Homegrown by the Blue Jays (selected in the ninth round 233rd overall in 1977), Jesse Barfield made his Big League debut on September 3, 1981 and was a mainstay from 1982 until ’89. He was a significant factor in the club’s first-ever postseason appearance in 1985 and Toronto’s perennial rank as a championship contender throughout the 1980s.
Barfield was known for his thunder at the plate, his cannon arm and his constant smile. In 1986 he became the first Blue Jay to capture the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award in the same season. Barfield led the AL with 40 homers and 20 outfield assists that season when he also made his only All-Star Game appearance. The Blue Jays’ outfield of that era was one of the best all time with Lloyd Moseby in centre, George Bell in left and Barfield in right. They provided it all – speed, power, defence and excitement.
Born in Joliet, Illinois, Barfield followed the exploits of Chicago’s Cubs and White Sox, with his heart leaning more towards the Cubbies because his idol was the great Ernie Banks. Barfield’s name still ranks among the Blue Jay career leaders in numerous categories, including his 179 home runs (No. 7 on the Toronto list). Traded to the Yankees for pitcher Al Leiter on April 30, 1989, Barfield’s last game in the Majors (June 17, 1992) came in Pinstripes. Of his 1,432 games in the Majors, 1,032 were as a Blue Jay, making him only one of 10 to surpass 1,000 games with the franchise.