Toronto Blue Jays Managerial History

Toronto Blue Jays Managerial History

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With All the talk of John Gibbons pending doom here is a run down of the Jays managers. Interesting to note many Jays managers never managed other teams.

Roy Hartsfield (1977-1979) 166-318
A great baseball man. Roy played ball for the Braves in the early 1950’s and was hampered by injuries and had to call it quits after just three full seasons. Roy was only 52 when he took the helm of the fledgling Blue Jays. He had been Walter Alston’s right hand man for some time in Los Angeles and was a successful minor league manager in the PCL with the Spokane Indians and Hawaii Islanders.
After he was replaced at the helm of the Jays he was given (promoted) to a front office job with Pat Gillick.

Bobby Mattick (1980-1981) 104-164

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Bobby is a throw back player. He played in the 1930’s and had to retire when a foul ball cracked his skull. He went into coaching and scouting in the 1940’s and was one of the most successful scouts perhaps in history. He was hired as a Day 1 employee like Hartsfield and was a scouting director and director of player personel. He, probably, should get just as much credit for building the Jays of the 1980’s and 1990’s as Pat Gillick. In 1980 Bobby became the manager of the Blue Jays at 64. Bobby stayed on as an executive in the Blue Jays system well into his 80’s. He died at 89 and was still semi-active as a scout for the Jays. He is a Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and the Jays Spring Home in Dunedin bears his name.

Bobby Cox (1982-1985) 355-292

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Bobby Cox was brought in as a real manager compared to his predeseors who were organisation men who were meant to build a team and teach the young players. Bobby got the most out of a young Jays team eventually leading them to the 1985 AL East title. He had previously managed in Atlanta and in the Minor Leagues. He left the Jays to become GM of the Braves for the 1986 season. He became the Braves field manager again in 1990 and has since held that position. He won an AL Manager of the year for his 1985 efforts and has won the NL award 3 times, the most of any manager. He also holds the record for being ejected the most 136 and counting. He is one of the winningest managers in baseball history and should be a hall of famer.

Jimy Williams (1986-1989) 281-241

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Probably the most underachieving manager in Jays history. He has been one of Bobby Cox’s boy his whole career. He joined the Jays after managing and coaching in the Angels system in 1980. When Cox left after 1985 Williams took the job. He led the Jays to mixed results in 196 and 1988 and was at the helm for the 1987 meltdown which the Jays need only one win over the last seven to force a tie. Williams was fired in May 1989 when the Jays got off to one of their worst starts in history. Williams soon joined Cox in Atlanta as a coach and then on to Boston where he made the playoffs in 2 of his 5 years at the helm. He was fired from Boston in 2001. Williams was not out of work long. He was picked up by the Houston Astros before the 2002 season. He replaced popular manager Larry Dierker and was unable to get the Astros into the playoffs in his two full years. He was fired during the All-Star break in 2004, held in Houston, which he was a NL coach. The Astros went on to the NLCS that year. Jimy has since been hired on by the Philadelphia Phillies led by another dinosaur, Charlie Manuel. Williams’ underachieving should probably keep him from ever having a job managing a team in the ML ever again.

Cito Gaston (1989-1997) 683-636

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Gaston was the Jays manager for 4 AL east Titles and 2 WS titles. He was a classic players manager. He was hired by Cox as hitting instructor in 1982 shortly after retiring from the game. Gaston, along with Buck Martinez and Jim Fregosi were the only managers to have distinctive major league careers. Gaston was fired just before the end of the 1997 season after the rebuilding Jays wanted to go a different directing. Despite his success, Gaston has not been hired as a ML manager since. He was almost hired by the White Sox, Tigers and Royals in the past several years. The only job he has had was being rehired by the Jays as batting coach 1999-2001. Gaston is a Canadian Baseball HOFer and has had his Number 43 honoured at the Rogers Centre.

Tim Johnson (1998) 88-74

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Johnson, after a journeyman playing career in the 1970 an early 1980s he was very succesful at many positions with several organisations in baseball as a scout, MiL coach etc. The Jays hired him in 1998 as the 5th manager and the 4th rookie. Johnson led the Blue Birds to their best record since the 1993 season but was fired shortly before the 1999 season Johnson was fired for allegations that he lied about his service in the Vietnam War and his education at UCLA. Johnson was blackballed by all of baseball for sometime but he has been managing teams in the Mexican League and the Northern League to great success in the last few season. He may not ever get a chance at the bigs again but he may be the best manager to ever manage in Toronto.

