After cups of coffee with the Indians in the late 1970s, Griffin got his first chance at a starting job when Cleveland traded him to Toronto in December 1978. Griffin's .080 batting average to start the season nearly prompted his demotion, but as soon as manager Roy Hartsfield warned him that he was in danger of losing his job the rookie shortstop reeled off a 19-game hitting streak. By the end of the season he had been named co-winner of the 1979 AL Rookie of the Year award along with Minnesota's John Castino.
All the same, Griffin was valued far more for his glove than his bat. Mike Scioscia called him "the Ozzie Smith of the American League." A steady, everyday shortstop, he spent six years with the Blue Jays, playing in 392 consecutive games. He was traded after the 1984 season to Oakland, where, despite his reluctance to draw walks and a tendency to be overaggressive on the basepaths, he began to harness the offensive promise he showed in 1980 when he set an AL record for most triples by a switch-hitter with a league-leading 15.
After establishing personal bests in most offensive categories with the Athletics, Griffin was traded to the Dodgers for Bob Welch prior to the 1988 season in a move that helped both teams to league championships. A Dwight Gooden fastball broke his hand in May 1988, and he was disabled for much of 1988 and part of 1989.
Griffin returned to Toronto in 1992 and was a key contributor as the Jays took the first of two consecutive championships. On October 13, 1993, he stood on deck as Joe Carter faced Mitch Williams in the ninth inning of Game Six. His career came to an end minutes later when Carter homered to win the World Series for Toronto. (TF)
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»November 26, 1979: 3B John Castino, who batted .285 for the Twins, and SS Alfredo Griffin, who hit .287 for the Blue Jays, tie for the AL Rookie of the Year award, each receiving seven of the 28 votes. The two rookies share one other distinction: both of them hit their first ML homers inside-the-park. The deadlock precipitates a change in the voting system, effective in 1980.
»June 29, 1990: Oakland's Dave Stewart and the Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela both throw no-hitters today, the first time this has happened since Hippo Vaughan and Fred Toney's double no-hitter in 1917. Stewart blanks the Blue Jays 5–0, and a few hours later Valenzuela beats the Cardinals 6–0. The only threat to Stewart is a fly ball by Fred McGriff that Dave Henderson catches with his back pinned to the wall. Fernando almost loses his no-hitter with one out in the 9th when Pedro Guerrero hits a grounder up the middle with a runner on. Valenzuela, a former Gold Glover deflects the ball to 2B where SS Alfredo Griffin starts a DP.
»July 28, 1991: Dennis Martinez of the Expos tosses the 13th (excluding Haddix and Shore) perfect game in major league history, setting down all 27 Dodgers to face him in a 2-0 win. Martinez strikes out five in the contest. Catcher Ron Hassey becomes the 1st receiver to catch two perfectos, having been behind the plate for Len Barker's masterpiece in 1981. Dodger IF Alfredo Griffin goes 0-for-3 against Martinez, to go along with his 0-for-3 in Tom Browning's perfect game in 1988, and 0-for-2 in Barker's perfecto in 1981.