1981 Toronto Blue Jays season

The 1981 Toronto Blue Jays season was the franchise's fifth season competing in Major League Baseball. Games were suspended for 50 days due to the 1981 Major League Baseball strike, causing a split season. The Blue Jays finished both halves of the season in seventh place in the seven-team American League East. Managed by Bobby Mattick, the Blue Jays played their home games at Exhibition Stadium and had an overall record of 37 wins and 69 losses.

1981 Toronto Blue Jays
Major League affiliations
  • 1st half: 16–42 (.276)
  • 2nd half: 21–27 (.438)
  • Overall: 37–69 (.349)
Divisional place
  • 1st half: 7th (19 GB)
  • 2nd half: 7th (7+12 GB)
Other information
Owner(s)Labatt Breweries,
Imperial Trust,
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
General manager(s)Pat Gillick
Manager(s)Bobby Mattick
Local televisionCTV Television Network
(Don Chevrier, Tony Kubek, Fergie Olver)
Local radioCKFH
(Jerry Howarth, Early Wynn, Tom Cheek)
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Regular season

The Blue Jays were one of the worst teams in the majors in the first half of the split season, as the Blue Jays had a record of 16 wins and 42 losses, a percentage of .276.[4] Although the Blue Jays had future stars Jesse Barfield, George Bell, and Lloyd Moseby in the lineup, the team continued to struggle.

On May 15, 1981, Len Barker of the Cleveland Indians pitched a perfect game against the Blue Jays. It was the tenth perfect game ever pitched, is one of only seventeen in the history of the major leagues, and remains the last no-hitter thrown by an Indian.[5]

The result of the season was one of the more controversial times in franchise history. The President of the Blue Jays, Peter Bavasi, went to see the team in Anaheim against the California Angels. Bavasi's father, Buzzie Bavasi was the president of the Angels, and his team had gotten off to a lackluster start. Buzzie wanted to fire Angels manager Jim Fregosi, and Peter Bavasi had the idea to fire his manager, Bobby Mattick. Both thought it would be big news if father and son fired their manager on the same night.[6] One of the Blue Jays executives advised the Jays Vice-Chairman of the Board, Peter Hardy. After a brief conversation, Hardy made it clear to Peter Bavasi that Mattick would not be fired in this way.

After the strike was resolved, the Blue Jays started the second half of the season with a close to .500 winning percentage. Peter Bavasi was heard to muse aloud the requirement to print World Series tickets.[7] The Jays would finish the second half with 21 wins and 27 losses, seven and a half games out of first place. Despite the attempted Bavasi firing, Mattick would resign as manager at the end of the season. On November 22, 1981, Hardy forced Bavasi to resign from the Blue Jays.[8]

Season standings

AL East W L Pct. GB Home Road
Milwaukee Brewers 6247 0.569 28–21 34–26
Baltimore Orioles 5946 0.562 1 33–22 26–24
New York Yankees 5948 0.551 2 32–19 27–29
Detroit Tigers 6049 0.550 2 32–23 28–26
Boston Red Sox 5949 0.546 30–23 29–26
Cleveland Indians 5251 0.505 7 25–29 27–22
Toronto Blue Jays 3769 0.349 23½ 17–36 20–33
AL East
First Half Standings
W L Pct. GB
New York Yankees3422.607
Baltimore Orioles3123.5742
Milwaukee Brewers3125.5543
Detroit Tigers3126.5443+12
Boston Red Sox3026.5364
Cleveland Indians2624.5205
Toronto Blue Jays1642.27619
AL East
Second Half Standings
W L Pct. GB
Milwaukee Brewers3122.585
Boston Red Sox2923.5581+12
Detroit Tigers2923.5581+12
Baltimore Orioles2823.5492
Cleveland Indians2627.4915
New York Yankees2526.4905
Toronto Blue Jays2127.4387+12

