Acid Flashback Friday: Gary Lavelle’s Brief 1985 ALCS Appearance
If I told you there was just one pitcher in Blue Jays postseason history that made an appearance but actually failed to record an out, would you believe me?
Believe it or not, there is actually somebody who worked a game in the playoffs, but his career playoff pitching line is 0.0 innings pitched. For this week’s Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Gary Lavelle’s very brief stint in the 1985 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals.
Gary Lavelle spent 11 seasons with the San Francisco Giants as their on-again off-again closer. As a veteran late relief pitcher, he had yet to enjoy a taste of the postseason prior to joining the Toronto Blue Jays in 1985.
Gary Lavelle was finally summoned by the bright lights of playoff baseball against the Kansas City Royal and was called upon in Game 2 of the 1985 ALCS to start off the 8th inning.
With the game tied at 3-3, Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox called upon his left-handed reliever to pitch to the left-hander George Brett. That season, Brett was equally lethal against lefties and righties, and Lavelle held left-handers to a .220 average.
What happened next is something Gary Lavelle would probably rather forget, as he promptly surrendered a leadoff walk to the ever-dangerous George Brett in a tied game. Well I guess Bobby Cox had seen enough because he immediately yanked Lavelle and called in their closer Tom Henke.
Gary Lavelle faced one batter (who he walked) and was then taken out of the game. Lavelle’s final playoff pitching line would read 0.0 innings pitched, 1 BB. He was never called upon again during that series and that would be his first and only appearance in the playoffs.
Inheriting Lavelle’s baserunner, Tom Henke thankfully cleaned up the mess and pitched a brilliant three innings of relief which helped the Blue Jays hang on long enough to win Game 2 of the 1985 ALCS. Which kind of makes me wonder, why didn’t Cox just to to Henke in the top of the 8th anyway?
Gary Lavelle’s legacy won’t stand as one of the greatest in Blue Jays history, but if you’re ever playing Trivial Pursuit and you get the question “who is the only Blue Jays pitcher to make an appearance in the playoffs but only pitch 0.0 innings?”, you’ll know the answer is Gary Lavelle.
Late addition: I just randomly found this video on Youtube of Gary Lavelle endorsing something called the “Hitting Disc”. Interesting that a pitcher is promoting a product which is supposed to make a hitter perform better.
Thanks to @James_In_TO for this week’s Acid Flashback Friday suggestion.
If you have anything from Blue Jays yesteryear you’d like to see in a future Acid Flashback Friday, please send your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.