The other day I got to wondering about who were the last players born in each decade to suit up for the Blue Jays. I thought it would make an interesting post, and since gathering the data was easy it expanded it to every year.
With the franchise only inaugurated in 1977, there was very limited opportunity for players born in the 1930s to suit up for the Jays. Nonetheless, there were two. Ron Fairly is the earliest born Blue Jays player ever (1938). But Rico Carty (1939) came along for the 1978 and 1979 seasons.
Fun fact: despite having the players born in 1938-39 above, no player born in the year 1940 ever played for the Jays. In fact, there’s hardly any representation for the first half of the 1940s, and only a couple after the initial expansion season. It only really picks up with the Baby Boomers.
The last player born in the 1940s with the Jays is 1949’s Doug Bair, a free agent signee for 1988. Just as well, as otherwise it would have been fellow 1949 birth Gary Lavelle, who is...not fondly remembered.
The veterans that made up the core of the Glory Years were born mostly in the 1950s and heavily populate this list.
But in the end, the two last guys standing were in 1998. Dave Stieb pitched in the third last game of 1998, whereas Juan Samuel pinch ran in the second last which would technically make him the last. However, Stieb caught the home run ball in the bullpen hit by Bobby Higginson to break up Roy Halladay’s no hitter in the last game of the season. So let’s give it to him.
1961 is a really weird birth year for the franchise. Jimmy Key was just 31 (heading into his age 32 season) when he signed with the Yankees after the 1992 season. That should have given plenty of opportunity for another player born in 1961 to join the Jays, but it never happened. The Jays had players born in the previous two years as late as 1998, and in the next two years until 2000 and 2002 (a decade longer!).
The last Blue Jay from the 1960s? Future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel. The next latest born in Canada’s centennial year? Matt Whiteside in 2005, seven years before. 1961 and 1967 were six years apart - the last Jays born in those years played 20 years apart.
Here we get more contemporary, with Jason Grilli having donned the uniform as recently as nine months ago. The ill-fated machinations of 2013 brought in many veterans, such that half the birth years in this decade were last represented in that year.
Again, a couple of them came far after the next closest player. For 1970, before Darren Oliver in 2012-13, it was Royce Clayton in 2007. For 1972, before LaTroy Hawkins in 1970 it was Armando Benitez (ever so briefly) seven years before in 2008.
Will Grilli be the last player from the 1970s for the Jays? I think it’s more likelier than not at this point, considering how few such players are even active (R.A. Dickey reunion anyone?).
The Present: 1980/90s
Now the territory where almost across the board we haven’t seen the last players born in a given year. The possible exception might be 1980 and Jose Bautista. Craig Breslow was born in 1980, the only such player under contract. When Curtis Granderson takes the field, he’ll takeover 1981. After that, there was a player for every year until 1993 who played last year, and figures to as well in 2018. Except for...
Let’s finish by discussing how awful the 1988 birth year has been for the Jays. Since Ryan Goins was non-tendered, the Jays haven’t even had a player in the 40-man born in that year, remarkable given that 30 is the tail end of most player’s peaks. Travis Snider was the first 1988, exploding to the scene in 2008 at age 20, but that didn’t end well. He was the only one until 2012, when Sam Dyson was imprudently rushed up and out of the organization. Snider’s trade was followed by Moises Sierra debuting, to little consequential effect.
Those were it until 2015, and it’s been a real list of Blue Jays luminaries since: Ben Revere, Arnold Leon, Jimmy Paredes, Brett Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, Chris Smith and Nick Tepesch. Odds are at some point in the next five years the Jays will have a decent player born in 1988, but the clock is ticking and...yeesh.
Will Jose Bautista be the last Blue Jay born in 1980?
This poll is closed