The year was 1968 and the city of Toronto was without a professional baseball team, that’s right there was no Blue Jays. For many years the minor league Toronto Maple Leafs had been a beloved part of the city’s identity. But after the 1967 season, the Maple Leafs had been sold and relocated to Louisville. The city was distraught. With the Maple Leafs gone, Toronto turned its attention toward getting a Major League Baseball franchise.
Fast forward to January 10, 1976. The streets of Toronto were abuzz with the news of the San Francisco Giants relocating to their city. The deal was all but done with just a few details to be ironed out. A consortium led by Labatt Breweries had given the Giants board of directors an offer and they had accepted. The city waited as the excitement built. And then in early March, it was announced that the Giants were staying in San Francisco. The deal had fallen through due to a last-minute offer from San Francisco businessman, Bob Lurie. As a result, the city was once again left with no high-level baseball.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Labatt Brewing Company, the largest brewer in Canada, wasn’t going to go quietly into the darkness. They were determined to bring Major League baseball to Toronto and in 1977 they got the chance. The American League decided to expand and offered baseball-hungry Toronto a franchise. The Labatt consortium jumped at the offer and outbid all others, bringing professional baseball to the city for the first time in nearly ten years. Bettors such as the ones who have used Canadian online betting guide OddsNinja more recently must have had a field-day.
The city was elated. Finally, they had gotten their team, but what to call it? Surely the Toronto Giants wouldn’t work. After a multitude of suggestions and a vote, the name “Blue Jays” was chosen. Following the naming contest, there was an expansion draft in which the Toronto Blue Jays, along with the other expansion team the Seattle Mariners, selected 30 players. The team was set, the city was excited, and now it was time to get down to baseball.
April 7, 1977, wasn’t the ideal day to start a baseball season in Toronto. That being said, it surely wasn’t a great day for the Blue Jays’ first-ever game. Although it was Canada and the U.S. was expecting snow and that’s what they got. It was 32 degrees F, windy, and there was a picturesque blanket of snow. So, out came the Zamboni and the squeegees to push off the excess water, and by game time the field was ready for play.
The Blue Jays ended up winning 9-5 over the Chicago White Sox in what turned out to be, not surprisingly, a bit of a messy game. With the Jays racking up 16 hits led by Doug Ault who had two home runs and second baseman Pedro Garcia who had two singles and a double. The pitching was lackluster given the conditions. And in a time when starting pitchers lasted most of the game, the boxscore reads almost like it happened yesterday, with the Sox and Jays having a combined seven pitchers.
And while the conditions weren’t ideal and Exhibition Stadium, the Canadian Football League home of the Toronto Argonauts, wasn’t the greatest fit for baseball, Major League Baseball had finally made its way to Toronto. Now in their 45th season, the Blue Jays have two AL Pennants (1992, 1993), two World Series victories (1992, 1993), and a slew of talented ballplayers including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Marcus Semien. And while the beginning of MLB in Toronto may have been stormy the future of baseball in Big Smoke looks bright.
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