Hi kids. It’s the resident grey beard here at JaysJournal hoping to shed some light on the history of the Blue Jays franchise. I am not only going to focus on certain games but I am also going to focus on certain players as well this off-season. I have been through the wars with this team since I was 9 years old…that would be after the strike-shortened 1981 season and onwards.
I was sitting at my desk trying to figure out how best to start this off. Well the one thing you notice about the Blue Jays and their history is they have had some pretty good elite to very good talent here almost every year. You constantly hear about the players who don’t want to come here because of us being all foreign-like but there are also players who had no choice and were traded to the Blue Jays.
Some made their marks during the sweet years between 1983 and 1993. Doyle Alexander, Jack Morris, David Cone, Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro, Dave Collins. Dave Collins? I assume the lot of you are now scratching your heads wondering who the freakin’ hell is Dave Collins? Well Dave Collins owns one of the oldest single season records that are in the Blue Jays history books.
In the ’70s and ’80s it wasn’t about the long ball, it was about speed. Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines and Vince Coleman. Guys who ran the bases with relative ease, stealing 2nd and 3rd as if they were born to. They are the poster boys for the era of pitching, speed and defense. Sure there were home run hitters but not today where every player seems to have a good chance of knocking one out of the park once in a while. This is where Collins comes in.
Traded by the New York Yankees along with Mike Morgan and a then relatively unknown Fred McGriff, Collins was brought in to fill the gaps in thee outfield what with George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield still trying to solidify themselves as major league players as well as taking time at first base whenever Wllie Upshaw was resting or DHing. Collins was my bespectacled first baseball hero…….that wasn’t Dave Stieb. He played a decent outfield and was a solid hitter with a career average of .272 in a 15 year career. 395 career stolen basesb. Not bad at all.
I remember sitting in the $2 Dominion bleacher seats with my Dad and brother in the summer of 1984. Collins was to hit .308 overall that year and again had been running the bases as a pretty good lead off guy who was hitting number 2 thanks to the legendary Tony Fernandez taking the one spot. He played with relative ease and big ol’ glasses and seemed like a throwback kind of guy. Then he made Blue Jays history.
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I was glued to the radio September 25, 1984. My favourite pitcher of all-time…the Stiebonator, was taking on the feisty Al Nipper (great name for a guy who knew how to pick his spots). Stieb was having a great year up to this point. This game took a nasty turn at Fenway and Stieb ended up giving up 8 earned in 4.2 innings…to raise his ERA to 2.79. Nipper gave up 6 earned himself so it was truly a hitting-fest. It was in this game that Collins would do it.
Overshadowed by the poor pitching, Collins went 3 for 4 with a run, a RBI and 2 SB. The second of those two stolen bases would be the 60th of the season. A career best for him, 2nd in the American League and a single season record for the Blue Jays. No one would come close to that number for a couple decades (see: Stewart: Shannon).
I know the stolen base isn’t used to as much effect as it used to be…well except for the 2014 playoff Runnin’ Royals of Kansas City. It is used by some and will always be a part of the game but to go 3 decades for a team to not knock off what seems to be a seemingly reachable record goes to show just how hard it is to steal a base these days.
So hats of to Dave “Legs” Collins. Your name will forever be etched in the Blue Jays record book and will most likely stand the test of time.