The current lineup for the Toronto Blue Jays is a literal murderer’s row of baseball bashers. From Josh Donaldson, to Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, and Kendrys Morales, no pitcher in baseball can get caught leaving a fat pitch over the plate. Even guys who aren’t traditionally power hitters, like Russell Martin or Kevin Pillar, get in on the long ball action every now and then. But they aren’t the first group of Blue Birds to hit memorable bombs.
Over the years, the Jays have employed some big, big hitters and there have been some memorable dingers hit at Exhibition Stadium, then Rogers Center and in big league parks around North America.
From walk-offs winners to league and team-record setting dingers, the Jays have shown a penchant for the big moment. Doug Ault hit the team’s first home run, in the snow no less, in the first game in Blue Jays history on April 7, 1977. The rest is history.
Here are eight homers that fit into the most memorable category.
8. Blue Jays Hit A Record 10 Against Baltimore
Yes, we said seven homers, but in 1987 the Toronto Blue Jays hit a major league record 10 home runs in one game. Yep, you heard that right, 10 in one game. Before the big September collapse that saw the Jays blow a division crown in the last week of the season, the Blue Jays tore up American league pitching on the way to a then-team record 215 total homers. On Sept. 14, 1987, the Jays were still at the top of the standings when Baltimore came to town. It was the first game of a three-game set, one which the Orioles would rather forget. Prior to the game, the major league record for homers by a team in a game was eight (Boston was one team and they did it to Toronto in 1977). When catcher Ernie Whitt hit his third of this game (and ninth for the Blue Jays) in the seventh inning, that record became old news. Fred McGriff bopped another later, the 10th, for good measure. Rance Mulliniks and 1987 MVP George Bell also hit two taters that day, and solo shots went to Lloyd Moseby and Canadian boy Rob Ducey. A record that may never be topped.
7. Carlos Delgado Hits Four In A Game
In 2003, Carlos Delgado was having a season for the ages. He was smacking home runs at a killer pace and driving runs in with amazing regularity, getting him into serious MVP consideration (he would finish second to Alex Rodriguez). Late in September, the last place Tampa Bay Devil Rays paid a visit to the SkyDome, and got to bear witness to a Delgado virtuoso performance. The big Puerto Rican entered the game with 37 homers and when it was done, he had 41. In hitting four homers (driving in six) he joined some very elite company. Only 14 major leaguers, to that point, had ever hit four big flies in a game, a list that includes Lou Gehrig and Willie Mays (both Hall of Famers). To put that kind of accomplishment in perspective, only one player, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers, has turned the trick since. His first homer that day was his 300th and the bat flip on his fourth is pretty epic.
6. Jose Bautista Hits 50th
Before he was heisted in a trade from Pittsburgh in 2008, he wasn’t much of a hitter, much less the big basher he is now. He hit just three in his first 21 games when he came to Toronto in ’08 (21 games) and would hit 13 in his first season in 2009. Somewhere between 2009 and 2010, a bolt of lightning must have hit the Dominican slugger. He entered the 2010 season with 59 career home runs, he would leave it with nearly double that. Bautista started rapping dingers at a furious rate that year and come Sept. 23, with the Mariners in town, he was sitting at a team record 49 (George Bell owned the previous mark of 47). He didn’t wait long to hit No. 50. In the bottom of the first inning, he turned on a pitch from Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, giving the Jays a 1-0 lead that stood up the rest of the game. Jose would hit four more before the end of the season, making him the all-time Jays leader for a single season. He is also one of six players in MLB history to hit 54 in a season, a list that includes Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.
5. Ed Sprague Hits Game-Winning HR, Game 2, 1992 World Series
Talk about living in the moment. In 1992, 24-year-old Ed Sprague was just four years removed from being picked 25th overall by Toronto in the 1988 draft out of Stanford. After playing 61 games in his rookie season of 1991 (hitting four homers), he played in just 22 in 1992 and hit all of one big fly. As a raw rookie, he was stuck behind third baseman Kelly Gruber on the depth chart and limited to spot duty. In his first post-season, he had a single in two at bats in the memorable ALCS against Oakland. Toronto lost the opener of the ’92 World Series to the powerful Atlanta Braves, 3-1, and were down 4-3 in the top of the ninth in the second game and facing menacing Atlanta closer Jeff Reardon. With one out, pinch hitter Derek Bell drew a walk and with the pitcher’s spot in the line-up coming up, manager Cito Gaston gave Sprague the nod. He promptly deposited a Reardon fastball in the Fulton County Stadium cheap seats for a game-winning two-run dong.
