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A while back, as one of the projects I was working on while I was unemployed, I dived into old microfilm records and collected interesting Jays-related quotations from newspaper articles. (I hope someday to make a book out of them.) Here's some I collected from September, 1985. They're all from the Toronto Star.

One thing that struck me was how enthusiastic people were about the Jays. Reading these again is like watching one of those old educational films made in the 1950's: things were all so different then. (For those of you too young to remember: while Toronto cared passionately about its Jays in 1992 and 1993, the city was madly in love with the Jays in 1985, at least until Jim Sundberg's hit off Dave Stieb in Game 7 of the 1985 ALCS.)

Enjoy! (Hopefully, there aren't enough of these to violate the fair use guidelines.)

"It's time to pin some pictures up on the dartboard. Rickey Henderson (boo!), Don Mattingly (hiss!), Dave Winfield (gull-killer!) and Billy Martin (cowardly bar fighter) will do for starters." - Alison Gordon, Toronto Star, Sept 1 1985

"Remember that we are in a pennant race here: This is serious business. Remember the good guys on ourside. Remember that every home run Dave Winfield hits, every batter Guidry strikes out, has the potential of stealing food from Willie Upshaw's baby's mouth. Surely you can harden your heart for a month with those kinds of stakes. Do you want to take food from Willie Upshaw's baby's mouth? Boo. Boooo. BOOO!" - Alison Gordon on sympathizing with some of the nicer Yankees, Toronto Star, Sept 1 1985

"For the fans, it's time to climb aboard the big roller-coaster called Pennant Race. How are your nerves, anyway? Are you too old, too young, too jaded, too laid-back to enjoy the screaming highs and the pit-of-the-guts lows now that the carnival actually has come to our town? It might be years, you know, before it returns." - Garth Woolsey, Toronto Star, Sept 8 1985

"They can go out there and pitch or catch or hit the next day and really make a difference. I don't. All I can do is hope and cheer my sick little lungs out and send every ounce of good vibrations I've got in my soul towards the field, and even that doesn't work. Every time the Blue Jays lead drops another game, I line the razor blades up again." - Alison Gordon, Toronto Star, Sept 8 1985

"I've heard it said that when the pressure is on I don't want to play any more. That is garbage. These people who say that, they never believe a Latin can be hurt. When a Latin is hurt, they believe he's faking. (To them) we are made of iron. They think we must be constructed of steel and should never break down." - Damaso Garcia (quoted by Wayne Parrish), Toronto Star, Sept 9 1985

"While in successful times he often alludes to his faith in God as a born-again Christian, Fernandez takes his own failures very hard. He is not often in a good mood after making an error." - Wayne Parrish, Toronto Star, Sept 13 1985

"Not only did [Mary] O'Dowd not begin the words O Canada, the tune she sang bore no resemblance to the actual strains of Canada's national anthem. After several lines, foreign even to non-Canadian ears, uncertain silence on the part of the crowd gave way to a crescendo of boos. O'Dowd left the microphone behind home plate and walked 50 feet to the corner of the Yankee dugout, on which the words to O Canada were presumably written." - Wayne Parrish, on Mary O'Dowd's anthem troubles at Yankee Stadium, Toronto Star, Sept 15 1985

"...every so often a team comes along that seems somehow different from the rest. It responds to challenges. It's able to win just when it needs to most, to ward off pursuers just when it seems ripe to be caught.
"Some might attribute such to that old bugaboo, character. In truth, it probably has far less to do with that than it does with their skill levels and strategy. But whatever its roots, one thing is now clear - the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays are such a team." - Wayne Parrish, Toronto Star, Sept 17 1985

"You get a hit and then you get a dirty look like no way are you supposed to get a hit. It gets you pumped up and you like to beat that club, because everybody hates him." - Bill Buckner on Dave Stieb (quoted by Neil MacCarl), Toronto Star, Sept 18 1985

"Pitching greatness is doing whatever it takes to win. It requires an exceptional blend of talent, intelligence, guile and temperament. Stieb has the first quality. He also has the second. But he doesn't have the other two and it now seems possible that he will never acquire them, that the person he is will forever stand in the way of the pitcher he could be." - Wayne Parrish, Toronto Star, Sept 18 1985

"Play for Canada. Forget money. Try to forget you're American until the end of the season." - Star reader Mervyn Hoy gives advice to the Jays, Toronto Star, Sept 19 1985

"People may find it betters their relationship with their girlfriend or boyfriend, or improves their performance at work. The excitement created by something like Blue Jay fever can be very powerful in its over-all effect on a person's life." - psychologist Dr. Steven Berkowitz (quoted by Damien Cox), Toronto Star, Sept 20 1985

"This year, America's team is the Toronto Blue Jays. Forget the geography. The Blue Jays embody traditional American values - hard work, selflessness, teamwork and the absence of identifiable superstars." - Mike Bauman, Milwaukee Journal (quoted by Damien Cox, Toronto Star), Sept 20 1985
Blasts from the Past, Part 1 - Quotations from 1985 newspaper columns | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
robertdudek - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 08:21 PM EST (#93704) #
It's hilarious when someone says that a team like the '85 Jays had no identifiable superstars. If those same players had played in Boston and New York, then Tony Fernandez would have been what Jeter was in '96, and Dave Stieb, one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, would have been Roger Clemens circa 1988 or 1990.

