1977 Toronto Blue Jays season

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1977 Toronto Blue Jays
Inaugural season
Major League affiliations
Location
Other information
Owner(s) Labatt Breweries,
Imperial Trust,
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Manager(s) Roy Hartsfield
Local television CBC Television
(Don Chevrier, Tony Kubek, Tom McKee)
Local radio CKFH
(Early Wynn, Tom Cheek)
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The 1977 Toronto Blue Jays season was the first year of Major League Baseball played by the Toronto-based expansion franchise. The Blue Jays finished seventh in the American League East with a record of 54 wins and 107 losses, 45½ games behind the World Champion New York Yankees.

Offseason[edit]

Spring training[edit]

The Blue Jays spring training was held in Dunedin, Florida. In their first pre-season game on March 11, the Jays beat the New York Mets by a score of 3–1. The first two times that they played the Montreal Expos, the Jays were triumphant as well. Perhaps the highlight of spring training was a match against the Cincinnati Reds. The Blue Jays defeated the defending World Series champions as the Reds were missing only one regular starter from their lineup.[10] After spring training, the Blue Jays 25-man roster was set. Ron Fairly, who had previously played for the Montreal Expos, was one of the most recognizable players on the nascent team. The only marquee name was Bill Singer. Pat Gillick had a deal with the New York Yankees to trade Singer for a promising, young left-hander named Ron Guidry.[10] Blue Jays president Peter Bavasi vetoed the deal as Singer was part of his plan to market and promote the team.[10]

Regular season[edit]

The first game[edit]

On April 7, 1977, 44,649 fans were in attendance to watch the first game in Blue Jays history as the Blue Jays played the Chicago White Sox.[11] Notables in attendance that day included Paul Godfrey, Toronto mayor David Crombie, legendary broadcaster Foster Hewitt, and country singer Anne Murray.[12] Besides the snow that adorned the field, there were hundreds of fans who missed the first pitch due to many traffic jams that day.

The umpires for the game included crew chief Nestor Chylak, Joe Brinkman, Rich Garcia, and 27-year old Steve Palermo, who was making his major league debut.[13] The game was broadcast on the CBC with Tom McKee (Host), Don Chevrier (Play by Play) and New York Yankee legend Whitey Ford providing the commentary. McKee was the first ever face, and voice, to appear on the inaugural Blue Jays telecast. The Blue Jays would only appear on the CBC sixteen times that first season.[12]

As the snow was squeegeed off the field, the 48th Highlanders marched onto the field to perform the Star Spangled Banner. Country music star Murray arrived to sing O Canada while wearing a red parka.[13] The fans chanted "We want beer", because Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium was the only stadium in the major leagues to not serve beer.[14]

Bill Singer took to the mound and threw the first pitch in Toronto Blue Jays history against Ralph Garr of the White Sox. The pitch was a high fastball called for a strike.[14] From an 0–2 count, Garr battled back to get the count at 3–2, and then he drew a walk. Afterwards, Garr stole second base, and advanced to third base because Blue Jays catcher Rick Cerone's throw went into center field.[14] The next batter was shortstop Alan Bannister who hit a fly ball for the first out of the game. Jorge Orta batted third and he hit a sacrifice fly which scored Garr, the first run at Exhibition Stadium.[14] Richie Zisk followed and hit the first home run in the history of the stadium. The score was now 2–0 in favour of the White Sox.

Blue Jays manager Roy Hartsfield went to the mound to talk to Singer. As Hartsfield went to the mound, reliever Jerry Johnson started warming up in the bullpen. Singer was able to compose himself and he got Eric Soderholm to hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.[14]

John Scott was the first Blue Jay to take an at bat for the team. He faced White Sox pitcher Ken Brett, taking a strike on the first pitch thrown to him.[12] He struck out, as did the next Jays batter, Héctor Torres.

The third Blue Jays batter in the game was Doug Ault, a 27 year old career minor leaguer with only nine games experience in the major leagues who had been the Jays' sixteenth pick in the expansion draft.[12] On a 1–1 pitch, Ault hit the first home run in Blue Jays history. The score was now 2–1 in favour of Chicago.

After the second inning it was 4–1 for Chicago.[12] In the bottom of the second, Gary Woods bunted for a single, stole second, and scored on a hit by Pedro García.

