Blue Jays Flashback: Lloyd Moseby

No big intro. No fuss. Straight into it. It’s time to talk Lloyd Moseby. Over to you, Kevin Glew.

Lloyd Moseby

His nickname is Shaker, but it could just as well be Mr. Blue Jay.

No ex-player has had a longer association with the Toronto Blue Jays than Lloyd Moseby.


The charismatic Californian spent 12 years in the organization as a player, several more as a coach and the better part of the past two decades as an ambassador.

“To me, Toronto is my home,” said Moseby in a recent phone interview. “I live in California because my kids and my grandkids are here but when I step out of a plane at Pearson [Airport], I feel like I’m home.”

Longtime Blue Jays fans are glad he still feels this way. They’re also quick to point out to younger fans that Moseby is far more than a token team ambassador.

In his 10 seasons with the Blue Jays from 1980 to 1989, Moseby showcased a potent combination of power and speed. In 1983, he became the first Blue Jay to score 100 runs in a season and he still ranks first in franchise history in stolen bases (255) and second in triples (60).

But a title like “Mr. Blue Jay” was something that the happy-go-lucky outfielder couldn’t have fathomed for himself when he was growing up in Oakland. As a teenager, he was focused on becoming an NBA player. In fact, the nickname “Shaker” was given to him for his moves as an All-American point guard at Oakland High School.

“I wanted to be just like Rick Barry,” said Moseby. “Basketball was my whole world.”

But while his hoops skills were earning him scholarship offers from colleges across the country, his power and speed on the diamond began attracting the interest of major league scouts. And when he was selected second overall by the Blue Jays in the 1978 MLB draft, he couldn’t refuse the $60,000 signing bonus they dangled at him.

“When I got drafted and they said $60,000, I thought that was like a couple billion,” said Moseby.

The 18-year-old signed and was sent to the Blue Jays’ Rookie Ball affiliate in Medicine Hat, Alta. To say Moseby experienced some culture shock was an understatement.

“I remember distinctly – and it could’ve been Canada Day – and they had cattle going down the middle of main street,” said Moseby.

Fortunately, team owner Bill Yuill and manager John McLaren helped him get settled and Moseby excelled, batting .304 with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 67 games.

He followed that up by hitting .332 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 129 games for class-A Dunedin in 1979 and he was batting .322 in 37 games with the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs the ensuing year when he was called up by the Blue Jays.

After a hot start, Moseby struggled, and it took him a few years to learn how to be successful against big league pitching. He credits much of his improvement to Cito Gaston, who was hired as the Blue Jays hitting coach alongside manager Bobby Cox in 1982.

Moseby’s breakout campaign came in 1983, when he batted .315, socked 18 home runs and swiped 27 bases. For his efforts, he was voted the team’s Player of the Year. Not coincidentally, the team also finished over .500 (89-73) for the first time.

For an encore, Moseby topped the American League in triples (15) and registered 39 stolen bases in 1984 and continued to be a force in 1985 when he pounded 18 home runs and swiped 37 bases to help the Blue Jays capture their first division title.

After winning a franchise record 99 games during the regular season, the Blue Jays were up 3-1 in their best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals before dropping the final three games.

“That taught us that it isn’t over until the fat lady sings,” said Moseby. “And I remember crying, because we were so close to going to the World Series.”

Blue Jays Flashback: George Bell

But the future of the club was bright, especially for their young outfield of Moseby in centre, George Bell in left and Jesse Barfield in right.

After his first taste of postseason action in 1985, Moseby registered back-to-back 20-home run, 30-stolen base seasons in 1986 and 1987 and in 1986, he was selected to the American League All-Star team. In 1989, he helped the club win their second division title, after the team began the season 12-24 under manager Jimy Williams, who was replaced by Gaston.

“What we came back from that year was almost impossible,” said Moseby.

Following that season, Moseby departed the Blue Jays and suited up for two campaigns with the Detroit Tigers before spending his last two pro seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.

After hanging up his playing spikes, Moseby served as a coach for the Blue Jays’ Short-Season class-A St. Catharines Stompers and the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs before becoming the Blue Jays’ first base coach in 1998 and 1999.

Since 2009, he has worked in an ambassador’s role with the club, representing the team at charitable events, season-ticket holder functions and serving as an instructor with the Blue Jays Baseball Academy at various kids events across the country, including the Honda Super Camps and Instructional Clinics and the Canadian Futures Showcase.

“I’ve played in the major leagues and that was great, but I think probably the greatest thing I’ve ever done in baseball was after I played and going around to every province in Canada,” said Moseby. “We have not only seen those kids love the game, but actually become really, really good players.”

Moseby says this like a proud Canadian, which is fitting. After all, regardless of his citizenship, “Mr. Blue Jay” considers himself Canadian. And his long-term service with the Blue Jays, at the very least, makes him an honorary one.

“Toronto is just the greatest city, as far as the people and the fans,” said Moseby. “You just can’t get any better.”