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In the fall of 1959, shortly after the Los Angeles Dodgers had given a second baseman from Selma, Calif. named Bobby Cox $40,000 to sign, three other bonus babies were popping out in other parts of the hemisphere. On Oct. 21, George Antonio Bell came into the world in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. On Oct. 29, Jesse Lee Barfield was born in Joliet, Ill. And on Nov. 5 in Portland, Ark., Lloyd Anthony Moseby was delivered.
Now, in the spring of 1985, these three big, strapping lads, born within 16 days of each other, form the Toronto outfield. They are also three of the big reasons why, as of Sunday, the Blue Jays had the best record in baseball, 28-14, and were working on a seven-game winning streak.
Their manager, one Bobby Cox, has them three games ahead of the Tigers and 4� in front of the Orioles in the American League East, which is funny because at this time last year the Jays were 28-14 and 7� games behind the Tigers. " Detroit's still got a great club," says reliever Bill Caudill, another important reason Toronto is on top. "But they're human. Last year they weren't human."
The Blue Jays themselves aren't getting any superhuman efforts, but they do have a he-ain't-heavy-he's-my-teammate attack. In their latest winning streak the heroes have been rightfielder Barfield, whose Grand Slam breakfasts have fueled an American League-high 16-game hitting streak, and catcher Ernie Whitt, who had back to back, three-RBI, one-homer games, in 7-6 and 10-7 victories over Cleveland last Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Barfield's homer in the ninth gave Toronto a 6-5 victory over the Indians.
In a previous seven-game winning streak, from April 24 to May 1, first baseman Willie Upshaw carried the load with three homers and six RBIs. He then fell into a slump from which he awoke Thursday night, when his ninth-inning, two-out, two-run single beat the Indians 6-5. Earlier in the week Toronto swept its three-game series with the White Sox by a total score of 20-4 (6-1, 4-3, 10-0).
The Blue Jay offense is so well balanced that while no hitter has more than 25 RBIs, five players have driven in at least 20. The team has a .305 batting average with runners in scoring position, which is 40 points higher than its overall mark. The pitching staff has been similarly cooperative. No pitcher has more than five wins, but four have won at least four. With nine saves, Caudill has done the job he was asked to do, yet Jim Acker has given the Blue Jays a totally unexpected lift by earning six saves.
But it's the outfield that makes the Blue Jays special. "One of the best young outfields in the game," says Cox. "All three of them can throw, run and hit with power, and they're all only 25."
The eldest, leftfielder Bell, is hitting .277 with eight homers and 23 RBIs, and he hasn't really started hitting. He hasn't really started talking, either, because he's upset with Toronto's print media. He thinks they think his stats last year—.292, 26 HRs, 88 RBIs and 11 stolen bases-were a fluke, so he won't speak for pub until he's convinced they're convinced. "Maybe next year," he says of his next speaking engagement. Until then, he will, yes, let his bat do his talking.
Rightfielder Barfield, who was half of a platoon with Dave Collins last year, has already justified the trade of Collins to Oakland to get Caudill. (The other Blue Jay traded was shortstop Alfredo Griffin, but he isn't overly missed because his replacement, Tony Fernandez, has the range of a Texas cattleman.) Barfield has a .288 average, 10 dingers, 24 ribbies and an untold number of Grand Slams. Those are the $2.69 breakfast specials served by the Denny's restaurant chain. "I get teased about it a lot," says Barfield, "but I love the pancakes." He gets two of those, along with two scrambled eggs, two bacon strips and two sausage links. It leaves him fulfilled and with $41.31 in daily meal money.
Centerfielder Moseby, the youngest of the trio, has started slowly (.261, four home runs, 17 runs batted in), but as Cox says, "When I watch Mo, I feel I'm watching a .300 hitter." Moseby himself says, "I feel good. I don't worry about Lloyd Moseby. I can do more than one or two things on the field to win a game." He has 13 stolen bases and won this accolade from Cleveland manager Pat Corrales: "With that guy in centerfield anything in the outfield can be caught."