes out to pitch to John Scott who became the first Blue Jays batter to ever strike out, as did 2nd hitter Hector Torres. Then came the first at bat of our first hero. Doug Ault slammed a solo home run in his at bat to cut the lead to 1.
After 2 it was 4-1. In the third Hector Torres made up for his strike out with a solid single and was cashed in by the second homer of the game by Doug Ault. 2 at-bats: 2 home runs. Instant Hero. The fans went mad and a smile crept over Ault’s face as he realized a dream game that most in the history of baseball never achieve. Add in another home run by Al Woods later in the game and you have the 9-5 victory for the undefeated 1 and 0 Toronto Blue Jays.
As the years have gone on it seems everyone was at that game. Millions of people in 44,000 seats. Everyone old enough remembers that day that the almost Toronto Giants truly became your Toronto Blue Jays. And so it began…