In their short history, the Toronto Blue Jays have accomplished much. From a team that routinely lost 100 games in those first years (1977-1979), they quickly became championship caliber, capturing American League East Division titles in 1985, 1989 and 1991, before bowing in the American League Championship Series. That too, changed abruptly, with the Jays winning back-to-back East Division titles, ALCS and World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. Through it all, some great players on great teams graced the old open air Exhibition Stadium field and then finally the Skydome or as it’s now known the Rogers Centre. All-time greats like Dave Stieb, Devon White, Joe Carter, Tony Fernandez, George Bell, Jimmy Key, Kelly Gruber, Duane Ward, Tom Henke, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and Pat Borders brought championships to Toronto. Contemporary stars Carlos Delgado, Jose Bautista, Roger Clemens and Roy Halladay piled up individual accolades.
13. First Game – April 7, 1977
The Blue Jays debuted, in a bit of a snowstorm, on a converted football field in the not-s0-quaint confines of Exhibition Stadium. Awarded a franchise in 1976 for the relatively paltry sum of $7 million, paid by a consortium that included, fittingly, Labatt Breweries. Over 44,000 brave souls showed up that first day to see the Blue Jays and veteran starting pitcher Bill Singer do battle with the White Sox. It would turn out to be a successful start for a team that would win just 53 more, and lose 107 before the end. First baseman Doug Ault became an instant fan favourite that day, clubbing two home runs in the 9-5 victory.
12. Move to Skydome and Second Division Title – 1989
Rickety old Exhibition Stadium didn’t have much charm, and the Blue Jays, having come off a few winning seasons, needed a new home. So, at the base of that other famous landmark, the CN Tower, Toronto built its new stadium. To great fanfare, Skydome was opened, literally, to the world. Featuring the first retractable roof, the Blue Jays called it home for the first time on June 5, a 5-3 loss to Milwaukee. That blemish was all but forgotten in late September when they clinched the East Division with a 4-3 win over Baltimore. The magic of the new stadium didn’t help in the ALCS, as the Jays went down to Oakland in five games.
11. Edwin’s Walk Off
In 2016, the Jays had high hopes of repeating as AL East champions. Their starting rotation was even better than expected, even as their offense regressed from the year before. Unfortunately, the Jays couldn’t hold off the surging Red Sox for the division title, but they did managed to secure a home Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles. It was a tense game, with an atmosphere perfectly befitting of postseason baseball. The game went into extra innings, with everyone expecting the O’s to trot out Cy Young candidate closer Zach Britton for an inning (or more). Baltimore manager Buck Showalter inexplicably brought in converted starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who allowed two base runners before Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion blasted a walk-off dinger to send the Jays to their second straight ALDS.
10. Jose Bautista’s 50th Home Run – Sept. 23, 2010
In the world of overnight sensations, “Joey Bats” has a place at its highest peak. Bounced from team to team early in his career, Bautista was known for a cannon of an arm, but a weak bat. When he was traded to Toronto, he was toiling in Pittsburgh’s farm system. His first season in Toronto, 2009, he hit an unremarkable 13 homers. In 2010, he broke out, in a big way. Long balls flew off his bat at a team record pace, surpassing George Bell’s single season record of 48 in mid-September. On Sept. 23 against Seattle, he did what great sluggers Bell, Carlos Delgado, and Jose Canseco never did — hit his 50th tater (finishing with 54).
9. Carlos Delgado’s Four-Homer Night – Sept. 25, 2003
The popular Delgado hit a lot of bombs for the Blue Jays in 11 seasons (nine full). Well, 336 to be exact, which is a team record. Heck, before he left for Florida in 2004, he hit 30 home runs in eight straight seasons on his way to 10 overall (only one of four players to do so). So, how does a prolific hitter add to an illustrious career? By hitting four home runs in a 10-8 win against Tampa, that’s how. He started his march to notoriety by roping one off the facing of the old Windows restaurant. He smacked a homer in every at bat that night, the fourth a tape measure shot to tie the game at 8-8.
8. Josh Donaldson’s 2015 MVP Season
Third baseman Josh Donaldson wasn’t the first Blue Jay to win the American League MVP award — that honor goes to outfielder George Bell who brought home the award in 1987. However, when Donaldson claimed it in 2015 it was the start of something bigger in Toronto. The team has been without a playoff appearance in 22 years, prompting then-GM Alex Anthopoulos to make a number of big moves, including grabbing Donaldson in a trade from the Oakland Athletics. In his first season in a Jays uniform, the “Bringer of Rain” clobbered 37 homeruns, drove in 99 runs, scored 122 runs, and slashed at a .297/.494/.549 rate. Donaldson held off Mike Trout in MVP voting (no small feat) and helped the Jays get all the way to the ALCS, breaking their long playoff drought.
