They were connected at the hip, despite pitching home games five hours apart.
Dave Stieb was the bright hope every fifth day for Blue Jays fans.
Steve Rogers was a ray of sunshine for the Montreal Expos when it was his turn in the rotation.
How much were the right-handers alike? Consider:
- Both were the best on losing teams: Stieb won 12, pitching 242 innings, for the 1980 Jays, who won 67 games; Rogers won 11 times, working 253 innings for the 1975 Expos, winners of 75 games.
- Both battled opposing hitters and themselves early in their careers.
- Both led their franchises in career wins, Stieb with 175, Rogers with 156.
- Both had their trademark mound actions and reactions. Stieb would glare at an outfielder if he thought a ball should have been caught and then nervously grab his crotch. Rogers would watch a ball in the gap, heave his shoulders, put his head in his chest and go for a knock-kneed walk behind the mound shaking his head.
- Both had similar nicknames. Rogers was called Cy, after Cy Young, and Stieb was called Cy, although some teammates spelled it S-i-g-h.
- Both gave up memorable death blows in franchise history. Rogers, working in relief because of Jeff Reardon's bad back, gave up a homer to Rick Monday in the deciding game of the National League Championship Series in 1981. Stieb, also in relief, gave up a triple to Jim Sundberg off the right-field fence in the deciding game of the 1985 ALCS.
- And yesterday, both were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Did each see a little of themselves watching the other?
"I certainly did," Stieb told reporters on a conference call yesterday.
"I'm a little older than Dave, I saw the power aspect of his game which I didn't have," Rogers said. "I wanted to be like Dave. It was nice watching the Jays evolve just as the way we had a few years before."
While allowing the home run to Monday was the closest the Expos ever got to the World Series, Rogers said it "was the best of times and the worst of times."
"I wouldn't have been given the ball if I hadn't pitched so well leading up," Rogers said.
Rogers threw a two-hit shutout in beating the New York Mets 3-0 in his final start of 1981; worked 8 2/3 innings to beat the Phillies 3-1; pitched a six-hit, complete-game shutout to win the NLCS deciding game and a complete-game 4-1 win over the Dodgers.
"Gene Mauch told me a long time ago I was going to have to learn to relieve myself -- and I don't mean going to the bathroom. Gene said 'You are going to have to find a way to get to the seventh when all of a sudden your slider won't slide,' " Rogers said.
Joining the workhorses among the inductees were the late Charles (Pop) Smith of Digby, N.S., who played 1,093 games from 1880-91 and Harold (Doc) Younker, of Langley, B.C., for 50 years a volunteer trainer at the National Baseball Institute and with Team Canada in international competition.
While Rogers was eloquent and humorous, Stieb was sour from his home in Reno, Nev., where his son Andrew is studying broadcast journalism at Nevada-Reno. Stieb, who injured his back in 1992 and made just 14 starts, was not re-signed after the season.
"It hurt when the Jays let me go in 1992, I felt like I was discarded," Stieb said. "And it's all because of one man, but I'm not saying who."
So, on a day Stieb said he was "proud and honoured" he was still throwing darts.
At who is anyone's guess.
DAVE STIEB STEVE ROGERS
16 Seasons 13
176-137 Record 158-152
3.44 ERA 3.17
103 Comp. Games 129
- On being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame:
"It's truly a great honour and caps off a storied career."
"This is by far and away the greatest honour that I am going to receive."