1977 New AL Franchises
The American League placed new Franchises in Seattle and Toronto
Major League baseball tried having a team in the Pacific Northwest in 1969, however this was not successful as the Seattle Pilots were a failed franchise. The poorly financed, ineptly managed Pilots had been transferred to Milwaukee after only one season, redeeming an earlier pledge by Organized Baseball to replace the abruptly departed Braves of the National League.
The city of Seattle finally got a major league baseball team, the Mariners, after years of legal action against major league baseball and Toronto, Blue Jays, also went after a big league team. The earlier Seattle enterprise had stumbled over its inability to provide a suitable playing facility because the AL’s decision to expand a year early had condemned the Pilots to antiquated Sick’s Stadium.
Toronto meanwhile played in the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium that had been expanded to more than 40,000 seats.
In fact, the financial support of the giant Labatt Brewery empire had nearly brought the San Francisco Giants to Toronto in 1976. Only a last-minute court injunction and the emergence of local buyers had kept the Giants in the Bay Area. Consequently, Toronto was ready with both solid financing and an acceptable stadium. The AL seized the opportunity to extricate itself from the Seattle mess by granting franchises to both cities in time for the 1977 season.
In November 1976 representatives of the expansion Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays met in New York and paid $7 million each for the privilege of stocking their rosters from a pool made up of the rejects of the other 12 AL clubs. The first choice of the Mariners was outfielder Ruppert Jones of the Kansas City Royals. The first Blue Jay was the Orioles’ reserve shortstop Bob Bailor.
Looking ahead we note
The Mariners headed by an untested and lacking of experience baseball bigwigs, including entertainer Danny Kaye, won 64 and lost 98 games, in the AL West. had a hard time bringing fans to the game.
The Toronto Blue Jays faired worse, posting a 54 and 107 record in the AL East.
However, the Blue Jays emerged within a decade as the most powerful team in their division, From the beginning, Toronto fans and a financially stable ownership and management were committed to developing the team.
Baseball Blog Page 173