The History of Our Home Openers: 1983
Apr 1, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; Former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick before the game against the Minnesota Twins at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ahhh 1983. Now we are talking about the true birth of a competitive, competent and exciting team. 1983 was the year Dave Collins stole 60 bases…still a Blue Jays single season record. 1983 was the year we made a trade with the Yankees that included future borderline Hall of Famer Fred McGriff. 1983 was the Jays first winning season (89-73…4th in East), the first of 11 consecutive winning seasons. Willie Upshaw was the first Blue Jay to ever record 100 RBI (104 to be precise). It was the year that the Blue Jays began to make noise and show the rest of baseball this was a young, hungry up and coming contender.
Date: April 9, 1983
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: New York Yankees vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
The budding rivalry between these two foes was always a joy to watch in the 80’s, partly because the Yanks were sometimes a train wreck behind the scenes. Their star outfielder, Dave Winfield, even killed a seagull at The Ex and was charged with animal cruelty by the cops (heeheehee…’tupid Yank). To begin the season of drama we split a road opener of two games in Beantown before returning home to face crafty veteran Doyle Alexander as we throw team stalwart Jim Gott out against him.
With names like Baylor and Nettles and Winfield and Randolph we know the Bombers could truly hit as well. Both starters turned in quality starts (Alexander 7 plus innings and 3 runs, Gott 6 innings and two runs) and the game was 4-2 going into the bottom of the eighth. It was here that the magic and majesty of Jesse Barfield was shining as he drilled a 3 run pinch hit home run to put the Jays ahead and leave Roy Lee Jackson to finish it off with a shaky 2.1 inning outing (it was Jackson that gave up the go ahead 2 runs in the top of the eighth). He can thank Mr. Barfield for giving him the chance to redeem himself in the game and he did by shutting the Yanks down in the 9th.
It was the type of statement game the Jays needed to make early. Their pitching was coming around (Dave Stieb was now a bona fide ace) and we had power and speed and patience at the plate. It would be the true template that led to a decade of Blue Jays baseball. It finally gace the city some hope that we would be able to compete with the big boys. To be at this point after only 6 years of existence started to help build the legend that is Pat Gillick. Some shrewd moves through Rule 5 and some killer instincts on trades (McGriff, Fielder) and great moves in the draft (Lloyd Moseby) helped shape the defining time of winning baseball in Toronto. Gillick was all over it like white on rice and his hard work definitely was beginning to show…and 1984 would truly show what smarts Gillick has…