Jim Fregosi (1999-2000) 167-157

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Fregosi was probably the most accomplished player to manage the Jays. He is one of the Angels all time greats and has had his number 11 retired by that franchise. He won several Gold Gloves and was an All-Star on several occasions. He retired from playing in 1978 and began managing later that season. In his first full year he led the Angels to their first AL West Pennant in 1979. After being fired by the Angels, Fregosi was successfull at the AAA level before managing the Chicago White Sox in the mid-80s. Fregosi then managed the Phillies from 1991-1996. He had one magic season in 1993 where they won the NL Pennant on one of the most charismatic clubs in recent memory. In 1999 in the fall out of the Tim Johnson fiasco, Gord Ash hired Fregosi hoping to bring some stability to the Jays. He had two winning seasons in Toronto. In 2000 he had the Jays in first place as late as July. They were unable to make the playoffs. Fregosi’s role with the Jays was always a place holder and the long term plan of the club did not include him and he was not hired to return after the 2000 season. Fregosi has been semi-retired since leaving Toronto. He currently is a scout for the Braves.

Buck Martinez (2001-2002) 100-115

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Buck was a classic Blue Jay and the second former Jays player (Johnson was the first) to become manager. Martinez was a great catcher with no hit. His playing career more-or-less ended in a plate collison in 1985 at Seattle in which he broke his ankle but proceed to complete a rare double play at home plate. This is one of the glorious moments in Blue Jays history. The glorious marquee that Martinez had as a player did not carry over to managing. Martinez had been the TSN colour man since 1987 and moved from the booth to the dugout to start the 2001 season. The Jays got out to a great start under Martinez but then fell apart. His managing approach was too dated to compete in the 2000’s and was more suited to his playing era. Martinez was fired in June 2002 after a 20-33 start. Martinez was actually fired after the Jays swept the Tigers, one of few managers to win their last game before being canned. Martinez’ pedigree as a broadcaster did not keep him out of work for long. He was picked up quickly by ESPN and has since been reunited with former TSN partner Dan Shulman at ESPN. Their tandem has been featured on EA video games and in many playoff series over the past 15 years. Martinez had a chance to manage again at the 2006 World Baseball Classic where he underachieved the superstar USA team to a very disappointing showing.

Carlos Tosca (2002-2004) 191-191

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Tosca was a coach for Martinez before replacing his boss midseason in 2002. Tosca, a Cuban born baseball career man who never played in the ML. He managed, coached and taught baseball at many levels before managing the Jays. Initially he turned the club around after a dismal start under Buck-Ball and almost got the club back to .500. In 2003 he got the most out of the young Jays winning 86 games but were well back of the Yankees and Red Sox. Tosca was fired by the Jays in mid-season after a very disappointing 2005 season. Toscas went back to teaching in the minors and has since been hired as bench coach for the resurgent Florida Marlins.

John Gibbons (2004-) 282-283

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Gibbons’ playing career could be based on movie Bull Durham. Gibbons however, never had the homer record. He was a jounreyman catcher he played briefly for the Mets. He struggled constantly with knee injuries and was in baseball limbo for sometime before being hired as a bullpen catcher under Buck Martinez. Under Tosca he became a coach and replaced Tosca as the iterim manager with 50 games remaining in 2004. 2004 was terrible season, the Jays finshed last and lost 90 games for the first time since 1980. In 2005 the Jays improved 10 games on their previous season and things were looking up for Gibbons. In 2006 the Jays finishedwith 87 wins and in second place with the addition of some high profile free-agents. 2007 was a disapointment as the Jays have failed to play meaningful games after Labour Day under Gibbons. Gibbons tenure has been rocky, public disputes with David Bush, Shea Hillenbrand, Ted Lilly and recently Frank Thomas has recieved more attention than the Jays success. His days are probably numbered as the Jays have started 2008 terribly. Gibbons will join the rest of former Jays managers in Managerial Graveyard.

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  • Awesome job. I really enjoyed all of the updates on what they are doing now. I assumed some would stay in the game but was surprised by the fact that pretty much all of them continue to scout players.

    May it be bold to call Johnson one of the best based off of one season? Personally I think he got a raw deal, but still…

  • ’41’

    Jim Fregosi is not a pretty man.

    Cito, is, and forever will be, the MECCA of Blue Jays managers.

    ’41’

  • Very solid and informative article. It is too bad that the Jays canned Johnson, but it had to happen. Once a manager is called on his bullshit their is no way they can accept and respect him as the leader of a team. Although Gibbons has had rocky relationships (with the cancers of the clubhouse), he has integrity and the players and fans know that he won’t accept any riff-raff or conduct detrimental to the team.

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