They were unknown players (to the American sports media) BECAUSE of geography.
Gitz - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 11:28 PM EST (#93705) #
Tony Fernandez was a fine player, and Derek Jeter may be overrated, but those two trains don't meet. Jeter is the better player, period.
robertdudek - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 12:27 AM EST (#93706) #
Not Jeter 1996 versus Tony 1985, he wasn't. I still think, depending on how much of a defensive edge Tony (in his prime) has, there's a good case to be made for them being close to even (remember to adjust for era and all that). Tony was a helluva player.
_Sean - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 12:44 AM EST (#93707) #
Amen. I think 1985 was the first season I actually attended games at Exhibition Stadium, at age nine. Tony Fernandez impressed fans of all ages in that era. Given the development of more tools to measure defense, we may learn just how good Fernandez' peak was. Does anyone have his Win Shares data?
_Sean - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 12:46 AM EST (#93708) #
I meant to say 1983, or I'd have suddenly lost two years from my real age. My other observations and request for Fernandez' WS stands.
_Mick - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 12:47 AM EST (#93709) #
I ran some numbers -- very unlike me, really -- because my hunch was that Tony '85 was a better ballplayer than Derek '96 ... you be the judge.

Fernandez played in 161 games; Jeter in 157. Both very durable in what was, for both, their first full seasons as major league shortstops.

Fernandez displayed a decent power/speed combination -- 43 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 19 attempts. Jeter had 41 extra-base hits and was 14-for-21 in steals.

Fernandez's OPS was .730 fell just shy of the 1985 AL league OPS of .742; Jeter's OPS of .800 more or less matched the AL 1996 league OPS of .802. Along the same lines, Fernandez had 74 runs created to Jeter's 91 in a more offensively productive era.

In the field, Fernandez had 761 PO+A (putouts plus assists) and a fielding percentage of .962 (league average .964) while Jeter had 688 PO+A and a field percentage of .969 (.971 AL). The range factor is the most telling difference; Fernandez had a range factor of 4.76 to Jeter's 4.38 ... but the average range factor in 1996 was 4.19 while in 1985 it was 3.93. So Jeter was slightly better than average ... and Fernandez was elite. (Point of references: Ozzie Smith's 1985 range factor was 5.15

One final point of interest: through the age of 28, which is how old Jeter is now, the most similar players at that age (using's similarity scores) to Fernandez were Rod Carew and Lou Boudreau; the most similar to Jeter were Joe Sewell and Joe Cronin. Four Hall of Famers.

So I think at one point, those trains probably did meet.
Gitz - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 01:40 AM EST (#93710) #
Good analysis, all.

However, just like Yankees fans are biased toward Jeter, it's possible everyone here will be biased for Fernandez. Personally, I think Fernandez was a helluva player. Talk about making things look easy! I think that hurts him in the overall scheme.

I will always remember the near home run he hit to right-center against Randy Johnson in that $&$%(*##$ Game 5 in 1995. Carved five years off my life, that series did.
_Sean - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 03:01 AM EST (#93711) #
Thanks for your work, Mick. That is a good start for further discussion, and supports my initial suspicion that Fernandez's exceptional range is a significant positive factor in comparing him to Jeter.
_jason - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 03:38 AM EST (#93712) #
Did anyone see that crazy spring-training brawl involving Piazza? Personally, I think Piazza was more than justified charging the mound. You don't get to try and hit the hitter twice in the same bat without expecting something. Plus, after the whole Clemens thing I'd be a little irritated if people were trying to throw at me.
_Jordan - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 06:59 AM EST (#93713) #
Dave, these are terrific quotes, and thanks for finding and posting them. What strikes me is not just the enthusiasm you mentioned, as well as the lack of Griffinesque cynicism, but also the shameless subjectivity of the writers. There was no question but that they were fans first and reporters second, giddy with excitement about the first-ever division-winning team. The last Toronto "sportswriter" who dispensed with journalistic distance like that was Rosie DiManno, circa 1992. I don't much like it, but I suppose I can't really blame them either: after watching this team labour in futility and obscurity for so long, I think the beat writers can be forgiven for a little flag-waving. And after all, as a friend of mine once noted, the '80s really were the last innocent decade.

It's also interesting that even during this euphoric time, Dave Stieb was taking a beating in the press. Now, this can probably be attributed at least partly to the old Reporter's Maxim, "Avenge yourself in print on players who treat you badly," since Stieb by most accounts really was a pill to be around. But I think there's both truth and profundity in the line, "the person he is will forever stand in the way of the pitcher he could be." Stieb really did make trouble for himself: glaring at fielders who made errors, failing to show opposing hitters respect, trying too hard to be perfect all the time. I don't know how many times I saw Stieb get 0-and-2 on a batter with two inhuman sliders, then hang a third straight slider and give up a rope into left field. A little more intelligence and a little less bravado and posturing on the mound, and he would have had those 20-win seasons he always wanted.