In the third inning, Torres had a single and Ault was back at bat. With the count 1–1, Ault hit his second home run down the right field line, and the game was tied at 4.[12] Heading into the fourth inning, Toronto got the lead as Dave McKay singled in García from second base.[15]

Singer was still in the game in the top of the fifth inning. Singer struck out Chet Lemon, but Brian Downing and Ralph Garr singled off him.[15] Hartsfield came out to the mound and pulled Singer out of the game. Singer left to a standing ovation as Jerry Johnson entered the game.[15] Johnson got the final two outs of the fifth inning.

Al Woods came up to pinch hit for Steve Bowling in the bottom of the fifth inning.[15] With Otto Vélez on the basepads, Woods homered to right field.[15] The score was 7–4 in favour of the Jays. The Jays had scored in every inning of the game.

The Sox scored a run in the sixth inning and it was 7–5. Pete Vuckovich started the eighth inning. He struck out two batters, gave up a walk and a single, but he got a ground ball to end the inning.[16] In the bottom of the inning, Ault returned to the plate and singled in another run to make the score 8–5. Another run was scored on a double play to make the score 9–5 in favour of the Jays.

In the top of the ninth inning, Vuckovich retired Jorge Orta on a ground ball. Vuckovich then struck out Richie Zisk. For the day, Zisk had four hits in five at bats.[16] With one out to go for the win, Jim Spencer hit a line drive to left field but Scott dropped the ball for a two-base error. Oscar Gamble was up at the plate and he grounded out to the shortstop.[16] The Jays won their first game in franchise history. Jerry Johnson picked up the win while Vuckovich got the save.[16]

The heroes of opening day would not have a future with the Jays. Jerry Johnson would end up in Hollywood working as a stuntman. At the 1977 Winter Meetings, the Jays traded Vuckovich to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Tom Underwood.[16] Doug Ault was back in the minors in 1979.[17]

Linescore[edit]

April 7, Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, Ontario

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 15 0
Toronto 1 1 2 1 2 0 0 2 0 9 16 1
W: Jerry Johnson (1–0)  L: Ken Brett (0–1)  
HRs: Doug Ault (2), Alvis Woods (1), Richie Zisk (1)

Boxscore[edit]

Batting[edit]
Chicago White Sox AB R H RBI Toronto Blue Jays AB R H RBI
Garr, lf 5 2 3 0 Scott, lf 5 1 1 0
Bannister, ss 5 0 1 1 Torres, ss 2 1 1 0
Nyman, ph 1 0 0 0 Mason, ph/ss 1 1 0 0
Nordbrook, ss 0 0 0 0 Ault, 1b 4 2 3 4
Orta, 2b 4 0 0 1 Vélez, dh 4 1 2 0
Zisk, rf 6 2 4 2 G. Woods, cf 5 1 1 0
Spencer, 1b 6 0 2 0 Bowling, rf 2 0 0 0
Gamble, dh 3 0 0 0 A. Woods, ph, rf 3 1 1 2
Soderholm, 3b 5 0 2 1 García, 2b 4 1 3 1
Lemon, cf 4 0 0 0 McKay, 3b 4 0 2 1
Downing, c 4 1 3 0 Cerone, c 4 0 2 0
Totals 43 5 15 5 Totals 38 9 16 8
Pitching[edit]
Chicago White Sox IP H R ER BB SO
Brett, L (0–1) 3.0 9 5 5 0 4
Barrios 3.0 3 2 2 3 1
Hamilton 1.0 3 2 2 0 1
LaGrow 1.0 1 0 0 0 1
Totals 8.0 16 9 9 3 7
Toronto Blue Jays IP H R ER BB SO
Singer 4.1 11 4 3 3 5
Johnson W (1–0) 2.2 3 1 1 3 1
Vuckovich, SV (1) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3
Totals 9.0 15 5 4 7 9

April[edit]

The Blue Jays would finish off their first ever homestand with a 5-2 record, sitting in first place in the American League East by 0.5 games, as the team took two of three against the Chicago White Sox and three of four from the Detroit Tigers. Pitcher Jerry Garvin picked up two of Toronto's five wins.

The Blue Jays struggled on their first ever road trip, as they were swept in a three game series against the Chicago White Sox, followed by a split in a four game series against the New York Yankees to return home with a 7-7 record.

On April 27th, the Blue Jays were involved in their first ever extra innings game, as the team defeated the Cleveland Indians 6-5 in 12 innings.

The Jays would finish the month in fifth place with a 10-11 record, three games out of first place. Pitcher Jerry Garvin had an impressive 4-0 record with a 2.14 ERA. Outfielder Otto Velez hit .442 with five home runs and 18 RBI and was named American League Player of the Month.

