In 1977, opening day Toronto Blue Jays certainly didn't cash in

When the Toronto Blue Jays step on the field in New York on Monday afternoon, they’ll again be severely outmatched by the hometown Yankees in the payroll department. But at least it won’t be as bad as it was 38 years ago, when the Blue Jays played their first game.

Toronto’s opening day lineup is slated to make $60,348,100 in 2015. New York’s will pull in over $146,826,000 - 143% higher. But, if you can imagine, things were even more unbalanced back in 1977.

The inaugural edition of the Blue Jays had their highest-paid player – pitcher Bill Singer ($90,000) – on the mound on opening day. Even so, the entire payroll for the starting 10 totaled a measly $303,000, according to figured provided by United Press International to the Toronto Star. (For reference - the Yankees' opening day payroll was $1.495 million - almost 5 times higher than Toronto's. The starting nine for the Chicago White Sox, Toronto's opening day opponent, had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball at $675,000 - still more than double what Toronto put on the field.)

Salaries for the 1977 Opening Day Toronto Blue Jays
Salaries for the 1977 Opening Day Toronto Blue Jays

 

Not only was it the lowest opening day payroll in all of major league baseball, four players (Gary Matthews, Joe Morgan, Steve Garvey, and somebody named Willie Montanez) each made more than the Jays’ entire opening day lineup combined.

The Opening Day lineup on Monday will earn 199 times as the 1977 group did – and that’s without either of the Jays’ highest-paid starting pitchers on the mound. Salaries over that time have risen 51 times the rate of inflation in Canada.

Position

Season

Name

Salary

Multiple

C

1977

Rick Cerone

$25,000

 

 

2015

Russell Martin

$7,000,000

280x

1B

1977

Doug Ault

$19,000

 

 

2015

Justin Smoak

$1,000,000

53x

2B

1977

Pedro Garcia

$30,000

 

 

2015

Devon Travis

$507,500

17x

SS

1977

Hector Torres

$27,000

 

 

2015

Jose Reyes

$22,000,000

815x

3B

1977

Dave McKay

$25,000

 

 

2015

Josh Donaldson

$4,300,000

172x

LF

1977

John Scott

$19,000

 

 

2015

Kevin Pillar

$512,000

27x

CF

1977

Gary Woods

$19,000

 

 

2015

Dalton Pompey

$508,500

27x

RF

1977

Steve Bowling

$19,000

 

 

2015

Jose Bautista

$14,000,000

736x

DH

1977

Otto Velez

$30,000

 

 

2015

Edwin Encarnacion

$10,000,000

333x

P

1977

Bill Singer

$90,000

 

 

2015

Drew Hutchinson

$520,100

6x

 

Total

 

 

199x

 

The Blue Jays’ 2015 payroll is more a sign of the times than an indication that the team has joined the ranks of the big spenders. Not only will the top 3 Yankees make more than the Jays entire opening day payroll combined; the Bronx Bombers could trot out 8 different combinations of players who’d match that total.

Still, when we look at how things have changed from the first time the Blue Jays stepped onto the field, a good place to start looking is at the players’ wallets.