There isn’t much for Blue Jays news. The rumor of the day seems to be that the team is talking to Masahiro Tanaka. And the Red Sox and Yankees made a trade. The Red Sox are getting Adam Ottavino.
I always hope that saying “there is no Jays’ news” will spur the universe to give us some Jays news.
So I thought I’d ask you all: How did you become a Blue Jay fan?
I’m always curious about how people come to baseball as their sport to watch, especially in this country, where hockey isn’t just a sport. And, of course, after choosing baseball, how did you come upon the Jays has your team.
For me: I’ve liked baseball for as long as I can remember. Maybe part of it was the math. I always like numbers. But most of it, I think, was the situation. The anticipation. Runner on first, will he steal, will they bunt (please no). Bases loaded, how are we going to get out of this.
Then there was my Expos. I owe a lot of my love of the game to Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Steve Rogers, Al Oliver, and the TV people, Dave Van Horne, Duke Snider, and, later, Ken Singleton. I liked Duke Snider as the analyst. He had an excellent way of explaining the game to those of us just learning. I’m sure, if I could go back and listen now, I’d complain about how much wrong information he gave out, but, at the time, he seemed great. I didn’t know he was a Hall of Fame center fielder until much later. And Dave Van Horne had a nice way of calling the games. It was easy to become a fan.
The Expos taught me the fun of watching prospects come up to the majors and grow as players. They also taught me how baseball could be the saddest game on earth. Steve Rogers giving up the home run in the top of the 9th, in game 5 of the 1981 National League Championship, was the worst moment of my baseball life.
Then Bill James started writing his Baseball Abstracts, and it made me more of a baseball fan. It is hard to explain how much of a game-changer Bill James was. Back then, all the stats you got were batting average, home runs, and RBI. For pitchers, it was won/loss, ERA, and saves. Bill James showed us things that were never thought of, even something as simple as on-base percentage. The first time I (or really anyone) saw batting splits against left-handed and right-handed hitters was in the Bill James Baseball Abstract. It was a big deal, at least to me. I learned so much more about the game. And, he made you think you were part of a special club that understood baseball in a way that most people didn’t.
Around the same time, the Blue Jays were, finally, starting to put together a good, young team. You could watch young players with potential. In the early 80’s they had the best outfield in baseball, with George Bell, Lloyd Moesby, and Jesse Barfield. Tony Fernandez was a young and flashy shortstop. I don’t think there was ever a pitcher I liked to watch more than Dave Stieb. I was a big fan of Ernie Whitt and Rance Mulliniks.
Watching young players develop has always been my favorite part of following baseball.
In 1985 they made the playoffs. From then forward, I was a Blue Jays fan.
I’ve had moments when I was an ‘anyone but the Yankees fan’. I was happy anytime anyone beat them. And, as much as MLB tried to kill off any love I had for the Expos, I continued to be a fan. Then MLB finally killed them.
Through the good and bad (and there has been a lot of bad), I’ve been a Blue Jays fan, even when I couldn’t understand what Gord Ash/JP Ricciardi was trying to do with the team.