Record vs. opponents

Baltimore 2–26–63–64–26–75–32–46–07–67–54–22–15–2
Boston 2–22–45–47–66–13–36–72–53–37–59–33–64–0
California 6–64–26–77–53–30–64–33–32–22–86–42–46–6
Chicago 6–34–57–62–53–32–04–12–45–77–63–32–47–5
Cleveland 2–46–75–75–21–54–43–62–17–53–28–42–24–2
Detroit 7–61–63–33–35–13–25–89–33–71–25–19–36–4
Kansas City 3–53–36–00–24–42–34–59–42–103–36–73–45–3
Milwaukee 4–27–63–41–46–38–55–49–33–34–22–24–56–4
Minnesota 0–65–23–34–21–23–94–93–93–32–83–6–15–85–1
New York 6–73–32–27–55–77–310–23–33–34–32–35–42–3
Oakland 5–75–78–26–72–32–13–32–48–23–46–14–210–2
Seattle 2–43–94–63–34–81–57–62–26–3–13–21–65–83–3
Texas 1–26–34–24–22–23–94–35–48–54–52–48–56–2
Toronto 2–50–46–65–72–44–63–54–61–53–22–103–32–6

Opening Day starters

Notable transactions

  • June 8, 1981: 1981 Major League Baseball draft
    • Matt Williams was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 1st round (5th pick).[9]
    • Mike Sharperson was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 1st round (11th pick) of the Secondary Phase.[10]
  • June 10, 1981: Rick Bosetti was purchased from the Blue Jays by the Oakland Athletics.[11]


1981 Toronto Blue Jays roster
  • 48 Luis Leal
  • 50 Joey McLaughlin
  • 42 Paul Mirabella
  • 33 Dale Murray
  • 37 Dave Stieb
  • 40 Jackson Todd
  • 23 Mike Willis



Other batters

  • 32 Charlie Beamon
  • 26 Willie Upshaw
  • 19 Otto Vélez


  •  3 Bobby Mattick


  • 31 Bobby Doerr (Hitting)
  • 28 John Felske (Bullpen)
  • 14 Denis Menke (First Base)
  • 41 Al Widmar (Pitching)
  • 24 Jimy Williams (Third Base)

