Even in the dog days of summer, Lloyd Moseby always wore spandex under his baseball pants. It was the only way he felt comfortable enough to play ball. Either spandex or long underwear, that’s what he told us, the fortunate students of Leslieville Public School, during his 1987 visit.
My Mother taught at the school, which on my trouble-making days didn’t work out so well for me, but on this day, it proved most convenient. You see, Lloyd spoke to one class only, and it was not mine.
Knowing well my obsession for the Blue Jays, she manoeuvred me out of my grade three class and secured me a seat in the lucky grade five classroom alongside my pal Miles, whose Mother taught the class and had worked the same magic for him. How Lloyd Moseby was convinced to come meet us students, I have long since forgotten. But I do remember a few things about Moseby in the classroom:
- That anecdote about wearing the spandex under his baseball pants
- The shininess of his hair
- What he said when I produced his dog-eared baseball car
“What did you do, wash this in your pocket?”
Such irony confused me. I didn’t know it was possible to wash something in my pocket. He smiled, and I must have realized he was joking because his “business” card I handed over had more creases and folds than an origami grasshopper. I remember feeling vaguely embarrassed that I didn’t have a mint condition baseball card for him to sign, but he didn’t seem to mind. He did seem like a genuine guy, with an easy smile, who loved his job and the kids…..still does, as he participates in baseball camps put on by the Blue Jays and Baseball Canada. Known as “The Shaker” for his unorthodox gyrations at the plate, Moseby with his exciting combination of speed and power was part of an emerging core of players putting Toronto on the major league map.
The Blue Jays still had not won a playoff series then, but by 1985 they had come close: 99 wins before a heartbreaking game seven loss to the Kansas City Royals after having taken a 3-1 lead in the ALCS. The Jays were such a huge draw. It felt like everyone I knew loved them. The city put so much hope in them, and 1987 seemed like it could be the year, as this Sports Illustrated article would suggest.
Lloyd finished his talk about the same time recess let out. I’ll never forget hoards of students charging through the doors outside to our concrete schoolyard to catch a glimpse of Lloyd. The cheers and excited wave of goodbyes followed him, smiling and got into his car, likely on his way to old Exhibition Place. If only the 1987 season had ended so jubilantly.