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Jay Jackson is the third “Jay” to ever land on the Toronto Blue Jays’ 40-man roster

Jay Jackson #64 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day at the Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training facility on February 22, 2023 in Dunedin, Florida.
Buffalo Bisons reliever Jay Jackson
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Blue Jays conducted a pretty neat piece of business yesterday, re-signing reliever Jay Jackson to a major league contract after releasing him form his minor league deal earlier in the week.

Jackson, a 35-year-old veteran journeyman, twirled nine scoreless innings during spring training, fanning 13. Spring stats caveats notwithstanding it was impressive to see him throw 96 mph heaters and racking up whiffs. Jackson won’t be with Toronto to start the season but he will be anchoring the Buffalo Bisons bullpen instead, ready to step in when needed.

The Toronto Blue Jays Roster Tree Route Map is a subway map-like graphical depiction on how players on the 40-man roster were acquired.
The Toronto Blue Jays Roster Tree Route Map is a subway map-like graphical depiction on how players on the 40-man roster were acquired.
Minor Leaguer

When he gets called up, he will become the first “Jay” to ever play for the Toronto Blue Jays. There was Jayson Werth, Jayson Nix, and of course J.A. Happ, but Jackson will be the first guy to officially go by “Jay” to suit up for the big league club despite the many years of rumours about acquiring Jay Bruce.

Having signed a major league contract, Jackson is now on the 40-man roster on an optional assignment to triple-A. Although there hasn’t been any other “Jay”s to play for the major league Jays, two other “Jay”s have found their way onto the 40-man roster in the franchise’s 47 seasons.

RHP Jay Robertson

  • Added to 40-man roster: October 1979
  • Released: April 1982

Robertson, now 65, was the Blue Jays’ third round pick in the 1977 January Draft. In spring training 1978 he had a brief appearance in major league camp, facing Willie Stargell as his first batter (Stargell singled). He was added to the 40-man roster along with future major leaguers Paul Hodgson and Jesse Barfield after the 1979 season.

In 1980, the Toronto Star’s Alison Gordon wrote about his “off-the-wall disposition”, including how he wore a conehead around all spring training, “in the club house, out to dinner, shopping [and] for standing on the side of the road and waving at passing cars.”

“I went [to the store] with [the conehead] on, about 7:30 at night, to get some bread. WHen I got there, they were calling for security guards and everything,” Robertson told Gordon. “I bought my stuff and went back out. Then I found out the store had been robbed at 7:30 that morning.”

Back in the days where the major league Jays would play an in-season exhibition game against the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, a pitch slipped off of Robertson’s hand and nailed Toronto’s Bob Bailor in the wrist on a 3-1 pitch, landing Bailor on the disabled list for several weeks in the middle of season.

Robertson spent five seasons in the minor league system between 1977 and 1981, making it up as far as Syracuse before a final professional season with double-A Knoxville. He is now a special assistant to Mike Rizzo, the general manager of the Washington Nationals. Last year, Robertson was awarded the Phil Rizzo Scout of the Year Award by the Nats.

OF/C Jay Schroeder

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 8: Quarterback Jay Schroeder of the Washington football team looks on from the sideline during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium on November 8, 1987 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Quarterback Jay Schroeder of the Washington football team in 1987
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images
  • Added to 40-man roster: October 1981
  • Designated for assignment: June 1983

Football fans would know Jay Schroeder, now 61, as a quarterback who won Super Bowl XXII with the Washington NFL team, later QBing for the Los Angeles Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Arizona Cardinals. But Schroeder started his professional athletic career as a Blue Jays minor leaguer, selected third overall in the 1979 draft and given a $135,000 signing bonus. Schroeder had committed to play football for UCLA and reportedly declined a six-year three-year major league contract from the Blue Jays in order to be permitted to play for UCLA.

He struggled to hit in this four minor league seasons in the Jays system between 1980 and 1983, playing for the single-A Kinston Blue Jays. He was given his release in February 1984 when the Jays wanted him to convert to pitching. He quipped, “I want to be an athlete, not a pitcher.”

A year and a half later, the former Toronto Blue Jays prospect Schroeder would get his big break in the NFL when former Toronto Argonaut Joe Theismann had suffered a horrific career-ending big break of his right leg on a sack.

As a blond catcher, I wonder if Schroeder also played the piano.

Other “Jay”s who have played in the Blue Jays organization

These “Jay”s have played in the Blue Jays minor league system but never made it on to the 40-man roster:

  • Jay Loviglio, signed as a minor league free agent in 1984, retired after spring training
  • Jay Maldonado, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1992
  • Jay Veniard, drafted 1995
  • Jay Gibbons, drafted 1998, selected by the Orioles in the 2000 Rule 5 Draft
  • Jay Yennaco, acquired in the 1998 Mike Stanley trade

Many thanks to Matt W for his help on this research.