Jays!: A Fan's Diary

Description

213 pages
Contains Illustrations
$12.95
ISBN 0-7710-1931-9

Year

1985

Contributor

Reviewed by Nicholas Pashley

Nicholas Pashley was a bookseller and a freelance writer and editor in Toronto.

Review

It seems a long time ago now, but Jon Caulfield’s Jays! A Fan’s Diary is a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the Toronto Blue Jays’ 1984 season. It is not for a reviewer to give away the plot, but the likely reader of this book will already know that 1984 was the year the Blue Jays served notice to the American League. Unfortunately for Toronto fans, 1984 was also the year the Detroit Tigers won 35 of their first 40 games before going on to win their division by an easy 15 games and demolishing all comers in October. So much for suspense, unless you count a breathless four-team battle for second place.

What Caulfield is left with is a study of a young ballteam playing some excellent baseball. A few of those players belong to the ages now: names like Alfredo Griffin, Joey McLaughlin, Jim Gott, Roy Lee Jackson, Geno Petralli — gone but not forgotten. The ‘84 Jays didn’t win, but they beat the Orioles and the Yankees and they didn’t completely fall apart in September. Not completely.

It must be sorely tempting when putting together a book of this sort to change one’s opinions retroactively. Caulfield could have rewritten his pre-season comments about the Tigers being overrated, and no one would have been the wiser. But it’s there still for all to see. Fortunately, he avoided much in the way of predictions, so he has relatively little to answer for come October.

There have been a number of fan’s-eye-view baseball books in recent years, some better than others. Caulfield’s book would rate somewhere in the middle. Roger Angell is generally conceded first place in any year he chooses to compete. Detroit’s little-known Art Hill also has won admirers for his keen, often curmudgeonly observation. Caulfield is a relentless baseball watcher. If he takes time to enjoy the sunshine, observe the differences in ballparks, swap views with other fans, he keeps it to himself, allowing himself one brief blast at domed stadium enthusiasts.

The result is rather a lot of accounts of baseball games. Baseball’s season is a long one, and it’s easy to let one’s attention slip at the description of yet another sixth-inning rally. For one thing, there are only so many words for hits and runs, even given the game’s rich supply of cliches. Caulfield has the Jays whacking hard hoppers and tallying counters. One Texas pitcher has a knuckler that zigs, bobs, and darts; a less fortunate teammate has a hanging curve that dangles in front of a batter like a fat pork chop.

Still, the fan can never get enough. This one may be strictly for the partisan Blue jay fan, but there’s no shortage of those.

Citation

Caulfield, Jon, “Jays!: A Fan's Diary,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/35801.