August 25, 1979: Angels start pounding on Blue Jays early and never stop

This article was written by Bob Timmermann

Don Baylor (THE TOPPS COMPANY)The California Angels’ best player of 1979, Don Baylor, came to Toronto in a bad mood. In an interview for the Orange County Register, Baylor criticized the Angels front office for not acquiring enough pitching help for the team.1 By the end of this game at Exhibition Stadium, Baylor had a 3-for-7 day with 8 RBIs in a 24-2 win over the Blue Jays. The Angels’ lack of pitching depth didn’t matter at all on this day.

While the Angels were in first place and trying to win their first-ever American League West title, the third-year Blue Jays were already 42½ games out of first place and dead last in the American League East. The game would also be a father-son matchup of front-office executives California’s Buzzie Bavasi and Toronto’s Peter Bavasi. Neither man ended up enjoying the day.

The Angels were starting one of their most consistent pitchers in Dave Frost. Toronto started former Angel Balor Moore, who had lost a 4-2 decision to the Angels on August 19 in Anaheim, where he pitched 6⅓ innings. That was six more innings than he pitched against the Angels this day.

Moore walked leadoff hitter Rod Carew. Rookie third baseman Carney Lansford reached on an error by shortstop Alfredo Griffin. Right fielder Dan Ford then laid down a bunt, which Moore couldn’t field. (It was ruled a sacrifice and error.) This left the bases loaded for Baylor, who prevailed in this matchup of Baylor vs. Balor, hitting a grand slam, his 29th home run of the year.

It got worse for Moore and Toronto as the Angels kept reaching base. The first six hitters reached safely, which included a two-RBI double by Bobby Grich, before rookie left fielder Bobby Clark flied out. After two walks, Toronto manager Roy Hartsfield rescued Moore and brought in Jesse Jefferson. Carew and Lansford batted for the second time in the inning, with Carew driving in a run with an out and Lansford singling home two more. The Angels led 8-0 before Toronto had even come up to bat.

The Angels kept scoring. And scoring. And scoring. They scored runs in each of the first six innings as both Jefferson and the next reliever, Jackson Todd, were unable to slow down the Angels. Baylor added his 30th homer of the year in the sixth against Todd, this one good for three runs.

With one out in the sixth, Hartsfield ran up the white flag and brought in backup first baseman Craig Kusick to pitch. Kusick ran in from the bullpen with his arms raised in celebration as he was eager to get the chance to pitch, as well as rest the arms in the Blue Jays bullpen, who were down to one healthy reliever by this time in Tom Buskey. Kusick enjoyed the moment, acting out an impersonation of “Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky, “walking off the mound, meditating, and then slamming the ball into his glove.”2 Blue Jays fans appreciated it, with a loud roar.

Kusick got the Blue Jays out of the sixth inning without more runs scoring, but after six it was 22-2 in favor of the Angels. Clark touched Kusick for his first major-league home run in the eighth inning, scoring Dickie Thon ahead of him, but other than that, the Angels were taking it easy against the soft-tossing Kusick, who finished out the game. Frost pitched a complete game for the Angels.

After the game, Hartsfield was asked about his use of a position player on the mound (a relatively rare event in 1979 compared with 40 years later). “I wouldn’t do it again, unless it was under similar circumstances,” Hartsfield told Neil MacCarl of the Toronto Star.3

On June 26, 1978, Toronto beat Baltimore 24-10 and Blue Jays general manager Peter Bavasi (son of Angels general manager Buzzie Bavasi, at whom Baylor had directed his ire) complained that Orioles manager Earl Weaver had disrespected the young Blue Jays by using position players Larry Harlow and Elrod Hendricks to pitch the fifth, sixth, and seventh. An embarrassed Peter Bavasi admitted his mistake from 1978 and told MacCarl, “All I can say is that sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.”4

Baylor wanted to talk more about the Angels’ lack of pitching after the game more than his two-homer, eight-RBI afternoon. Baylor told Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times that the team needed better long relief and that Buzzie Bavasi had hurt the team by selling Dyar Miller to the Blue Jays earlier in the summer.5 (The Blue Jays would send Miller to the minors after just 10 games pitched.) Baylor and Bavasi continued to squabble in the press about acquiring relief help for the Angels. (Eventually, the Angels picked up reliever John Montague from Seattle on August 29.)

The Angels’ 24 runs in the game remain the franchise record for the most in a game. The 26 hits would be matched again in 1980 in a 20-2 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Through the 2018 season, Blue Jays pitchers have never surrendered more than 24 runs in a game since this 1979 debacle. All nine Angels starting hitters had at least two hits in the game.

The day after this game, the Angels started their ace, Nolan Ryan, against rookie Butch Edge, who was making his third major-league start. Naturally, the Blue Jays won easily, 9-3.



In addition to sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted the and box scores.

Patton, Paul. “Angels Nothing but Devils to Jays,” Globe and Mail, August 26, 1979: S7.



1 Mark Heisler, “Angels Trounce Toronto, 24-2, as Baylor Stars,” Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1979: D14.

2 Mark Heisler, “Baylor Supplied the Punch; Angels Have Party, 24-2,” Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1979: C1.

3 Neil MacCarl, “It Was a ‘Joke’ but Kusick Had the Last Laugh,” Toronto Star, August 26, 1979: C1.

4 MacCarl.

5 Mark Heisler, “Angels Trounce Toronto.”

Additional Stats

California Angels 24
Toronto Blue Jays 2

Exhibition Stadium
Toronto, ON


Box Score + PBP:

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