As for Fernandez, Mick's numbers are very illuminating, and I think offensively, he and Jeter are very close to a wash. But defensively, it was no contest: Fernandez was simply astounding. In addition to his amazing range and terrific glove, his arm was underrated: he could get more force behind an underhanded flip throw than you'd ever believe. I think two incidents kept Tony Fernandez from being a Hall of Famer: the takeout slide by Bill Madlock that fractured his arm when he landed freakishly on a seam in the Exhibition Stadium turf, and the Cecilio Guante fastball in the face that changed both his mood and his approach at the plate. Absolutely one of the most underappreciated players of his generation.
Coach - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 07:24 AM EST (#93714) #
Thanks for the memories, Dave. Some things never change:

The excitement created by something like Blue Jay fever can be very powerful in its over-all effect on a person's life.

The ascent of the Jays under Ricciardi, which indirectly led to Batter's Box, has been quite theraputic for me. I usually suffer from what the experts call O-SAD (Off-Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the winter.
Craig B - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 09:18 AM EST (#93715) #
Jason, the only point I would make is that a hitter is never justified in charging the mound... that's a bush league thing to do, worthy of hockey or something. The reason that baseball tightened the rules re throwing at players (which would have applied directly to Mota) was to avoid stuff like this.

Piazza's reaction was certainly *understandable*, though, especially given (as you point out) the fact that he seems to be thrown at a lot.

Mota running away was hilarious, though.
Dave Till - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 09:52 AM EST (#93716) #
Old-school baseball players never charged the mound. Instead, they bunted the ball down the first base line, waited for the pitcher to get there, and flattened him.

Or, in the pre-DH days, the team would wait until the pitcher came up to bat, and their pitcher would get in their payback then.

This reminds me of an incident from, I think, 1991. The Jays were playing the Tigers, and Bill Gullickson was pitching for Detroit. The first two Jays up, White and Alomar, hit home runs. The next batter up was Carter; Gullickson, now visibly angry, threw his second pitch to Joe behind his head. This, as most of you know, is the most dangerous place to pitch, as the batter's instinct is to duck out of the way. The ball hit Carter on the helmet; fortunately, he was uninjured. Carter was about to charge the mound, but had the presence of mind to stop and appeal to the umpire, who promptly threw Gullickson out of the game.
_Mick - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 10:45 AM EST (#93717) #
Um, not to question Carter's intelligence, but if a pitcher starts the game HR-HR-HBP, why would you want him tossed?

Gullickson was one of my favorite players when he was active, by the way. The all-time leading winning pitcher and only one to win 20 games among diagnosed insulin-dependent diabetics. How's that for an obscure stat? (Available only to subscribers of Diabetes Forecast, I suspect.)

We also love former Vikings QB Wade Wilson, former New Jersey Nets bricklayer Chris Dudley and NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke.

Do I win today's award for hardest left turn in hijacking a thread?
_Jordan - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 11:09 AM EST (#93718) #
Um, not to question Carter's intelligence, but if a pitcher starts the game HR-HR-HBP, why would you want him tossed?

Mick, the incident at the time provided more detail. Gully was already going to be tossed -- he couldn't have been more clear in his intentions, and he knew he was gone the second the pitch left his hand. By not charging the mound, however, Carter was ensuring that he didn't get thrown out of the game as well, and possibly risking a suspension at a critical point in the race. I actually think it took a fair bit of clear thinking on Carter's part, something I probably would've been short on if a fastball had just come at my ear.

I liked Gullickson too, up to that point anyway, and admired his making it in the big leagues with his condition. But he was also, probably without exception, one of the ugliest guys to wear a baseball uniform in that era. His head looked like someone draped a rubber mask over a brick.
_Harry Heatherin - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 01:10 PM EST (#93719) #
"One thing that struck me was how enthusiastic people were about the Jays"

Absolutely, Dave. In 1985, I was 24, still a newlywed, working a safe but boring civil service job, and totally gonzo about the Jays.

I had been a relative newcomer to baseball fandom - 1980, to be precise - in large part owing to the bad influence of Mr. Till and several other friends of ours who still all belong to the same NL-only roto league (The Phoenix League, founded 1984). From opening day In 1985 I kept a detailed, hand-written log iat my desk at work, listing date, opponent, score, win/lose, winning pitcher and games back. I had never done that before, I never did it again -- somehow I just knew 1985 - and the 1985 edition of our Blue Jays - would be special.

Heck, I quit smoking in April of '85 but the pennant pressure was driving me berserk, and I started again in early September - I quit again with the last out of the Series that year (and stayed quit for 13 years, but that's another story). Good times, and a level of engagement in the team and the sport I have not felt since. Maybe in 2004 ...?

And here's hoping you get that book done, Dave - I'll buy it. Put it right next to your OTHER one.
Blasts from the Past, Part 1 - Quotations from 1985 newspaper columns | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.