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1977 Toronto Blue Jays season

 

1977 Toronto Blue Jays season

The 1977 Toronto Blue Jays season was the first year of Major League Baseball played by the Toronto-based expansion franchise, which was established from the 1977 Major League Baseball expansion. 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

Spring training

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

The first game

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

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

Batting
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
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

Other highlights

  • June 27: Yankees starter Ron Guidry was carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning when he walked the bases loaded, then gave up a grand slam to light hitting Héctor Torres.
  • August 9: The Jays defeated the Minnesota Twins 6–2 in front of a home crowd, breaking the old expansion team first-year attendance record. Their record setting grand total was 1,701,052.
  • September 10: Roy Howell drove in a franchise record 9 runs as the Jays pound the New York Yankees 19–3, giving them their worst home beating in over 50 years. Howell registered 454 career RBIs in an eleven-year career that began with Texas in 1974 and ended in Milwaukee.
  • September 15: The Blue Jays were awarded a 9–0 forfeit win over Baltimore Orioles, as Orioles' manager Earl Weaver removed the team from field in the fifth inning.[18]

Lows

  • July 4: The Boston Red Sox set a major league record by hitting seven solo home runs off Blue Jay pitching.
  • The team finished 45.5 games out of first, 9.5 games worse than expansion cousins Seattle.

Season standings

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

Roster

1977 Toronto Blue Jays
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders Manager

Coaches

Game log

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

Player stats

Batting

Starters by position

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

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

Starting pitchers

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

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

All-Star Game

Franchise firsts

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
Short-Season A Utica Blue Jays New York-Penn League Duane Larson
[22]

Notes

References

  • 1977 Toronto Blue Jays team page at Baseball Reference
  • 1977 Toronto Blue Jays team page at www.baseball-almanac.com
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