7. World Series Final Play – 1992
To say the Jays had sipped from the bitter cup of disappointment prior to 1992 would be an understatement. Thrice to the ALCS in 1985, 1989 and 1991, thrice sent packing. Then the world turned in 1992, and the Jays dispatched the hated Oakland A’s to reach the team’s first World Series. It was an up-and-down, dramatic affair, with fantastic, controversial and just plain amazing plays setting the stage for Toronto heading to Atlanta with a 3-2 series lead and a nation’s hopes on the line. Dave Winfield put the Jays up 4-2 in the top of the 11th, and Mike Timlin nailed it shut, throwing out bunting speedster Otis Nixon for the final out, and a huge win.
6. The Bat Flip
Easily the most iconic Blue Jays moment in recent memory, Jose Bautista’s seventh inning three-run bomb in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS will go down in history. After a controversial top half of the seventh saw the Texas Rangers take the lead on a fluke play, fans in Toronto rained down beer cans and debris onto the field in protest (after umps reviewed the call twice). In the bottom half of the inning, a series of Texas errors set the stage for Joey Bats to club a 1-1 pitch deep into the stands of the Roger Center to give the Jays a 6-3 lead. But it was Bautista’s celebration that went viral, as he stood at home plate admiring his blast before flipping the bat into the air with the utmost of swag. The Jays would hang on to win the game (and therefore the series) and one of the most iconic images in Jays history was born.
5. First East Division Title – 1985
The slow build to respectability for the Jays started in 1982, when they didn’t finish dead last for the first time in their brief history (6th in the AL East). In 1983, they were fourth and had their first winning record and were within spitting distance of the playoffs. In 1984, they managed the same record as ’83 (89-73) but finished second and raised the collective hopes of the faithful. The next season, the Jays grabbed a hold of first place on May 20 and never let go. On the way to that first appearance in the playoffs, players like Jesse Barfield, Tony Fernandez and George Bell amazed in the field and at the plate and pitchers Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key stabilized the rotation.
4. Dave Stieb’s First No-Hitter – 1990
One of the winningest pitchers in Blue Jays history wasn’t even scouted as a pitcher originally, as he was a starting outfielder in college. Once on the mound, though, the scouts loved him and the rest is history. Stieb started his career in 1979, and slowly built a steady resume of 16 and 17-win seasons until breaking through, in a big way, in 1990. On his way to 18 wins, Stieb and the Jays were in Cleveland for a late season visit. Having previously blown three no-hit decisions with two outs in the ninth, Stieb was within smelling distance of another. The veteran managed to slam the door in the ninth, for the one and only no-no in club history.
3. Devon White’s Catch, World Series Game 3 – 1992
Devo was a big game player that Toronto acquired in a five-player trade with California in 1990. It paid off in spades. A consistent base stealer with a bit of pop in his bat, White patrolled center field with ease. In the Jays’ first trip to the World Series, the team returned from Atlanta tied 1-1. During game 3, Atlanta put runners at first and second with David Justice up and none out. Then came ‘The Catch.’ Justice slammed a pitch and Devo ran it down, leaping with his back to home plate to snare a sure double. He then threw out the runner at first and the Jays very nearly turned a rare triple play. Willie Mays, move over.
2. Roberto Alomar’s Game-Winning Homer, ALCS Game 4 – 1992
While they didn’t make the playoffs in 1990, Toronto acquired two of the most pivotal players in team history, Alomar and Joe Carter. Both were key cogs in the 1992 playoff drive. In the ALCS, the Jays were playing the hated Oakland A’s, who had sent them packing in 1989. Late in game 4 Toronto (which had a 2-1 series lead) was down two in the top of the ninth and had a man on. Showboat reliever Dennis Eckersley was trying to mop up when Alomar came to the plate. Alomar turned on an Eckersley pitch and immediately raised his arms in the air, signalling the most famous 2-run homer in team history. The tide of the series turned.
1. Joe Carter’s World Series Clinching Home Run, Game 6 – 1993
Do you remember where you were when Tom Cheek uttered this: “Touch ’em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”? Ask most people, they’ll say they were at Game 6. Whatever. The Jays swaggered into the 1993 post-season and dispatched the White Sox, before coming up against blue collar Philadelphia. The Phillies limped into Toronto down 3-2 and in Game 6 came from behind to take a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Mitch Williams was attempting to close it out, but walked Rickey Henderson and gave up a single to Paul Molitor. Carter then sent a 2-2 pitch into the stands and a city into a frenzy.