It may be hard to believe it with much of North America still fighting rain and snow and cold temperatures, but the Major League Baseball regular season is set to begin this Thursday! For most of us in Canada, that means Blue Jays baseball. It's exciting to know that very soon we'll be able to cheer on Canada's team live, from the Dome, the bar, or at home. And hopefully Mother Nature will get the hint and bring out the sunshine right quick, as nothing goes along with baseball quite as well as a bright, blue-skied day.
Because of this, we often forget that in Toronto for the Jays' first ever game, it snowed. Yes, on April 7, 1977 there was a snowstorm. How typically Canadian. And the Jays didn't have the shelter of the Rogers Centre roof – at that time they played in the more rustic, open-air Exhibition Park off of Lake Ontario. A decent layer of snow covered the field, making it seem more the site of some Winter Olympic event than a baseball game. Some of the players went around with catchers' pads as show-shoes and bats as ski poles, allowing for one of the best game-day photos ever:
The game was not called, of course – this was Canada, a little snow was nothing to fret over. A Zamboni-like snowblower cleaned up the field and things got underway. The Jays would win the franchise/season opener 9-5 over the visiting Chicago White Sox in front of 44,649 intrepid fans. First baseman Doug Ault would be the hero of the day, knocking in four runs and scoring two himself. It would be one of few high points for the Jays that season as they went on to lose 107 games. Still, it's always nice to win your first – especially when you've faced three hours and twenty-two minutes of single digit, snowy weather!
Flying forward to last season, the Jays had a much nicer start in terms of the elements, but on the field their form was disastrous; they would get off to a 1-9 start over their first ten games, the worst in franchise history. Yes, worse than what the 107-loss baby birds of '77 could manage. Behind the ball from the start, the Jays could not get over the .500 hump at any point last year and missed the postseason. The roster hasn't changed too much going into this season, apart from the departure of face-of-the-franchise Jose Bautista, so it remains to be seen whether the club can take flight in 2018.
2015 and 2016 were happy days for the Jays as they made it within a couple of games of the World Series both seasons, so that will be the goal this time around, to get back to the postseason and make some noise. But no matter what happens this year one thing is for sure: there will never be another game like that of April 7, 1977.