Pete Vuckovich Remembers Days as a Blue Jay
Pete Vuckovich, special assistant to Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik, had a very good Major League career posting a 93-69 record with 10 saves won the 1982 American League Cy Young Award. He spent one of his 11 Major League seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, appearing in 53 games during the Jays inaugural season in 1977. Despite making only 8 starts that season, Vuckovich finished fourth on the team with 148.0 innings pitched.
Vuckovich travels around the country throughout the baseball season, serving a variety of roles including amateur and pro scouting, and visits with the minor league teams. His baseball travels currently find him in Toronto where the Mariners are set to begin a three-game series tonight at Rogers Centre.
From the Corner of Edgar and Dave caught up with Pete as he tells some interesting stories (as he often does) about some of the memories he has of his season with the Blue Jays:
When did you play for the Blue Jays?
I played one season for the Blue Jays in their first season in 1977. They played in a stadium right on the lake, and let me tell you it was cold. The wind came right in, and it was like a football stadium. I remember they had to bring the Zamboni out twice during our first game. They didn’t have this dome back then.
What do you remember most about that season?
I think I did something that has never been done before, and probably won’t ever be done again. I recorded the first save and the first shutout for the team. I think I pitched two shutout innings on Opening Day, and all I remember was how cold it was (records show it was 32 degrees). And then I made a spot start sometime in June and threw a shutout against Jim Palmer. I don’t know for sure if that has ever happened (a pitcher recording the first save and shutout in a club’s history), but I would think that won’t happen again…maybe.
How did you come to Toronto?
We were a young team that season. We were just a bunch of young guys just playing baseball. It was my third Major League season and I was still pretty young, and I pitched a lot. I played in 1976-76 with the White Sox, and then then Blue Jays took me in the expansion draft.
What teammate do you remember most from that season?
Oh, that was a long time ago. Probably an infielder by the name of Doug Rader. We picked him up midseason from the Padres I think, and man, he was a trip. Good guy. I also played with Ron Fairly, Phil Roof and Ernie Whitt, that season. It was a long year because we were so young, and it was a long time ago, but I’ll always remember playing in the first year of the Blue Jays.