The Jays came out of the gate red hot and as late as May 10th held some possession of first place. For most contenders this would seem like small potatoes, but the Jays were only in their 4th season of existence and had owned the cellar during the previous 3. After sweeping a twin bill from the Chisox on June 18th the club found themselves back at the .500 mark, which was the latest point in any season that they had been there. Sure the team faded after that and eventually finished 36 games behind the eventual division winners, but this was a good first step to give hope to a fan base that wanted a winner, not an expansion novelty.
What made the fans so excited was the fact that a core of young players were starting to arrive on the major league level. This team was so young, their average age was 25. 31 year old John Mayberry (acquired from KC) hit 30 homers and drove in 82 runs. He was the oldest player on this team. The keystone combo of Damaso Garcia and Alfredo Griffin with 23 and 22 respectively and both could really pick it. They even had a 21 year old former All-American hoopster from Brigham Young University, named Danny Ainge, playing the outfield. This team had athletes.
As always, what derails a team in transition is their lack of pitching. The Jays finished 9th in pitching, which truly was a step up from where they were the previous 3 seasons, but it still wasn’t enough for them to compete. Jim Clancy (13-16, 3.30) was more often than not a hard luck loser and Dave Steib (12-15, 3.71), who was just 22, showed flashes of brilliance.
The foundation for the franchises ascension was set. It might be a slow and arduous process, but the building blocks were definitely there.
22 cards were added here to round out the set
There are definitely a few cards that I would love to redo in this set if I ever find better player photos. Some teams, especially those in smaller markets and during certain eras have a dearth of photos available for the more obscure players. This would apply to the late 70’s – early 80’s Jays. It would be nice to find a color photo of Mike Macha. It would have taken too much time and effort to colorize the B&W shot that I used. Head shots are much easier to colorize. I did a lot of airbrushing on the Jack Kucek card. I had to take a double take on it, because I wasn’t really sure if I did. Usually I can tell right off. The Doug Ault and Jackson Todd are also colorizations that I received from the OOTP gang via A.Y.