Garth Iorg turns 63 today. He played with the Jays from 1978 to 1987.
Garth Iorg was born on October 12, 1954 in Arcata, California. He was drafted in the 8th round of the 1982 amateur draft by the New York Yankees. The Jays picked him in the 1976 expansion draft. He played for the Jays for 9 seasons batting .258/.282/.347 with a big 20 home runs in 931 games played.
Garth truly wasn’t a great player, he came to up to the Jays as a second baseman and hit like a 2B, with no power, few walks and no speed (23 career stolen bases). He is best known as the right handed half of the "Mullinorg" platoon third base tandem. Mulliniks was clearly the better player of that pair. Iorg only had one good season, 1985 batting .313/.358/.469 with 7 homeruns in 288 at bats. That was Toronto’s first season to make the playoffs, losing in 7 games in the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals. Garth wasn’t much help that series hitting .133/.188/.133 in 15 at bats. Other than that season, even though he was batting mostly against left-handers he was never great.
At the time the Jays used a platoon system at three positions 3B, C, and DH. One of the changes in baseball in the last few years is that with the clubs carrying more pitchers is that it is harder to platoon at more than one position.
Garth came up to the Jays in the 1978 season and played 19 games mostly at second base. The Jays were a terrible team then, finishing 59-102 and Garth wasn’t any better batting .163/.218./163. He stayed in the minors for all of 1979. In 1980 he played 80 games as a utility player for a team that wasn’t much improved. He played 2B, 3B, LF, 1B and SS and hit .248/.286/.329.
In the strike season of 1981 Iorg played 46 games at 2B filling in for an injured Damaso Garcia and a handful of games at 3B and hit even worse .242/.269/.293. With the arrival of Bobby Cox, the 1982 season saw the start of the Mullinorg seasons. Playing 100 in games at 3B and 30 at 2B he had his best season to this point batting .285/.307/.365 and the Jays as a team started getting better finishing 78-84, with some of their future stars in place.
In 83 the Jays had their first above .500 finish, 89-73 finishing 4th in the AL East. Garth hit as empty a .275 you could imagine with a .298 on base and .376 slugging. In 1984 we finished 2nd in the East but 15 games behind the Detroit Tigers who went on to win the World Series. Iorg had a terrible year at the plate .227/.244/.304 and really Rance should have been the full time 3B. In 1985 he had his good season, mentioned above.
In 86 we fell back to the middle of the pack in the AL East and Iorg fell back as a batter too batting 260/.303/.352. Kelly Gruber was called up this season and started pushing Garth out of the 3B platoon. Jimy Williams starting using him at 2B, since Damaso Garcia was wearing out his welcome in Toronto.
In 1987 Garth was our nominal regular second baseman. He was terrible, batting .210/.262/.284. The season was also terrible, we were swept in Detroit in the final series of the year to allow them to pass us for first place. Toronto lost their last 7 games that season. Iorg was the final out of the final game in Detroit with the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
That was Garth’s last at bat with the Jays, he was a free agent after that and didn’t draw any interest from any major league team. He played his entire major league career with the Jays.
After the end of his playing career, Garth went into coaching; he managed at every minor league level in the Toronto Blue Jays system. He also worked for the Sosnick Cobb Sports Agency and was agent for a handful of young players. He worked as a roving instructor for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has three sons, each of whom was drafted by major league teams. He is the brother of former major leaguer Dane Iorg.
Garth is remembered for his strange batting stance, Wikipedia explains it as being on the toes of his front foot leaning back towards the catcher as the pitch was being thrown. Rance’s two word explanation is likely as good as anyone’s: "it’s unique."
Happy Birthday Garth. I hope it is a good one.