Toronto Blue Jays

From BR Bullpen

Toronto Blue Jays logo

Franchise Record: (through 2021) 3,506-3,557-3 (.496)

Post Season Record: 31-32 (.492)

World Series Titles: 2 (1992, 1993)

American League Pennants: 2 (1992, 1993)

Playoffs: 8 (1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2015, 2016, 2020)

Ballparks: Exhibition Stadium (April 7, 1977-May 28, 1989) (43,737); Rogers Centre (June 5, 1989-) (50,516); Sahlen Field (Buffalo, NY 2020-2021); TD Ballpark (Dunedin, FL 2021)

Franchise Players: Dave Stieb, George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Jimmy Key, Tom Henke, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista; Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson

Retired Numbers: 12 (Roberto Alomar); 32 (Roy Halladay); 42 (Jackie Robinson - retired throughout baseball)

Team History[edit]

The Blue Jays' original logo used from 1977 to 1997

The Toronto Blue Jays were created in the expansion of 1977. The team played in old Exhibition Stadium, before relocating in 1989 to the Skydome (now named Rogers Centre), the first stadium with a retractable roof in major league history. The franchise's first five years of life were dismal, but the Jays were able to develop a winner in the early 1980s by sticking with a core of young players. The basic core that bridged the gap from the last place team of 1980 to the AL East winning 1985 Blue Jays was:

The team became competitive in 1982 finishing 78-84. The franchise had its first winning record in 1983. The 1984 Blue Jays found their first star in George Bell and added a veteran starter, Doyle Alexander. In 1985, under skipper Bobby Cox, Jesse Barfield emerged as a star, and Tony Fernandez replaced the departed Alfredo Griffin, resulting in the franchise's first postseason appearance. The team was competitive through the 1980s and eventually won the World Series in 1992 and repeated in 1993. From 1985 to 1993, the Jays were the dominant team in the AL East, winning 5 divisional titles (1985, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993) and two world championships (1992 and 1993). In 1992, led by the talent of 2B Roberto Alomar, CF Devon White, RF Joe Carter, 1B John Olerud, DH Dave Winfield, and pitchers Jack Morris, Juan Guzman, David Cone and Duane Ward, the Jays became the first - and so far only - foreign team to win a World Series, defeating the Atlanta Braves in 6 games. That year, Cito Gaston became the first black manager to lead a championship team. They then became the first team to win back-to-back world championships since the 1977-1978 New York Yankees by repeating as champions in 1993, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in 6 games on Joe Carter's dramatic Series-ending home run off Mitch Williams at the Skydome. The team then gradually fell out of contention, feeling the effects of sharing a division with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, two of the biggest spending teams in baseball.

The team's "Jays" logo, used from 2004 to 2011

Another factor which explains the Blue Jays' years in the wilderness was that their longtime owners, the Labatt Breweries were sold to a European conglomerate, Interbrew S.A., in 1995, turning the team to absentee owners who had little interest for baseball. In 2000, local businessman Ted Rogers purchased the team, but he was mainly interested in having a property to show on his new cable sports channel, Rogers Sportsnet in order to attract viewers, and not really on fielding the most competitive team possible. As one of the biggest business tycoons in Canada, the Blue Jays were just one of many properties he owned and not the focus of too much attention. In 2006, the Jays were one of the busiest teams in the off-season, adding big-name players such as RHP A.J. Burnett, RP B.J. Ryan, 3B Troy Glaus, C Bengie Molina and 1B Lyle Overbay. While the club was improved and finished in second place, they still fell short of the postseason and regressed to also-ran status the following seasons. Following Ted Rogers' death in 2008, his son Edward Rogers took over ownership of the team. Because he had been ousted from the control of the parent company, Rogers Communications, he focused more attention on the team, and after a few years, results began to show. The hiring of young General Manager Alex Anthopoulos in 2009 was a turning point. He pulled off a number of blockbuster trades that shook up the team and eventually found a core of excellent hitters around RF Jose Bautista, DH Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Josh Donaldson and C Russell Martin. They managed to insert the Jays into playoff contention in 2015 and Anthopoulos swung a number of big deals at the trading deadline, acquiring SS Troy Tulowitzki, P David Price and LF Ben Revere to lead the team to the promised land: their first division title since the 1993 championship. Viewership numbers on Sportsnet went through the roof and fans began packing the Rogers Centre once again as the lue Jays made it to the ALCS before being eliminated by the Kansas City Royals.

