Blue Jays Flashback: Dave Stieb
In his franchise record seven All-Star Game appearances, Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Dave Stieb started and relieved, earned a win and a loss and even had an at bat.
Yes, the intense hurler pretty much did it all in the Midsummer Classic.
And as Len Lumbers and Blake Bell, the brains behind the excellent Today in Dave Stieb History Twitter account will tell you, the Blue Jays legend did it magnificently.
Stieb allowed just one earned run in 11-2/3 innings, good for a 0.77 ERA. Lumbers adds that Stieb faced 49 batters in All-Star games, 23 of those plate appearances were by players who are now Hall of Famers.
“Dave Stieb’s entire All-Star Game split for facing 49 guys was a .140 batting average, .245 slugging percentage and .233 on-base percentage,” noted Lumbers. “That’s a .478 OPS, which considering the competition is terrific.”
Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano would’ve settled for a smidgen of Stieb’s success in the All-Star Game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on July 11. Unfortunately, he left the game after recording just one out in the seventh inning with lower back tightness.
But fresh off watching Romano in the Midsummer Classic, I thought I’d look back at Stieb’s most memorable All-Star appearances.
July 8, 1980 – Dodger Stadium
In his first All-Star Game, a 22-year-old Stieb entered in the seventh inning with the National League leading the American League 3-2 and allowed a single to Ken Griffey, the first batter he faced. Veteran catcher Darrell Porter had trouble corralling Stieb’s pitches. The young righty walked two batters, threw two wild pitches and Porter was charged with a passed ball.
“Stieb was just whipping sliders and sinkers and they were just flying all over the place,” said Blake Bell.
Stieb did, however, retire National League sluggers Gary Carter and George Hendrick and escaped the frame only allowing one run.
August 9, 1981 – Cleveland Stadium
This was first major league game played after a 50-day players’ strike. Stieb was summoned into the game in the eighth inning with speedster Tim Raines on second base. The Blue Jays ace promptly retired Andre Dawson on a slow grounder and struck out Bruce Benedict. In the ninth, Stieb permitted a double to Steve Garvey and walked Ozzie Smith but managed to keep the National League off the scoreboard.
By the bottom of the ninth, however, American League manager Jim Frey had run out of position players, forcing Stieb, who was drafted as an outfielder, to hit.
“I had Rick Burleson’s bat. I had Buddy Bell’s gloves. I had Tom Paciorek’s helmet,” Stieb told reporters after the game. “All I needed was somebody else’s stroke.”
Stieb struck out against closer Bruce Sutter for the second out of the inning. Dave Winfield then flew out to give the National League a 5-4 win.
July 6, 1983 – Comiskey Park
For the first time, Stieb started the Midsummer Classic for the American League. After a shaky beginning that saw him field a Steve Sax grounder and throw the ball over first baseman Rod Carew, which eventually led to an unearned run, Stieb bore down and struck out Dawson, Dale Murphy and Mike Schmidt to end the first inning. He followed that up with two three-up, three-down frames.
“I think his start in 1983 was sort of the apex,” said Bell when evaluating Stieb’s All-Star Game appearances. “He threw three, no-hit innings against a plethora of Hall of Fame players.”
Stieb’s performance earned him the win in the American League’s 13-3 victory.
July 10, 1984 – Candlestick Park
Stieb made his second consecutive All-Star Game start for the American League. This time, the Blue Jays ace was the victim of errors by right fielder Reggie Jackson and catcher Lance Parrish in the first inning that led to an unearned run. Gary Carter then hit a solo home run off Stieb in the second. In total, the Blue Jays righty allowed two runs (one earned) in two innings and was saddled with the loss in the National League’s 3-1 win.
July 16, 1985 – Metrodome
American League and Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson sent Stieb into the game in the sixth inning along with his longtime batterymate Ernie Whitt and second baseman Damaso Garcia.
“That was nice of Sparky because at the time when you think of it, the tensions were pretty high [between the Tigers and Blue Jays in the AL East]. The Tigers had won in 1984 and the Blue Jays and Tigers were just coming off a series against each other,” said Bell.
With Whitt calling pitches, Stieb got Ozzie Smith to fly out, fanned Ryne Sandberg and struck out Nolan Ryan after a Jose Cruz walk in his sole inning of work. The National League won the game 6-1.
July 10, 1990 – Wrigley Field
Lumbers points out that this was Stieb’s seventh All-Star appearance which at the time tied the record for most by an American League pitcher. It also marked Stieb’s final Midsummer Classic. He tossed two scoreless innings in relief. He retired Ozzie Smith, Lenny Dykstra and Sandberg in the third inning. He then had a three-up, three-down fourth, striking out Dawson to conclude the frame, in the American League’s 2-0 win.
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