It was largely through Peter Hardy’s efforts, as chairman of the board at Labatt’s, that the city of Toronto was able to land a major league franchise. The vice-chairman of the Blue Jays’ initial board in 1976, Hardy was directly involved in the hiring of Peter Bavasi, Pat Gillick and Paul Beeston. He would later become board chair, and, in 1981, the club’s chief executive officer (CEO).
Hardy fostered a family atmosphere while he was CEO, offering minor league managers time off during the regular season and ensuring that minor leaguer players were afforded nutritional meals. During his reign, he also endorsed decisions to hire Bobby Cox, Jimy Williams and Cito Gaston as field managers. After the Blue Jays captured their first division title in 1985, Sports Illustrated selected Hardy as Major League Baseball’s top executive.
A highly respected leader, Hardy was also asked to join several key Major League Baseball committees, including Baseball’s Executive Council and a committee formed to find a successor to Bowie Kuhn. He would retire in 1990, but continued to serve as honorary chair of the Blue Jays board until 1994. Paul Beeston once said that Hardy was held in such esteem that when he became president of Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig would often ask him, “What would Peter Hardy do?”