The History of Our Home Openers: 1984
Sep 6, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; TV personality Buck Martinez before the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
1984 was a magical year. The Beastie Boys were fighting for our rights and I went to my first Blue Jays game. I am glad I still have them because if one looked at the year 1984 in baseball history books it was all about the Detroit Tigers. I mean, if we went 35-5 in our first 40 games we would have been the toast of the town. As it turns out, this was to be our best season yet with the addition of George Bell to the lineup we had the makings of “The Best Outfield of the 80’s”.Kelly Gruber was acquired and Dennis Lamp signed as a free agent. This season may have been lost in baseball annals a bit but the Blue Jays were not just a great team…they were now true blue contenders for the AL East crown.
Date: April 17, 1984
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Baltimore Orioles vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: 6C and clear blue
This was a particularly crazy Home Opener in that it came after a 10 game west coast swing to start the season (that’s maaaaaadness). We came out of it relatively healthy with a 6-4 record. The game was a duel of two of the better pitchers in the game at the time: Mike Boddicker vs. Doyle Alexander (who was now a part of our starting rotation). As the boxscore reads that I am deciphering for all y’all it was a pitchers duel with Boddicker going 6 innnings and giving up 2 runs and Alexander going 7 and giving up the same. It was tied going into the bottom of the eighth when current broadcaster and former catcher Buck Martinez lifted a sac fly in the eighth to go ahead by one. Dennis Lamp nailed down the ninth to record his second save of the season in a 3-2 Jays win.
We wound up 89-73 again and finish second in the AL East. Even though the Tigers ran and hid with the AL Crown and eventually the World Series, there was much to cheer for in Blue Jay land. In a game against the Oakland Athletics in August, DH Cliff Johnson hit the 19th pinch home run of his career, breaking Jerry Lynch‘s record of 18. Jimmy Key set a Jays rookie record by appearing in 63 games. OF Lloyd Moseby and OF Dave Collins each led the American League with 15 triples. Rance Mulliniks set a team record by getting 8 consecutive hits and Dave Stieb finished second in the American League in strikeouts and ERA.
It was a true test of the franchise’s ability. The season before could have been an aberration but this team proved it wasn’t. It showed the rest of baseball that it had better start keeping an eye north. The Jay train was finally rolling…here we come 1985!