4. Encarnacion Walks Off Baltimore — 2016 AL Wild Card Game
It was a rough 2016 for the Toronto Blue Jays, at times. After a record breaking offensive output in 2015, the bats were somewhat silenced in 2016 and the Jays rode incredible starting pitching all summer long. But they couldn’t hold off the Red Sox for a second straight division title, and they almost blew their chances at even being a Wild Card team. After closing the season with two narrow, hard fought wins at Fenway Park, the Jays booked their ticket to a Wild Card showdown with their division rival Baltimore Orioles.
Baseball fans were treated to an 11 inning thriller, with the game stuck tied at two apiece after five innings. The bullpens started to get thin, with Toronto going to lefty starter Francisco Liriano and the O’s tapping Ubaldo Jimenez (while confusingly leaving Cy Young candidate closer Zach Britton on the bench). Jimenez gave up two straight singles to Devon Travis and Josh Donaldon before grooving a fastball down the middle to Edwin Encarnacion, one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters. Edwin crushed the ball 440′ into the left field stands to give the Jays a 5-2 win and a ticket to their second straight ALDS against the Texas Rangers.
3. Roberto Alomar HR, 1992 ALCS Game 4
In 1992, there was no bigger closer in the game than Dennis Eckersley. He saved 51 games that year (winning the Cy Young) for a muscle bound Oakland Athletics squad and with his long hair and mustache was as flashy as they came. The submarine-style hurler punctuated big outs with fist pumps and for all the world, was nearly unbeatable. Nearly. Toronto was up 2-1 in the ’92 ALCS, but were down 6-1 in the eighth in Oakland in Game 4. They pushed across three in the top of the eighth to narrow the gap to 6-4 entering the ninth. Enter “Eck” to come on and close out the ninth. Devon White got things started, singling off Eckersley. Then Alomar came up. Not known for home run hitting prowess (the future Hall of Famer hit all of eight in the regular season), Robbie came through, big time. He drove a shot into the right field stands to knot the game at 6-6, blowing the save for Eckersley. Toronto sealed the victory in the top of the 11th and won the series in six games.
2. Jose Bautista HR, 2015 ALDS Game 5
Spoiler alert, this was not the biggest home run in Blue Jays’ history. But it sure was a doozy that set the Twitterverse alight. Never has a bat flip — or the 7th inning of any game — caused such a storm of controversy, nor an internet full of interesting memes commemorating Joey Bats’ big fly against Texas in the 2015 ALDS. In his illustrious Major League career, Bautista had never been to the post-season. Leading up to the crucial Game 5 decider, he had hit one other post-season home run, in a 5-3 Game 1 loss at the Rogers Center. In a seventh inning that will be talked about for years to come, the Rangers scored the go-ahead run when Jays’ catcher Russell Martin inadvertently hit Shin-Soo Choo’s bat on a throwback to the mound. Several scrums and ugly beer-tossing moments later, the run stood up. But, in the bottom of the seventh, the wheels fell off inexplicably for Texas. Three straight errors led to the tying run scoring. With two on and two out, Bautista came to the plate. With chants of “Jose, Jose…Jose, Jose” ringing in his ears, Bautista ripped an inside pitch from Rangers’ reliever Sam Dyson into the cheap seats for the game-winner. His bat flip was monumental.
1. Joe Carter’s Walk Off Homer, 1993 World Series Game 6
There haven’t been many other bigger home runs in major league history than the shot Joe Carter hit off Philadelphia Phillies’ reliever Mitch Williams in Game 6 of the World Series. Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 winner for the Pirates in the 1960 Series is the only other walk-off to win it all in major league history. That the 2015 team is on the cusp of greatness only amplifies the importance of Carter’s game-winning bash in 1993. With the Jays down 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies trotted out poor old Williams to close it out. He’d already blown a couple of saves and for all intents and purposes looked like the sacrificial lamb. And he was. Ricky Henderson and Paul Molitor sandwiched base hits around a fly out, sending Carter to the plate with one out. On a 2-2 count, Williams brought on inside and Carter crushed it, sending a team and a town into World Series history.