Game log

1981 Game Log 37–69 (Home 17–36, Away 20–33)
April 7–12 (Home 2–7, Away 5–5)
1April 9@ Tigers6–2Morris (1–0)McLaughlin (0–1)51,4520–1
2April 11@ Tigers6–2Wilcox (1–0)Stieb (0–1)13,6170–2
3April 12@ Tigers6–2Leal (1–0)Bailey (0–1)9,9501–2
4April 13Yankees5–1Clancy (1–0)John (1–1)Jackson (1)25,1122–2
5April 15Yankees6–3May (2–0)Todd (0–1)Gossage (1)16,2802–3
6April 16Tigers2–0Wilcox (2–0)Stieb (0–2)López (1)11,0582–4
7April 17Tigers8–5Bailey (1–1)Leal (1–1)Saucier (1)15,1962–5
8April 18Tigers4–3Schatzeder (1–0)Clancy (1–1)López (2)16,2942–6
9April 19Tigers9–1Bomback (1–0)Morris (1–1)12,2743–6
10April 20Brewers5–4 (12)Lerch (1–0)Willis (0–1)12,2983–7
11April 21Brewers6–2Haas (1–0)Stieb (0–3)11,0833–8
12April 22Brewers8–1Caldwell (2–1)Leal (1–2)11,7923–9
April 23@ YankeesPostponed (rain) Not rescheduled
13April 24@ Yankees4–2John (2–1)Bomback (1–1)Gossage (4)20,8633–10
14April 25@ Yankees7–2Todd (1–1)May (3–1)17,3194–10
15April 26@ Yankees2–1Stieb (1–3)Underwood (0–2)37,3065–10
16April 27@ Brewers4–3 (12)Cleveland (1–0)Garvin (0–1)6,6925–11
17April 28@ Brewers6–2Bomback (2–1)Caldwell (2–2)6,4336–11
18April 29@ Brewers5–0 (14)Leal (2–2)Easterly (0–1)7,3207–11
19April 30@ Orioles4–0Flanagan (2–2)Todd (1–2)7,7267–12
May 9–20 (Home 5–10, Away 4–10)
May 1@ OriolesPostponed (rain) Rescheduled for May 2
20May 2@ Orioles4–3Palmer (1–0)Willis (0–2)7–13
21May 2@ Orioles8–3McGregor (2–1)Leal (2–3)16,4027–14
22May 3@ Orioles4–2Bomback (3–1)Stone (1–3)McLaughlin (1)23,8988–14
May 5IndiansPostponed (rain) Rescheduled for July 19
23May 6Indians4–1Blyleven (3–1)Todd (1–3)11,4698–15
24May 7Indians6–2Stieb (2–3)Waits (3–1)11,3289–15
25May 8Red Sox4–2Torrez (2–2)Bomback (3–2)Burgmeier (3)15,1069–16
26May 9Red Sox10–3Stanley (3–1)Clancy (1–2)16,0409–17
27May 10Red Sox9–5 (10)Burgmeier (2–0)Jackson (0–1)17,4119–18
28May 11Red Sox7–6Clear (2–0)Willis (0–3)11,3159–19
29May 12Orioles5–2Stieb (3–3)Palmer (1–1)11,35410–19
30May 13Orioles4–0McGregor (3–1)Bomback (3–3)12,56810–20
31May 14Orioles10–0Flanagan (4–3)Clancy (1–3)11,50910–21
32May 15@ Indians3–0Barker (3–1)Leal (2–4)7,29010–22
33May 16@ Indians4–1Todd (2–3)Garland (2–3)24,96411–22
34May 17@ Indians1–0Waits (4–2)Stieb (3–4)Monge (1)11–23
35May 17@ Indians2–1 (10)Blyleven (5–1)Jackson (0–2)46,16811–24
36May 18White Sox7–2Trout (3–1)Bomback (3–4)18,65211–25
37May 19White Sox9–5Clancy (2–3)Hoyt (3–1)Leal (1)11,60412–25
38May 20White Sox6–5Farmer (1–2)McLaughlin (0–2)Hoyt (5)12,53612–26
39May 22@ Athletics6–2Langford (5–4)Stieb (3–5)13,42612–27
40May 23@ Athletics3–2 (15)Jones (3–1)Leal (2–5)27,14712–28
41May 24@ Athletics6–5 (12)Owchinko (2–1)McLaughlin (0–3)12–29
42May 24@ Athletics5–0Norris (7–2)Garvin (0–2)32,98512–30
43May 25@ Angels2–1Witt (3–4)Todd (2–4)Hassler (3)22,17112–31
44May 26@ Angels8–4Jackson (1–2)Rau (1–2)McLaughlin (2)21,22213–31
45May 27@ Angels3–1Stieb (4–5)Forsch (6–3)21,16714–31
46May 29Athletics6–3Clancy (3–3)Keough (6–2)Jackson (2)16,50915–31
47May 30Athletics6–5Leal (3–5)Norris (7–3)McLaughlin (3)21,04616–31
48May 31Athletics6–5Owchinko (3–1)McLaughlin (0–4)24,07916–32
June 0–10 (Home 0–5, Away 0–5)
49June 1Angels3–0Forsch (7–3)Stieb (4–6)12,26816–33
50June 2Angels3–0Frost (1–0)Leal (3–6)Hassler (4)12,61716–34
51June 3Angels17–6Zahn (6–6)Clancy (3–4)12,40116–35
52June 5@ Rangers5–4 (12)Comer (4–1)Leal (3–7)11,49516–36
53June 6@ Rangers4–1Jenkins (4–4)Stieb (4–7)24,31216–37
54June 7@ Rangers9–0Darwin (7–4)Todd (2–5)14,85716–38
55June 8@ White Sox6–2Lamp (2–1)Clancy (3–5)Hickey (1)8,30116–39
56June 9@ White Sox3–0Dotson (7–3)Leal (3–8)8,53416–40
57June 10Royals7–4Leonard (6–7)Bomback (3–5)19,09816–41
