Skydome/Rogers Centre is 30 years old today.
I have a story about the first game. 30 years ago, I was a much younger Blue Jays fan. The games, well some of the games, were on CTV and the first game played at Skydome on that channel. But, locally, they decided to join the game in progress, after the supper hour news. Now, you can imagine, I wasn’t happy. Anyway, finally the news ends and they switch to the game ‘in progress’.
But, instead of switching to the game ‘in progress’ they have to show us a half hour feature on the building of Skydome and a walk around the park, showing the many features of the modern ballpark (both hot and cold running water, popcorn left over from Exhibition stadium, stuff like that).
By the time we joined the game they were an hour and a half into it. I was less than pleased.
The Jays lost 5-3 to the Brewers. Jimmy Key threw a complete game, giving up 9 hits, throwing 141 pitches. Yep, 141 pitches in a game they lost. Cito wasn’t one for pitch counts. In Key’s next start, he only went 3 innings and allowed 5 earned.
Being fair to Cito, throwing 140+ pitches wasn’t very unusual back then and this was the only game that a Blue Jays starter threw 140+ that season. In 1989 there were 39 games where a pitcher went 140 or more pitches. 7 of those games where Nolan Ryan’s. Roger Clemens had 4 and Bobby Witt had 2, no other pitcher had more than one. Our old friend John Farrell threw 159 pitches against us, in a game where we beat Cleveland. In what I’m sure is a not a coincidence, 1989 was the last season he would throw more than 100 innings. The most pitches thrown in a game that year? Nolin Ryan had 164 pitches on September 12th in a game against the Royals. It wasn’t a complete game.
Our batting order was:
Junior Felix RF
Tony Fernandez SS
Kelly Gruber 3B
George Bell LF
Fred McGriff 1B
Lloyd Moseby CF
Ernie Whitt C
Rance Mulliniks DH
Nelson Liriano 2B
Bell and McGriff hit solo homers. Kelly Gruber went 2 for 4 with a double.
After the game we were 23-32, in 6th place in the AL East, 9 game back of the Orioles. But we’d go on a 76-41 run and win the division. That was the season where Jimy Williams was replaced by Cito Gaston after 36 games and a 12-14 record. The team went 77-49 under Cito.
We made a deadline trade for Mookie Wilson and he injected some energy into the team.
Share with us your memories about Skydome/Rogers Centre.
You might notice that there weren’t near as many condos back then.