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Toronto Blue Jays Manager Chronicles: Roy Hartsfield

TORONTO - 1980: Left field view of Exhibition Stadium with the Blue Jays on field circa 1980 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by John Reid/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
TORONTO - 1980: Left field view of Exhibition Stadium with the Blue Jays on field circa 1980 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by John Reid/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Roy Hartsfield was the Toronto Blue Jays inaugural manager lasting three seasons at the helm of the expansion team from north of the border.

The Blue Jays leaned on a rookie manager to guide the expansion team on its first journey through the MLB ranks. Roy Hartsfield had a very similar managing pedigree as that of current Toronto skipper Charlie Montoyo. Hartsfield had enjoyed success at the minor league ranks and had occupied positions on an MLB bench but never as the main man.

Hartsfield made his MLB debut as a player with the Boston Braves in 1950 seeing action 107 games as a rookie. The 24-year old second baseman would spend three seasons in the majors from 1950-52 playing 265 games.

He sported a career .273/.324/.358 line with 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 1063 plate appearances. He would toil in the minors ar various ranks for a number of affiliates before hanging up the spikes in 1961.

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Hartsfield also spent parts of two seasons with the Montreal Royals from 1953-54 playing with the likes of Roberto Clemente and Tommy Lasorda for the Brooklyn Dodgers Triple-A affiliate.

The Georgia native was fresh off back-to-back Pacific Coast League Triple-A championships when Blue Jays general manager Peter Bavasi came calling. Hartsfield had previous coaching experience with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves at the major league level but Toronto offered him his first crack at a managerial position.

Hartsfield’s teams showed little improvement over the course of his three seasons and the Blue Jays actually had a worse record in 1979 than their first season. In total, the Blue Jays were 166-318 with Hartsfield on the bench.

His tenure in Toronto came to a boiling point in 1979 when numerous players chastised their manager publicly to the media and it became apparent he had lost the room forcing management to bring in a replacement. The brain trust would make the switch to Bobby Mattick for the 1980 season as the new skipper of the team.

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Hartsfield would manage again at the minor league ranks with the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. The baseball lifer would eventually pass away due to complications from liver cancer at the age of 85.

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