58June 11Royals10–5Martin (2–3)Willis (0–4)Quisenberry (9)16,49816–42
August 9–10 (Home 4–8, Away 5–2)
59August 10@ Tigers4–3Saucier (1–0)McLaughlin (0–5)15,18716–43
60August 11@ Tigers6–4Berenguer (1–4)Schatzeder (3–5)Jackson (3)10,52617–43
61August 12@ Tigers4–3Stieb (5–7)Morris (9–4)Jackson (4)8,77518–43
62August 14Brewers5–4Garvin (1–2)Easterly (2–2)Jackson (5)15,11419–43
63August 15Brewers4–3Bomback (4–5)Cleveland (2–2)McLaughlin (4)12,46720–43
64August 16Brewers6–2Caldwell (8–5)Stieb (5–8)Fingers (14)20–44
65August 16Brewers2–0Lerch (4–6)Todd (2–6)Fingers (15)24,47220–45
66August 17@ Royals5–3Gale (5–5)Clancy (3–6)Quisenberry (11)31,95820–46
67August 18@ Royals5–3Leal (4–8)Jones (1–1)Jackson (6)26,95221–46
68August 19@ Royals9–4Berenguer (2–4)Leonard (7–8)28,17422–46
69August 21White Sox5–4Stieb (6–8)Farmer (2–3)14,16123–46
70August 22White Sox8–0Burns (8–2)Clancy (3–7)19,08023–47
71August 23White Sox13–2Trout (7–4)Leal (4–9)16,48623–48
72August 24Rangers3–0Medich (7–3)Berenguer (2–5)12,73523–49
73August 25Rangers6–1Jenkins (5–6)Stieb (6–9)13,72923–50
74August 27Royals11–5Martin (3–5)Clancy (3–8)14,70423–51
75August 28Royals4–3McLaughlin (1–5)Brett (1–1)13,23024–51
76August 29Royals2–0Jones (2–1)Berenguer (2–6)Quisenberry (13)19,05524–52
August 30RoyalsPostponed (rain) Not rescheduled
77August 31@ Rangers3–0Stieb (7–9)Jenkins (5–7)8,03425–52
September 11–15 (Home 6–6, Away 5–9)
78September 1@ Rangers9–3Clancy (4–8)Darwin (8–7)8,35826–52
79September 2@ Rangers4–1Honeycutt (9–3)Leal (4–10)6,85126–53
80September 3@ White Sox4–3Hoyt (6–3)Berenguer (2–7)6,66926–54
81September 4@ White Sox6–2Stieb (8–9)Lamp (5–3)18,31727–54
82September 5@ White Sox3–1Clancy (5–8)Baumgarten (5–8)McLaughlin (5)14,62828–54
83September 6@ White Sox3–2Leal (5–10)Burns (8–3)Jackson (7)11,25029–54
84September 7@ Twins4–0Jackson (3–2)Berenguer (2–8)Corbett (9)5,02429–55
85September 8@ Twins1–0Havens (2–4)Stieb (8–10)2,83929–56
86September 9@ Twins3–1Arroyo (6–7)Clancy (5–9)Corbett (10)3,38129–57
87September 10Mariners2–0Leal (6–10)Clay (0–6)McLaughlin (6)11,68530–57
88September 11Mariners8–1Abbott (3–6)Berenguer (2–9)12,02330–58
89September 12Mariners3–0Stieb (9–10)Beattie (2–2)14,04831–58
90September 14Twins6–3Havens (3–4)Clancy (5–10)Corbett (13)11,40231–59
91September 15Twins4–2Leal (7–10)Arroyo (6–8)McLaughlin (7)12,03732–59
92September 16Twins5–2Williams (5–8)Berenguer (2–10)11,73332–60
93September 18Angels5–1Murray (1–0)Witt (5–9)13,47833–60
94September 19Angels6–4Clancy (6–10)Frost (1–7)16,41834–60
95September 20Angels6–3Bomback (5–5)Zahn (9–11)McLaughlin (8)20,57535–60
September 21AthleticsPostponed (rain) Rescheduled for September 22
96September 22Athletics3–2 (13)Beard (1–1)Leal (7–11)35–61
97September 22Athletics4–2McCatty (13–6)Berenguer (2–11)15,54235–62
98September 23Athletics6–0Langford (11–9)Clancy (6–11)14,11435–63
99September 25@ Angels11–5Zahn (10–11)Leal (7–12)19,89035–64
100September 26@ Angels6–3Renko (8–4)Berenguer (2–12)Hassler (5)18,88635–65
101September 27@ Angels4–3Stieb (10–10)Moreno (1–2)McLaughlin (9)24,90336–65
102September 29@ Athletics5–1Underwood (4–6)Clancy (6–12)10,99836–66
103September 30@ Athletics3–0Norris (12–9)Leal (7–13)11,14436–67
October 1–2 (Home 0–0, Away 1–2)
104October 2@ Mariners8–3Clay (2–7)Berenguer (2–13)5,14836–68
105October 3@ Mariners4–3Stieb (11–10)Abbott (4–9)McLaughlin (10)8,65337–68
106October 4@ Mariners2–0Bannister (9–9)Todd (2–7)Rawley (8)4,88537–69
*An MLB Players strike forced the cancellation of all regular season games between June 12 and August 9. A split-season format was adopted.

