Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Inaugurals: Bill Singer

So, I suppose if I was really going to do this properly, then the inaugural Inaugurals post would speak about the first player ever to be named to the Blue Jays roster.  Or, I'd consider speaking about Roy Hartsfield as the first Manager.  Sorry to disappoint the idealists out there, but that's not how this is going to start.  Don't read this as a slight to any of the work -- or the people doing the work -- in preparation of fielding a team, but for me, it really all comes down to game time.  All that hard work, all the negotiating, all the hiring and organizing and whatever else goes on behind closed doors, and even the workouts and infield drills and batting practice culminates in a game being played.  And that first game doesn't start until the fist pitch is thrown.  By Bill Singer.

And so it begins.  The first in a series, that, I suppose, will eventually consist of 27 posts (assuming I am able to accomplish my goal) discussing each of the players featured in O-Pee-Chee's inaugural Toronto Blue Jays team set.

Of course, now we have to make a decision.  Do we want to speak about the first pitch of the Blue Jays first Spring training game, or the first pitch of the Blue Jays first regular season game?  The convenient thing about that is that it doesn't matter what your answer is.  Either way, my answer is Bill Singer.

On March 11, 1977 the Blue Jays hosted the New York Mets in Dunedin, where Bill Singer faced Jerry Koosman.  According to this post, only 1988 witnessed the game, in which, the Blue Jays defeated the Mets 3-1.  The game didn't start off so well, with leadoff hitter Lee Mazilli taking Singer deep for an early 1-0 lead.  The Jays would come back in the fifth to tie the game, and go ahead on a 2-run double in the 8th by Sam Ewing.

As for the regular season opener, that was April 7, 1977 at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium.  Once again, Bill Singer got the start, this time against the Chicago White Sox.  And once again, Singer gave up a first inning home run (according to http://www.retrosheet.org).  After a rough second inning, Singer would settle down and pitch into the 5th, where the bullpen would take over.

Image courtesy of BlueJayHunter.com
The Jays eventually won this game 9-5, but the most interesting story of the day may actually have been the weather.  It seems fitting that baseball would be welcomed to Canada by way of a snowfall, though I can't imagine it was overly fun to play in.  Until this year, I found it hard to imagine snowfall impacting a regular season MLB baseball game, but with the winter we had -- and seeing what happened not so long ago when a Blue Jays game in Minnesota was snowed-out, I can fully understand it!


Anyway, back to Bill Singer.  The man to throw out the first pitch in Toronto's inaugural Spring training game and their inaugural regular season game would pitch his way to a 2-8 record (in 12 starts) before being shut down in mid-July for the remainder of the season.  He missed the entire 1978 season and was released in December of that year.  Bill Singer retired as player and went on to work with various clubs in scouting and consulting roles.

So the man who now holds the distinction of throwing the first pitch(es) in a Blue Jays game had a very short tenure with the team.   According to numerous sources, had Pat Gillick had his way, Singer's tenure would have been even shorter.  As stated on torontoist.com:

Amongst the veterans, the most well-known player was likely Bill Singer, a two-time all-star and 20-game winner, coming off a down season in 1976 and hoping to reestablish himself. Team executive Pat Gillick, to whom Bavasi had delegated many of the decisions concerning player personnel, wanted to pursue an offer by the New York Yankees to acquire Singer in exchange for a pitching prospect named Ron Guidry. Bavasi vetoed the deal, believing Singer to be one of the few known names on the club and thus desirable from a marketing perspective. Singer’s major league career would be finished after the 1977 season, whereas Guidry would go on to win 170 games for the Yankees and appear in four all-star games.
But that, as they say, is the beauty of hindsight.  The only thing can be said now is that Bill Singer, in the context of The Inaugurals, owns the distinction of having thrown out the first pitch for the Blue Jays in Spring training and in the regular season.  And that's all there is to it.

Thanks for reading!

Richard.
 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story about the Singer/Guidry connection, I never knew about that. Looking forward to the remainder of the '77 OPC posts!

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