September 29, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Toronto Blue Jays mascot prior to a game against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
If you are one of the millions of Blue Jays fans out there then you assuredly aware that 1985 was THE year in a few ways. Dave Stieb‘s 2.48 ERA led the American League. Tony Fernandez took over from Alfredo Griffin (traded to Oakland for Bill Caudill???) and began a career that would lead him to be the all-time games played leader for us. We had Doyle and Jimmy and Dennis and Tom pitching their guts out. Jim Clancy and Luis Leal being rewarded for their loyalty and professionalism. Great players in George Bell and Willie Upshaw and Damaso Garcia and Jesse Barfield and and and…I remember this year so well.
It was the first time a team I was rooting for ever won anything. it was a new feeling and one I would experience over and over again for a decade. We were lucky to have seen one of the greatest ten year runs of any MLB team. I was hooked. This was my formative years as a sports fan. I realize now how lucky I was to have seen such great teams. Each one different but the outcomes the same: winners. How did it start?
Date: April 16, 1985
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Texas Rangers vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: 19.4C…a frikken heat wave it was…
Our season started out as a 3-3 road trip through Kansas City and Baltimore and then waiting to take us on in our 9th Home Opener was SP Mike Mason along with a good but not great lineup featuring Toby Harrah and Larry Parrish. Luis Leal would take the ball for the Jays but it seemed on this day it didn’t matter who pitched as the following pitching lines will attest:
Leal L (0-1)4.264414
Totals 9.0 12 9 7 5 7
I believe the word to use from today’s vernacular would be BAZINGA and not in the good way. It wasn’t a great start to the season. Other than a 3 run homer from Garth “Leeeeean” Iorg, the offense disappeared. There was worry in Jays land that the 2 seasons previous were the high water mark for winning and we might be settling back into the doldrums of mediocre baseball. To give the line up of Texas some perspective, each of the nine starters collected one RBI and since we only managed 4 runs ourselves that would be a 9-4 Home Opening drubbing. But as we know it was just a slow start until things started to steamroll.
To this day the 99 wins of the ’85 season stand as the most in team history…even more than the World Series winning teams. Bobby Cox was the perfect manager to lead this team and his fiery temperment and attention to detail gave this collection of players the ability to shine. Cox always let the talent and work ethic dictate who would thrive and take their game to the next level. Mission accomplished….save for the ALCS loss after a 3-1 lead…damn you Jim Sundberg…I mean seriously. Up next…1986! Yeehaw and stuff!