It is Dave Lemanczyk’s 71st birthday today.
Dave was a starting pitcher for the Blue Jays back in their first season. He started the second game in club history, taking the L in our very first loss.
He was a pretty decent pitcher. We took Dave from the Detroit Tigers in the Expansion Draft. The Expansion Draft was a suckers bet; the expansion teams paid a fortune to join the league, and they get to pick from players that the established organizations don’t want. We did get Jim Clancy, Ernie Whitt, Rico Carty, and Pete Vuckovich (who would later win a Cy Young, but not as a Jay), but mostly we got cast-offs.
Lemanczyk had a pretty good year, setting career highs in wins, starts, and innings pitched, among over things. He threw 252 innings, 11 complete games and 13 wins, 16 losses, and a 4.25 ERA. He led the team in wins.
Dave only made 20 starts the next season and had a 4-14 record with a 6.26 ERA. Maybe the 252 innings from the season before were too much for his arm.
He bounced back in 1979, throwing a one-hitter against the Rangers in April. At the break, he was 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA and made the All-Star team. After the break, things didn’t go as well, he had some injury problems, and he finished with an 8-10 record with a 3.71 ERA in 20 starts.
The Jays traded him to the Angels in the middle of 1980. We released him after the season, and he was finished as a major leaguer at age 30, with a 37-63 record (with some terrible teams), 4.62 ERA in 185 games, 103 starts.
After his career ended, Dave became a scout for the Yankees but quit after a couple of years to spend more time with his family. He also worked as an agent for a short while, then he opened a baseball academy and gave private lessons.
I don’t remember much about him, other than he was a big guy, listed at 6’4”. He’s one of many who I wonder what kind of career he might have had if he had come up when managers took a bit more care with pitcher’s arms. He’s one of those guys I’d like to talk to, hear about what it was like pitching or an expansion team.
There is a story up about Lemanczyk from the Tampa Bay Newspapers.
Happy Birthday, Dave. I hope it is a good one.
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