There was snow on the ground at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium and it was definitely a cold day to sit outdoors and watch a three-hour ballgame.
But the not-so-spring-like weather wasn’t going to stop the Blue Jays from taking flight on April 7, 1977, as they took on the Chicago White Sox in their first-ever Major League Baseball game.
More than 44,000 fans were in the stands at the stadium to see history be made, even if many were skeptical that the weather would permit that to happen.
The wrong place to play ball?
“Fifteen minutes prior to the start of the game, there was some question if Toronto had been a wise choice for the home of a new baseball franchise, all because of the weather — freezing temperatures and heavy snow showers, anything but characteristic for a traditional summertime sport,” the CBC’s Rick Cluff reported to those listening to CBC Radio that day.
“Groundskeepers worked feverishly, vacuuming up fallen snow from the artificial turf while players and fans alike speculated about a snow-out.”
But, as Cluff told listeners, the head umpire, Nestor Chylak, made the call for the two teams to play ball.
The Toronto fans who were there were not disappointed with what they saw on the field.
Jays ‘weren’t supposed to win’
“They cheered nearly every play and watched in surprise as their new heroes took control of the game in the closing innings,” said Cluff.
“The Blue Jays weren’t supposed to win after all, everybody has been saying for weeks they’re too young and too inexperienced to have much of a chance this year. But win today they did.”
Doug Ault became one of those heroes, by hitting the franchise’s first-ever home run in the team’s 9-5 win over Chicago — one of two he hit that day. The team, as a whole, had 16 hits in its MLB debut.
The win was also a first for rookie manager Roy Hartsfield, who would guide the team through its early years on the diamond.
The Blue Jays would go on to win just 54 games during the 1977 season and finish last in their division.
But their fans will always remember that Toronto started its rookie MLB campaign with a historic W.