There was a big shake-up following that return to glory, however. Anthopoulos could not come to terms with new team president Mark Shapiro and he left at the end of October, being replaced by Ross Atkins, a former protégé of Shapiro with the Cleveland Indians. In 2016, the Blue Jays returned to the postseason as a wild card team. They defeated the Baltimore Orioles in extra innings in the Wild Card Game, then swept the Texas Rangers in the Division Series, the second time they had eliminated the Rangers in two years, but were in turn stopped by the Indians in the ALCS. After the season, Encarnacion left via free agency and in 2017, the team struggled to score runs while being racked by injuries. After making a push in May to overcome a horrendous month of April, they failed to even make it to .500 and finished well behind in the standings. As the season ended, the front office made it clear that Bautista, the team's most popular player over the past decade, would not be back, while the position of long-time manager John Gibbons appeared shaky as well, although he was given a chance to start the 2018 season at the helm. The Jays sank even further that season, and Gibbons retired at the end of the season. In 2019, the Blue Jays were in full rebuilding mode, getting rid of veterans like Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, all of whom had been key members of the 2015-2016 postseason teams, and churning through players left and right while preparing the way for some talented youngsters. Three of them, all second-generation players, made their debut that summer: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 2B Cavan Biggio and SS Bo Bichette, all of them showing promise. They joined a young core that also included IF turned OF Lourdes Gourriel, 1B/DH Rowdy Tellez and C Danny Jansen. What was missing was some pitchers, which explains why the Blue Jays finished in 4th place for the second straight year, but there were some promising arms on the way as well. However, the quick dismantling of the championship team had left a bitter taste in fans' mouths, and attendance had taken a tumble.

In 2020, the Jays were among the teams most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, as it prevented them from using their home ballpark, except for holding their mid-season training camp when sporting activities were finally allowed to resume at the end of June. Because regular cross-border travel between the United States and Canada was not a possibility, they looked for a location south of the border for the abbreviated season, finally settling on Sahlen Field, the home ballpark of their AAA affiliate in Buffalo, NY, to which they made some quick renovations. They played extremely well in their new digs, whose small dimensions suited a power-hitting team, and that in turn helped them to clinch the final American League spot in the expanded playoffs. Their postseason stay was brief, as they lost both Wild Card Series games they played against the Tampa Bay Rays, but the season was full of promise, with RF Teoscar Hernandez emerging as one of the most feared sluggers in the league, his outfield mates Gourriel and Randal Grichuk forming a formidable trio, and the young infielders - Guerrero Jr., Biggio and Bichette all taking steps forward, although only after a slow start and a switch to first base in Vlad Jr.'s case. The pitching was more iffy, but high-price free agent Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched like an ace, the rest of the starting rotation, seemingly held together by duct tape, managed to do just enough to let a strong bullpen overperform in spite of closer Ken Giles missing almost the entire season. Building on this, the Jays had an agressive off-season, signing free agent OF George Springer to a big contract and dealing for SS Marcus Semien (who would be moved to 2B) while signing a few more pitchers. They still couldn't return to the Rogers Centre, however, at least not at the start of the season, so just as spring training started they announced that they would use their spring training facility in Dunedin, FL as a home base when the season started.


Famous Feats[edit]

Toronto managers[edit]

Toronto general managers[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jeff Blair: Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball, Random House Canada, Toronto, ON, 2013. ISBN 978-0345812537
  • Steve Clarke: 100 Things Blue Jays Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2013. ISBN 1600787746
  • Ken Fidlin and Fred Thornhill: The Official Blue Jays Album: A Dozen Years of Baseball Memories, Seal Books, McClelland, Toronto, ON, 1989. ISBN 9780770423162
  • Alison Gordon: Foul ball!: Five years in the American League, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, NY, 1985. ISBN 978-0396086512
  • David Luchuk: Blue Jays 1, Expos 0: The Urban Rivalry that Killed Major League Baseball in Montreal, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007.
  • Larry Millson: Ballpark Figures: the Blue Jays and the Business of Baseball, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, ON, 1987. ISBN 978-0771058769


  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)



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