May[edit]

On May 4th, the Blue Jays scored 10 runs in a game for the first time in team history, as they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 10-3 at Exhibition Stadium. The Jays would get 10 runs again five nights later on May 9th in a 10-4 win in their first ever game against their expansion cousins, the Seattle Mariners.

On May 14th, the Jays allowed double digits in runs for the first time in a 13-3 loss against the Minnesota Twins.

Toronto struggled during the month of May, as the team would post a record of 8-17. Following a 6-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics on May 25th, the Blue Jays fell into last place in the American League East for the first time.

June[edit]

After losing their first two games in the month of June, the Blue Jays would win five of their next six games, as their only loss in that span was a 2-1 decision in 13 innings against the California Angels. Following that, Toronto would win only two of their next 14 games.

On June 27th, Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees was carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning when he walked the bases loaded, then gave up a grand slam to light hitting Hector Torres, as the Jays won the game 7-6.

During the month, Toronto had a 10-17 record, bringing their overall record to 28-45, seventh place in the American League East.

July[edit]

The Blue Jays played their first ever Canada Day game on July 1st, as Toronto lost to the Texas Rangers 11-8 at Exhibition Stadium.

The Jays would go into the All-Star break with a 34-58 record, 19 games out of first place. At the 1977 Major League Baseball All-Star Game held at Yankee Stadium in New York, New York on July 19, first baseman Ron Fairly was the only Blue Jays representative. He struck out in his only at-bat against Tom Seaver.

After the All-Star break, the Blue Jays would continue to struggle, losing eight game in a row, before ending the month with a win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Toronto would have a record of 7-21 in July to bring their overall record to 35-66, and 24 games out of first place.

August[edit]

On August 9th, the Blue Jays defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-2 in front of 23,450 fans at Exhibition Stadium, as the franchise broke the Major League record for attendance by an expansion team in a season.

It was another tough month for the ballclub, as Toronto went 10-18 during August, and a record of 45-84 during the season, 32.5 games out of first place. The Blue Jays lost their last five games in August.

September/October[edit]

Toronto began September with six losses in a row, bringing their overall losing streak to 11 games, before defeating the Boston Red Sox 3-2 on September 7th.

On September 10, Roy Howell drove in a club record nine runs in a 19-3 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. It also marked the Yankees worst lose at home in over 50 years.

On September 15, the Blue Jays earned a 9-0 forfeit victory over the Baltimore Orioles when Orioles manager Earl Weaver removed his club from the field in the fifth inning.[18]

The Blue Jays season came to a close on October 2nd, as Toronto split a double header against the Cleveland Indians in front of 27,789 fans at Exhibition Stadium, bringing the Blue Jays total attendance to 1,701,052, an MLB record for an expansion team.

Toronto finished the year in last place in the American League East with a 54-107 record, 45.5 games behind the first place New York Yankees. Toronto also finished 9.5 games worse than their expansion cousins, the Seattle Mariners, who had a 64-98 record.

Season standings[edit]

AL East W L GB Pct.
New York Yankees 100 62 -- .617
Baltimore Orioles 97 64 2.5 .602
Boston Red Sox 97 64 2.5 .602
Detroit Tigers 74 88 26 .457
Cleveland Indians 71 90 28.5 .441
Milwaukee Brewers 67 95 33 .414
Toronto Blue Jays 54 107 45.5 .327


Notable transactions[edit]

Roster[edit]

1977 Toronto Blue Jays
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders Manager

Coaches

Game log[edit]

1977 Game Log 54–107 (Home 25–55, Away 29–52)
  • † Game forfeited by Baltimore.

Player stats[edit]

Batting[edit]

Starters by position[edit]

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; 2B = Doubles; 3B = Triples; Avg = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen bases

Pos Player G AB R H 2B 3B Avg HR RBI SB
C Ashby, AlanAlan Ashby 124 396 25 83 16 3 .210 2 29 0
1B Ault, DougDoug Ault 129 445 44 109 22 3 .245 11 64 4
2B Staggs, SteveSteve Staggs 72 290 37 75 11 6 .259 2 28 5
3B Howell, RoyRoy Howell 96 364 41 115 17 1 .316 10 44 4
SS Torres, HéctorHéctor Torres 91 266 33 64 7 3 .241 5 26 1
LF Woods, AlAl Woods 122 440 58 125 17 4 .284 6 35 8
CF Woods, GaryGary Woods 60 227 21 49 9 1 .216 0 17 5
RF Vélez, OttoOtto Vélez 120 360 50 92 19 3 .256 16 62 4
DH Fairly, RonRon Fairly 132 458 60 128 24 2 .279 19 64 0