Player stats

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; 2B = Doubles; 3B = Triples; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen bases

Pos Player G AB R H 2B 3B Avg. HR RBI SB
CErnie Whitt74195164690.2361165
1BJohn Mayberry94290347261.24817431
2BDámaso García64250246381.25211313
3BDanny Ainge86246204662.1870148
SSAlfredo Griffin1013883081196.2090218
LFAlvis Woods852882071150.2471213
CFLloyd Moseby1003783688162.23394311
RFBarry Bonnell66227215074.2204284
DHOtto Vélez80240325192.21311280

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; 2B = Doubles; 3B = Triples; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen bases

Player G AB R H 2B 3B Avg. HR RBI SB
Garth Iorg702151752110.2420102
George Bell60163193821.2335123
Buck Martinez45128132981.2274211
Willie Upshaw61111151931.1714102
Jesse Barfield259572232.232294
Ken Macha378541720.200061
Greg Wells327371850.247050
Ted Cox165061540.300010
Rick Bosetti254751120.234040
Fred Manrique14281400.143010
Charlie Beamon8151310.200000
Dan Whitmer790110.111000

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts

Dave Stieb2525183.211103.1970656189
Jim Clancy2222125.06124.9077686456
Juan Berenguer121171.0294.3141343529

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts

Luis Leal2919129.271313.6863534471
Jackson Todd211397.22703.9651433141
Mark Bomback201190.15503.8942393533

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts

Joey McLaughlin4060.015102.8524192138
Roy Lee Jackson3962.01272.6123182527
Jerry Garvin3553.01203.4020202325
Mike Willis2035.00405.9125232016
Mike Barlow1215.00004.2011765
Dale Murray1115.11001.1722512
Paul Mirabella814.20007.36161279
Nino Espinosa11.00009.001100

Award winners

All-Star Game

  • Dave Stieb, Pitcher[12]

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Syracuse Chiefs International League Bob Humphreys
AA Knoxville Blue Jays Southern League Duane Larson and Larry Hardy
A Kinston Eagles Carolina League John McLaren
A Florence Blue Jays South Atlantic League Dennis Holmberg
Rookie GCL Blue Jays Gulf Coast League Rich Hacker
Rookie Medicine Hat Blue Jays Pioneer League Wayne Graham



  1. George Bell at Baseball Reference
  2. Dan Whitmer at Baseball Reference
  3. Ken Macha at Baseball Reference
  4. Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, Stephen Brunt, p.136, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-023978-2
  5. Sports American League (Baseball) Baseball AL West Division Major League Baseball – SI Vault
  6. Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, Stephen Brunt, p.137, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-023978-2
  7. Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, Stephen Brunt, p.138, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-023978-2
  8. Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball, Stephen Brunt, p.157, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-023978-2
  9. Matt Williams at Baseball Reference
  10. Mike Sharperson at Baseball Reference
  11. Rick Bosetti at Baseball Reference
  12. Blue Jays All-Stars | bluejays.com: History
  13. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd and 3rd editions. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997 and 2007
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