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.
- 1 Offseason
- 2 Regular season
- 3 Player stats
- 4 Awards and honors
- 5 Farm system
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- October 21, 1976: The Blue Jays traded a player to be named later to the Chicago White Sox for Phil Roof. The Blue Jays completed the deal by sending Larry Anderson to the White Sox on January 5, 1977.
- November 5, 1976: 1976 Major League Baseball expansion draft
- November 5, 1976: Al Fitzmorris was traded by the Blue Jays to the Cleveland Indians for Alan Ashby and Doug Howard.
- November 5, 1976: Chuck Hartenstein was purchased by the Blue Jays from the San Diego Padres.
- December 6, 1976: Rico Carty was traded by the Blue Jays to the Cleveland Indians for Rick Cerone and John Lowenstein.
- February 17, 1977: Dave Roberts was traded by the Blue Jays to the San Diego Padres for Jerry Johnson.
- February 24, 1977: Mike Weathers (minors) was traded by the Blue Jays to the Oakland Athletics for Ron Fairly.
- March 29, 1977: John Lowenstein was traded by the Blue Jays to the Cleveland Indians for Héctor Torres.
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. 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. Blue Jays president Peter Bavasi vetoed the deal as Singer was part of his plan to market and promote the team.
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. Notables in attendance that day included Paul Godfrey, Toronto mayor David Crombie, legendary broadcaster Foster Hewitt, and country singer Anne Murray. 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. 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.
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. The fans chanted "We want beer", because Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium was the only stadium in the major leagues to not serve beer.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. Heading into the fourth inning, Toronto got the lead as Dave McKay singled in García from second base.
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. 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. 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. With Otto Vélez on the basepads, Woods homered to right field. 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. 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. 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. The Jays won their first game in franchise history. Jerry Johnson picked up the win while Vuckovich got the save.
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. Doug Ault was back in the minors in 1979.
April 7, Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, Ontario
|W: Jerry Johnson (1–0) L: Ken Brett (0–1)|
|HRs: Doug Ault (2), Alvis Woods (1), Richie Zisk (1)|
|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|
|Chicago White Sox||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO|
|Brett, L (0–1)||3.0||9||5||5||0||4|
|Toronto Blue Jays||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO|
|Johnson W (1–0)||2.2||3||1||1||3||1|
|Vuckovich, SV (1)||2.0||1||0||0||1||3|
- 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.
- 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.
|New York Yankees||100||62||--||.617|
|Boston Red Sox||97||64||2.5||.602|
|Toronto Blue Jays||54||107||45.5||.327|
- April 14, 1977: Paul Hodgson was signed as an amateur free agent by the Blue Jays.
- May 9, 1977: Steve Hargan and Jim Mason were traded by the Blue Jays to the Texas Rangers for Roy Howell.
- June 7, 1977: Future NBA star Danny Ainge was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 1977 Major League Baseball Draft.
|1977 Toronto Blue Jays|
|1977 Game Log 54–107 (Home 25–55, Away 29–52)|
April 10–11 (Home 6–4, Away 4–7)
May 8–17 (Home 5–10, Away 3–7)
June 10–17 (Home 3–9, Away 7–8)
July 7–21 (Home 5–10, Away 2–11)
August 10–18 (Home 3–8, Away 7–10)
September 8–22 (Home 2–13, Away 6–9)
October 1–1 (Home 1–1, Away 0–0)
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
|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|
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
|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|
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
|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|
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
|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
- April 7, 1977:
- Grand Slam: June 27, 1977: Héctor Torres vs. New York (AL)
- Walk Off Win: July 15, 1977: Toronto 8, Detroit 6 (13 innings)
|Short-Season A||Utica Blue Jays||New York-Penn League||Duane Larson|
- 1977 Toronto Blue Jays team page at Baseball Reference
- 1977 Toronto Blue Jays team page at www.baseball-almanac.com