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Blue Jays headlines of the past: May 21


The Toronto Star's Pages of the Past archive provides a nice glimpse into the news headlines of the past. Here are a selection of Blue Jays-related headlines from some of the 37 May 21st's in franchise history.

1980: "Spoilsport Sox keep Jays second" -- Alison Gordon

The expansion Blue Jays had a great start in 1980. In the morning of May 21, they were in second place with a 19-14 record, just a half-game out of first with a players' strike imminent (the players had set a deadline for May 22). But they lost a squeeker to the Boston Red Sox 4-3. That would actually start a five-game losing streak, the first of six the team will suffer through the end of the season. The 1980 Blue Jays were 48-81 after this game and would finish the season in last place with a 67-95 record, 36 games behind the first place Yankees. The strike was postponed until 1981.

1985: "Jays' Key at his best" -- Allan Ryan

On May 20, 1985, Jimmy Key threw a beauty: nine innings of 101-pitch, four-hit, one-run ball to lower his ERA to 1.96 on the season. He beat Tom Seaver in front of 44,715 at Exhibition Stadium, then the second largest crowd ever for a home game. That makes sense, because the Blue Jays were cruising along with a 22-14 record atop the American League East standings. They would go on to win the division, but would lose in the ALCS.

1989: "Piniella IS interested in managing the Jays" -- Allan Ryan

Six days after Jimy Williams was fired as the Blue Jays manager, Cito Gaston still wore the word "interim" in front of his title, and the Blue Jays were actively searching for a permanent manager. One of the leading candidates was Lou Piniella, who was in broadcasting at the time after being fired as manager of the Yankees. He would go on to manage the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series championship in 1990. Other managerial candidates interviewed by the Blue Jays included White Sox first base coach Terry Bevington (he would later manage the Syracuse Chiefs and coach for the Blue Jays), and Syracuse Chiefs manager Bob Bailor.

1992: "Morris's taunts drive Twins batty" -- Jim Byers

The Blue Jays came back to win an 8-7 game against the Minnesota Twins in walkoff fashion, with Pat Borders singling in Kelly Gruber on a routine fly ball (the Twins were playing a five-man infield), but it was what happened during the game that was interesting. After Twins shortstop Greg Gagne hit a two-run homer to give Minnesota a 4-2 lead in the fourth, former Twin Jack Morris, sitting in the Jays dugout, started yelling at the home plate umpire that Gagne had corked his bat. Apparently Morris has a history of accusing others of cheating. Morris and the Jays suspected that something was going on because Gagne tended to throw his bat towards his dugout after his at bats.

Here are some quotes from Byers' piece:

Morris: "I thought [the Twins] were dickering with [Todd] Stottlemyre by having the umpire check the ball all the time, so I said 'Check the bat.'"

Umpire Larry Young: "I told [Morris] to knock it off but [Cito] Gaston said that the Blue Jays were yelling at Gagne, not at me. Gaston also said he wouldn't be surprised if Gagne was using a corked bat." And when he asked Gaston whether he'd like the bat to be checked, Young said: "he just walked away. I think if Cito had given it credence he would've protested before the at-bat, during the at-bat, or sometime after the hitter was at bat. I think the fact he didn't come out to protest led me to believe that he gave it no more credence than I did."

Gaston: "Oh, bull! What the hell was I doing out there [then]? He said he didn't hear me, what can I say?"

Oh, there was also a bench-clearing no-punch "brawl". In the bottom of the fourth, Twins pitcher Scott Erickson pitched behind Derek Bell after a Kelly Gruber homer, and Todd Stottlemyre started chirping at Erickson, the Twins started yelling back and, using Stottlemyre's words, "away we went." Stottlemyre stormed out of the dugout but was stopped by manager Cito Gaston, who according to Tom Slater, "grabbed him around the neck and held on."

1997: "Hentgen wins Cy-guy contest" -- Richard Griffin

Pat Hentgen, the winner of the 1996 Cy Young Award, was matched up against Andy Pettitte, the runner-up. Griffin wrote "Hentgen had to face the formidable Yankees lineup, while all Pettitte had to do was to retire a bunch of slump-ridden Blue Jays hitters. Not fair." Cy Hentgen rose to the occasion, though, and threw a five-hit shutout, striking out eight Bronx Bombers to extend his shutout streak to 39 innings. The difference was that Pettitte had given up two runs (only one earned), on a couple of singles by Joe Carter and Orlando Merced. At that point the Blue Jays were batting .241, good for last in the league. Today, the Blue Jays have a batting average of .243, 23rd in the league. However, the rotation headed by Clemens and Hentgen kept the 1997 team afloat, and the shutout brought the Jays within 1.5 games of the wild card spot.