Yesterday marked the anniversary of the first cycle ever hit in Toronto Blue Jays history, however, there is a little known humourous story surrounding the historic achievement.
Prior to April 16th, 1989 no Toronto Blue Jays player had ever hit for the cycle in franchise history. That was until Kelly Gruber and company faced off against the Kansas City Royals in front of 35,210 fans at Exhibition Stadium.
Gruber was hitting second and got the day off to a good start with a solo home run off Floyd Bannister in the bottom of the first inning. The Jays were already down 6-0 as Dave Stieb didn’t make it out of the first inning and had to be replaced by David Wells.
The third baseman would hit again in the second inning stroking a double to left field and cashing in two. The contest turned into an all-out barnburner as the Jays trailed 7-6 after the second inning.
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Brett Saberhagen would get the best of Gruber in the fourth as he induced a groundout to the pitcher for the first out of the inning. The Blue Jays would take a 9-7 lead in the inning, thanks to a three-run bomb from Jesse Barfield.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Gruber would lineout to centrefield off Jeff Montgomery. The Blue Jays were up by one still protecting a 9-8 lead at the end of the inning. The third baseman would revive his chances for the cycle in the bottom of the seventh, scorching a triple to right field that would score a pair off Royals hurler Tom Gordon.
In the bottom of the eighth inning and Jerry Don Gleaton on the mound, Gruber would stroll to the plate only needing a single to complete the feat. Gruber would pop a duck snort out to shallow centrefield for an RBI single completing the elusive cycle for the first time in franchise history.
Gruber ended up going 4 for 6 on the afternoon with six runs batted in as the Blue Jays would earn the victory 15-8. The most ironic part of it all is that Gruber had no idea what the cycle was prior to the game and didn’t realize he had done anything special until he was standing on first base.
In a later interview with Sportsnet, Gruber commented on his cycle ignorance:
"“I didn’t know what the cycle was and thank goodness I didn’t because I’d a probably choked it. But I found out I hit for the cycle after my last hit, when I was on first."
Gruber’s teammates would later present the third baseman with a tricycle in recognition for his efforts on April 16th. Jeff Frye and most recently Cavan Biggio are the only players to hit for the cycle in a Blue Jays uniform to date.