(Feature Image courtesy of Buffalo Bisons)
Jesse Barfield laughed and said that his old friend and teammate Lloyd Moseby was, “authentic.”
That was Barfield’s way of saying Moseby has no filter and will tell you what is on his mind.
Barfield should now. Because after nearly 10 years together in the game it’s a safe bet that few people know Moseby as well as Barfield does.
The duo who comprise two-thirds of the Toronto Blue Jays famed “Killer B’s” outfield in the 1980’s made a stop at Coca-Cola Field on Saturday as part of the Buffalo Bisons Blue Jays Weekend-which celebrates the working partnership between the two clubs.
“It is a lot of fun,” Barfield said of meeting fans. “They actually remind you of some things that you may have forgotten about. It brings back a lot of fond memories and being with Lloyd, of course, is the best.”
In 1981, and again from 83-89 the trio with Barfield in right, Moseby in center and George Bell in left were one of the most colorful and talented outfield trios to ever play the game. They created a connection with the Blue Jays fan base that remains strong to this day as all three are still fondly remembered by fans as being three key pieces that helped the struggling franchise gain respectability.
“It kinda reminds you of how good a time we really did have,” said Moseby, who joined the Jays in 1980. “When I came up in 1980, we were awful. We weren’t bad, we were awful. Then by the time Jesse got there (in 1981) we were bad. Then when George came (back in 1983) we were better. Then the train started to roll a little bit. All of that is a different kind of memory. It just kind of reminds you where we came from.”
Where the Jays came from, as Moseby so bluntly alluded to, was the basement. The Jays began play in 1977 when Major League Ball was made up of four divisions. The Jays finished in seventh place-dead last-in the AL East five years in a row. In 1982, the inched up to sixth place. In 1983 they turned the corner with their first ever winning season. By 1985, they won their first division title with a 99-62 record. Even though they fell to Kansas City in the ALCS the Jays had earned their way to respectability and had proven they were to be taken seriously. That year set the foundation for what would eventually lead to World Series titles in 1992 and ’93.
“We wanted to really. You look at us in spring training and instructional league and how hard we worked to get to the point where we were,” Barfield said. “I tell you something it was a lot of long hours down at Grant Field. People don’t realize that. I remember Lloyd working on sliding catches and (manager) Bobby Mattick saying ‘wow, Lloyd is crazy.’ But you look at what he ended up being. He was a heck of a ball player.”
At the root of their success was the fact that they always knew how to challenge each other in a way that would draw the best out of all three of them.
“It’s funny,” Barfield said with a smile. “George would always tease me. We got ready to go stretch one day, his locker was next to mine, he said ‘I’m a better hitter than you.’ And I said, ‘yeah you are.’ And I was kinda mad at myself. That was a horrible retort.”
Barfield and Moseby both had a good laugh as Barfield continued.
“I thought I hope he says that again,” Barfield said. “A couple weeks later, he wanted to get a rise outta me, he said ‘I’m a better hitter than you are.’ And I said ‘yeah, you are. But I’m a better all-around player than you.’ And he said, ‘yeah, you are.’”
Barfield, Moseby and Bell had such a special connection and mutual respect for each other that they knew how to push each other’s buttons in a way that lifted each other up. It was a mindset that the whole team shared. They weren’t just guys that happened to be on the same team. They were a family that would have run through a wall for each other.
“We were friends and that’s what we had that most teams didn’t have,” Moseby said. “We had a continuity that was different. Even to this day, we still work for the Jays, if (a teammate) comes in to a game it’s like oh my God! We’re excited because we were like family. And you can’t really replace that. When people ask what do you miss about the game? It would be the guys.”
“No doubt about it,” Barfield added.
That team unity is something that both Blue Jays legends hope that younger players- of all levels-don’t ever take for granted. Don’t be so wrapped up in stats and wanting to win that you forget the guy on the bus next to you. Stats and final scores eventually all fade into the history books. Friendships are what stay with you for the long haul.
“The trust,” said Barfield. “Those things that you go through as a family and friend, and here we are.”
At that point Moseby went on a humorous rant about staying friends just in case a former teammate ever decides to write a book.
Barfield, through the laughter, “I’m tellin’ ya. He’s authentic, man. He really is.”