Monday, August 8, 2016

I Love the 80s : The 1981 Toronto Blue Jays

By 1980, the Blue Jays were eager to shed their "expansion franchise" label. The team was starting to gain experience for their younger players - Alfredo Griffin, Lloyd Moseby, Danny Ainge, Damaso Garcia, Jim Clancy, Dave Steib, and Luis Leal - all under the age of 25. Veterans like John Mayberry and Otto Velez provided leadership and offense. The team struggled to win games, however, finishing in 7th place in the AL East. 1981 continued the youth movement with a pair of 21 year old outfielders, Jesse Barfield and George Bell. It would be a few more years before the team would be in contention for the playoffs, but the building blocks were starting to fall into place.

Here are the cards!
 and the backs:

Donruss #149 Alfredo Griffin - Griffin led the Blue Jays in stolen bases and had 15 Triples in 1980. The 22 year old was the starting Short Stop for the Jays, and though he hit poorly all season, he dazzled with speed and defense at a young age. 1981 saw similar offensive deficiencies, and he continued to be caught stealing more often than he was successful. He made the 1984 All-Star team, and is a three time World Champion, once with the Dodgers in 1988, then returning to Toronto as a bench player for their back to back wins in the early 90s to close out his career.

Topps Traded #727 Danny Ainge - Ainge made one All-Star team, and despite a late start was a regular for more than seven seasons - he was known for going deep along with solid defense. He was a 2 time world champion and then moved on the the front office following his playing career. Oh- that was his basketball biography.

O-Pee-Chee #52 Lloyd Moseby - At the tender age of 20, Moseby played 114 games for the Jays, and became their regular Center Fielder. It took some time for him to develop, but he became a solid part of Toronto's lineup in the 80s. He would average 17 homers, 29 steals, and 75 RBI over the course of his career, making the All-Star team in 1986.

Fleer #412 Jim Clancy - It wasn't always the prettiest record, but Jim Clancy ate serious innings for the Blue Jays in the 80s. He tossed 250 innings in 1980 as a 24 year old,  while leading the AL in walks allowed. His control improved, and he tossed 200+ innings 5 times in the next 7 seasons. He represented the Blue Jays in the 1982 All-Star Game.

Donruss #569 Danny Ainge - The Blue Jays believed in the potential of 6'4" Danny Ainge to be a force in the lineup and at the hot corner. They were willing to take their lumps and give Ainge a starting role while he developed so he would stick to baseball. He was named to the 1979 Topps All-Star Rookie Team as a third baseman. The playing time in 1980 and 1981 was all Danny needed to decide that baseball was not his best sport, batting just .187 in his final season for the Jays. The Boston Celtics purchased his contract from the Jays, and the rest is history.

Fleer #423 Garth Iorg - Having Iorg around came in very handy for the Jays once Ainge left for the NBA, slotting in as the new third baseman in 1982. He was essentially league average from 1982 to 1987, providing a bridge to Kelly Gruber. In 1980 and 1981, Iorg was a backup infielder and role player.

O-Pee-Chee #165 Alvis Woods - Al Woods hit a career high .300 in 1980, and by 81 found himself in a crowded outfield of guys 5 years his junior. Woods was picked by the Blue Jays in the expansion draft in 1976 from the Twins. His first MLB at bat was a pinch hit home run.

Fleer #417 Roy Howell - Howell was one of the first players the Blue Jays acquired via trade, coming over from the Rangers in May of 1977 for a pair of players and cash. He became an All-Star in 1978, and was the regular third baseman for the Jays until the job was handed to Danny Ainge. Following the 1980 season, Howell was a free agent and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Donruss #582 Dave Steib - If there's a Mr. Blue Jay from the 1980s, there's no better candidate than Dave Steib. He won 175 games in a Blue Jay uniform, was a 7 time All-Star, won the ERA title in 1985, and had a reputation for pitching inside. He led the AL five times in batters hit by pitch. From 1982 through 1985, few pitchers were close to him, amassing nearly 30 Wins above replacement in that span.


  1. Moseby ain't standing for this picture taking sh*t.

  2. Never put 2 and 2 together with Danny Ainge until reading this. Thanks for the history lesson!

  3. Dave Stieb is probably my favorite Blue Jay of all-time. I've even considered building a master collection of him... but I already collect way too many things.