Blue Jays Legend Dave Stieb Reflects on Career

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When former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb broke into the big leagues in 1979, he was never supposed to be a pitcher. Drafted in the fifth round in the 1978 Major League Baseball Draft as an outfielder out of Southern Illinois University, Stieb had always played the outfield. The outfielder-turned-pitcher recently sat down with Betway to share his experiences about moving to a new position that would ultimately lead to a career of success.

The Change

It was his junior year at Southern Illinois University when he got his first experience pitching. Due to injuries to the bullpen, Steib was asked to come in and pitch in relief. Known for his strong arm and accuracy, Steib agreed to fill in, but what he did not know was that there were scouts in attendance who quickly noticed Steib’s relief appearance.

It was shortly after this relief appearance that the Blue Jays scouts approached Stieb. Impressed by what they saw, the Blue Jays drafted Stieb as a pitcher a couple of months later. Still hesitant about being a professional baseball player as a pitcher, Stieb wanted to get playing time as an outfielder, allowing him to hit regularly. The Blue Jays agreed to this request, but it was short-lived.

Stieb did well playing both positions for the first few weeks, but Stieb went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in an early game. From then on, the Blue Jays turned their focus to Stieb just being a pitcher. The Blue Jays were stacked in the outfield that season, so it made more sense from an organizational perspective for Stieb to shift his focus to pitching if he wanted to make it to the big leagues.

Although still not comfortable with the change, Stieb was finding success on the mound, going 5-2 in Triple-A that season. Stieb was pitching in the big leagues the following season. Once called up, Stieb continued to find success. Stieb calls it “a blessing in disguise.” As he continued to develop as a pitcher, Stieb was selected as an all-star in just his second season in the big leagues.

With continued success came high standards. Stieb would often be at odds with teammates because sometimes their play was not up to par with his, to which Stieb would act out accordingly on the field. A conversation with then California Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson led Stieb to try to grip his emotions. He tried but could not do it.

Stieb knew what kind of pitcher he wanted to be, and that was to be the best. And it showed. Stieb was a regular all-star during the 1980s. In 1990, Stieb threw the first no-hitter in Blue Jays history. To date, no other Blue Jay has thrown a no-hitter. Injuries would start to take hold of Stieb in 1992. Stieb spent most of the season on the disabled list, which would be extremely hard as he would have to watch from the dugout as his team won the World Series over the Atlanta Braves.

Final Thoughts

Stieb’s major league career may very well never have taken place if he had not agreed to change positions. Yet he made that move, and a story-book career lasted over 16-seasons. Stieb was a seven-time all-star and won an earned run average title in 1985. To date, Stieb is still the Blue Jays record holder for wins, starts, innings pitched, shutouts, strikeouts, and complete games.

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Jeff "Rip" Griffin is a current MLB writer covering the Houston Astros. Rip is also the host of The Rip Griffin Show on Apple Podcasts. Rip holds a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology, focusing in Sports Management from the University of Houston - Victoria.