Other batters[edit]

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; 2B = Doubles; 3B = Triples; Avg = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen bases

Player G AB R H 2B 3B Avg HR RBI SB
Bailor, BobBob Bailor 122 496 62 154 21 5 .310 5 32 15
Rader, DougDoug Rader 96 313 47 75 18 2 .240 13 40 2
McKay, DaveDave McKay 95 274 18 54 4 3 .197 3 22 2
Ewing, SamSam Ewing 97 244 24 70 8 2 .287 4 34 1
Scott, JohnJohn Scott 79 233 26 56 9 0 .240 2 15 10
Bowling, SteveSteve Bowling 89 194 19 40 8 1 .206 1 13 2
Garcia, PedroPedro Garcia 41 130 10 27 10 1 .208 0 9 0
Cerone, RickRick Cerone 31 100 7 20 4 0 .200 1 10 0
Mason, JimJim Mason 22 79 10 13 3 0 .165 0 2 1
Nordbrook, TimTim Nordbrook 24 63 9 11 0 1 .175 0 1 1
Whitt, ErnieErnie Whitt 23 41 4 7 3 0 .171 0 6 0
Roof, PhilPhil Roof 3 5 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Pitching[edit]

Starting pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts

Player G GS IP W L ERA R ER BB K
Lemanczyk, DaveDave Lemanczyk 34 34 252 13 16 4.25 143 119 87 105
Garvin, JerryJerry Garvin 34 34 244.2 10 18 4.19 127 114 85 127
Jefferson, JesseJesse Jefferson 33 33 217 9 17 4.31 123 104 83 114
Byrd, JeffJeff Byrd 17 17 87.1 2 13 6.18 68 60 68 40
Clancy, JimJim Clancy 13 13 76.2 4 9 5.05 47 43 47 44
Singer, BillBill Singer 13 12 59.2 2 8 6.79 54 45 39 33
Hargan, SteveSteve Hargan 6 5 29.1 1 3 5.22 17 17 14 11
Darr, MikeMike Darr 1 1 1.1 0 1 33.75 5 5 4 1

Relief pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L SV ERA R ER BB K
Vuckovich, PetePete Vuckovich 53 148 7 7 8 3.47 64 57 59 123
Johnson, JerryJerry Johnson 43 86 2 4 5 4.60 50 44 54 54
Willis, MikeMike Willis 43 107.1 2 6 5 3.94 48 47 38 59
Murphy, TomTom Murphy 19 52 2 1 2 3.63 22 21 18 26
DeBarr, DennisDennis DeBarr 14 21.1 0 1 0 5.91 14 14 8 10
Bruno, TomTom Bruno 12 18.1 0 1 0 7.85 18 16 13 9
Hartenstein, ChuckChuck Hartenstein 13 27.1 0 2 0 6.59 22 20 6 15

Awards and honors[edit]

All-Star Game

Franchise firsts[edit]

Farm system[edit]

Level Team League Manager
Short-Season A Utica Blue Jays New York-Penn League Duane Larson

[22]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Phil Roof page at Baseball Reference
  2. ^ Rico Carty page at Baseball Reference
  3. ^ a b Jim Mason page at Baseball Reference
  4. ^ Al Fitzmorris page at Baseball Reference
  5. ^ Chuck Hartenstein page at Baseball-Reference
  6. ^ Rick Cerone page at Baseball Reference
  7. ^ Dave Roberts page at Baseball Reference
  8. ^ Ron Fairly page at Baseball Reference
  9. ^ John Lowenstein page at Baseball Reference
  10. ^ a b c Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, Stephen Brunt, p. 91, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-023978-2
  11. ^ Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 90
  12. ^ a b c d e f Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 94
  13. ^ a b Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 92
  14. ^ a b c d e Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 93
  15. ^ a b c d e Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 95
  16. ^ a b c d e Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 96
  17. ^ Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, p. 97
  18. ^ The Official Site of The Toronto Blue Jays: History: Blue Jays Timeline
  19. ^ Paul Hodgson page at Baseball Reference
  20. ^ Danny Ainge page at Baseball Reference
  21. ^ Blue Jays All-Stars | bluejays.com: History
  22. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd and 3rd editions. Durham, N.C.: Baseball America, 1997 and 2007

References[edit]