Acid Flashback Friday: Roy Hartsfield as First Blue Jays Manager

Before the Toronto Blue Jays began their exhaustive search to find their 11th manager, there was one man who took on the daunting task of being the first man to take the helm of a fledgling franchise.

For this week’s Acid Flashback Friday, we look back at the first ever manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, Roy Hartsfield.

With only three years of major league playing experience under his belt, in 1953 Hartsfield began the next chapter of his career as a Dodger. He spent the next 19 years in the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a minor league player and subsequently a minor league coach.


Once Peter Bavasi was awarded the General Manager position with the new franchise in Toronto, Bavasi decided to bring in one of his cohorts from the Dodgers system, Roy Harstfield as manager.

The Toronto Blue Jays expectedly struggled in their first three seasons in the majors. Roy Hartsfield was at the helm of three consecutive 100 seasons, and compiled a total record of 166-318.

The following is a brief description of Roy Hartsfield, courtesy of Stephen Brunt from The Globe & Mail:

“Peter Bavasi, the Jays’ first president, brought in Roy Hartsfield to manage the team out of the gate because he was an amiable guy who could spin a good story, because he had a southern accent that sounded suitably baseballish (a help in selling of the game in a foreign locale), because he was a minor-league lifer who would be forever grateful for the opportunity, and who could be easily discarded when the time came.”

According to reports, Roy Hartsfield clashed with certain players on the Blue Jays roster but was he heavily supported at the time by Assistant General Manager Pat Gillick.

However, even a strong case made by the Assistant GM couldn’t save Roy Hartsfield after finishing dead last in the American League three straight years. He was let go by the organization following the 1979 season, and was succeeded by Bobby Mattick.

Roy Hartsfield didn’t blaze any trails as the inaugural manager of the Blue Jays, but somebody had to be the first skipper in Toronto and he laid the foundation for what was to come.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.