The History of Our Home Openers: 1982
August 12, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves former manager Bobby Cox readies to throw out the first pitch following the retirement of his jersey number “6” before the Atlanta Braves game against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field. The Braves retired Bobby Cox jersey number. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
As you loyal readers have seen so far in this series, the Blue Jays, no matter how bad the seasons have been up to this point, were butt kickers during home openers…winning them all so far. Well, ummmm….welcome to 1982. As we know, streaks are a part of baseball both big and small. We define greatness with numbers and statistics. Well this would be a record setting April day against arch-nemesis Pete Vukovich (yes…again) and the upstart and very talented Milwaukee Brewers.
A day that most in attendance would most like to forget…but, ironically, the beginning of the best season by far the Blue Jays had managed…and speaking of managed the Jays were managed for the first time by Mr. Bobby Cox. Jesse Barfield, Rance Mulliniks and Garth Iorg began to show their mettle during this season. A big transition of a year in which Dave Stieb fully realized his potential with 19 complete games and 5 shutouts! Whhaaaa?? Yes kids. These numbers were far more common before the advent of specialized relief. But I digress…
Date: April 9, 1983
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Milwaukee Brewers vs, YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: 1C…clear but chilled…like the first beer ever sold at the game that day.
I won’t kill you with details but rather will put up three batting lines and a couple pitching lines that sum up how the Brewers were doing that day against starter Mark Bomback (an ex Brewer) and the rest of the Blue Jays staff:
Bomback L (0-1)0.166611
2 Cooper 1b5134
3 Oglivie lf5234
6 Yount ss4132
Bomback didn’t get past the first out and “reliable” Jerry Garvin stunk up the joint too. Jim Gott didn’t give up the hits but FIVE walks? There were others but these lines show the true nature of this game. They beat us to death with their bats by a score of 15-4. This, of course, were the most runs allowed by a Jays team in a Home Opener…by leaps and bounds. The Brew Crew scored 6 in the first and 7 in the 6th…yikes! It wasn’t the long ball that killed us (just one in the game for them by LF Ben Ogilvie) it was a constant barrage of timely hits that 30,216 fans were unfortunate enough to witness. 9 for 23 with RISP. That’ll lose ya!
It seems Milwaukee had our number for years but this season in particular it was almost conceded that way. The Brewers were on the precipice of winning an AL East Division Crown and steamrolling into the playoffs. We finished last in the division but the division was a true battleground. We were 78-84 but only 17 games out of first. Bobby Cox took the reigns and started to give the team and it’s fans expectations. As we have learned throughout the last 25 years, Bobby Cox knows how to win. If the fans were willing to stick it out they would see something marvelous happen…in 1983. Cue the excitement…