The Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, a team in the summer wooden bat Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, are happy to announce that former Major Leaguer Jesse Barfield will be the featured speaker at its Annual Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at the Travelodge in Little Falls, New York.
A key cog in what is widely regarded as the best outfield of the 1980s; Jesse Barfield is making a grand return to the Mohawk Valley. Barfield, who was drafted in the ninth round of the amateur draft by the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, began his professional career with the Utica Blue Jays that summer. With the Utica Jays, he played in 70 games, hit five homeruns and drove in 35 runners. He also had a solid .908 fielding percentage. Utica began their NY-PENN League stint with a second place finish and a record of 43-28. It was a good start for the seventeen year-old from Joliet, IL.
Barfield worked his way up the chain and made his major league debut for the Blue Jays in 1981. He became the team’s regular right fielder in 1982, and by 1985, he was a bona fide star for the team. In 1985, he smacked 27 homers and drove in 84 while batting .289. Then, in 1986, he seemed to explode on the field when he swatted 40 home runs and drove in 108 why batting .289 once again. He set the team record for homers in a season (since eclipsed), won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award that season, represented the Blue Jays in the All Star Game, and finished fifth in the Most Valuable Player Award tally. That season he also became the first Blue Jay to join the 20-20 Club – hit 20 homeruns and steal 20 bases in the same season.
Barfield played for the Blue Jays until 1989 when he was dealt to the New York Yankees for prized prospect, lefty Al Leiter. While his body endured unexpected injuries over the three-and-one-half years, Barfield never lost his rifle of an arm from right field. His accuracy and speed on the throw from the outfield to home plate was unparalleled. Most runners would not challenge his arm, but those that did were smart enough to stay at third base.
After a short-lived retirement, Barfield went to Japan to play for the storied Yomuri Giants. With that team, Barfield was reunited with his centerfield Blue Jays teammate Lloyd Moseby but he could not get his average out of the cellar, so after 114 games, Barfield was released and returned to the States. He tried to hook on with the Houston Astros, but his injuries prevented him from suiting up again, and as a result he retired from playing.
Barfield’s career statistics included 241 homeruns and 716 runs batted in over 1,428 games. His career highlights included being the first Blue Jays player to hit 20 homeruns (27), steal 20+ bases (22), and in a fine testament to the power generated from his right arm, outfield assistance.
Inducted into the Kinston Professional baseball, Barfield was Toronto’s 1982 Rookie of the Year (8th overall in the American League), led the American League in homeruns with 40 in 1986, became the first Blue Jay to hit a pinch-hit grand slam (April 24, 1982), and the first Blue Jay to win a Gold Glove (1985) . Barfield also tied an American League record in 1985 when he had an extra-base hit in eleven straight games.
The event’s doors will open on March 21st at 5:30 P.M. for cocktails, autographs, and silent auction with dinner and program following. Tickets cost $40 per person and a table of 8 can be purchased for $275.
For more information on the Hall of Fame Dinner/DiamondDawgs Season Kickoff and to purchase a seat or table, please email Travis@mydiamonddawgs.com or contact team owner Travis Heiser at (315) 985-0692.
Stay tuned as we announce this year’s inductees to the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame in the coming weeks by visiting our website www.MyDiamondDawgs.com or by social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“WE ARE THE MOHAWK VALLEY’S HOMETOWN TEAM”