Toronto Blue Jays

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A Major League Baseball team based in Toronto, Canada, notable for being the first team from outside the United States to win the World Series.

Founded 1977.
Home ballpark: SkyDome, Toronto.
Uniform colors: Blue, white (home), grey (away).
Logo Design: Blue Jay.
Division championships won: 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993.
League championships won: 1992, 1993.
World Series won: 1992, 1993.

Franchise History

The Toronto Blue Jays came into existence in 1976 after a vote by the American League owners. They were originally owned by Labatt Breweries, Imperial Trust and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The Blue Jays played their first game ever on April 9, 1977 against the Chicago White Sox. They won 9-5, led by Doug Ault's two home runs.

The Blue Jays fared poorly in both 1978 and 1979, losing over 100 games in each of those seasons. 1979 was highlighted by shortstop Alfredo Griffin being named co-Rookie of the Year in the American League. 1980 saw Bobby Mattick take over the role of manager from Roy Hartsfield, the Blue Jays' original manager. 1981 was the strike season, and the Blue Jays improved their winning percentage but still finished in last place in the American League East in both halves of the season.

Toronto's first solid season came in 1982 as they finished 78-84. Their pitching staff was led by starters Dave Stieb, Jim Clancy and Luis Leal, and the outfield featured a young Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield. In 1983, the Blue Jays compiled their first winning record, 89-73, finishing in fourth place, 9 games behind the eventual World Series winners, the Baltimore Orioles. The Blue Jays' progression continued in 1984, finishing with the same 89-73 record, but this time in second place behind another World Series champion, the Detroit Tigers.

1985 was Toronto's first championship of any sort. The Blue Jays featured strong pitching and a balanced offense. Their mid-season acquisition of relief pitcher Tom Henke also proved to be important. They finished 99-62, two games in front of the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays faced the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship series, and took a 3 games to 1 lead. However, Kansas City won three consecutive games to win the series 4-3, on their way to their first World Series championship.

The Blue Jays could not duplicate their success in 1986, despite an excellent season from right fielder Jesse Barfield, who hit 40 home runs. 1987 saw the Blue Jays lose a thrilling division race to the Detroit Tigers by 2 games, after being swept in the final series by the Tigers. The Blue Jays finished with a 96-66 record, second best in the major leagues, but to no avail. George Bell was named MVP of the American League. In 1988, Toronto again finished 2 games behind, this time trailing the Boston Red Sox. The season was highlighted by Fred McGriff's American League leading 34 home runs. Dave Steib had back-to-back starts in which he lost a no-hitter with 2 out in the 9th inning.

1989 marked the start of an extremely successful five-year period for Toronto. Early in season, in May, management fired Jimy Williams and replace him with hitting instructor Cito Gaston. The club had a 12-24 record at the time of the firing, but recorded a 77-49 record under their new manager to win the American League East by 2 games. In the divisional series, Rickey Henderson led the Oakland Athletics to a 4-1 series win. In 1990, the Blue Jays again had a strong season, but as in 1988, ended up 2 games behind the Boston Red Sox. Dave Steib pitched his first and only no-hitter, beating Cleveland 3-0. During the offseason, the Blue Jays made one of the two biggest trades in franchise history, sending shortstop Tony Fernandez and first baseman Fred McGriff to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Joe Carter and second baseman Roberto Alomar. This would prove to be an excellent trade, as the Blue Jays again won the division. Once again, they fell short in the postseason, losing to the Minnesota Twins, who were on their way to their second World Series victory in five years. Toronto became the first club ever to draw over 4,000,000 fans in one season.

After the 1991 season had ended, the Blue Jays acquired pitcher Jack Morris, who had led the Twins by pitching a 10-inning complete game shutout in game 7 of the previous World Series. The regular season went well, as they finished 4 games in front of the Milwaukee Brewers, with a record of 96-66. They met the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS, winning 4 games to 2. The pivotal game of the series was game 4. The Blue Jays rallied back from a 6-1 defict, scoring 4 runs off reliever Dennis Eckersley on their way to an 11-inning, 7-6 win, to lead the series 3 games to 1. The Blue Jays faced the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. The pivotal game in this series turned out to be game 2, in which reserve player Ed Sprague hit a 9th-inning 2-run home run off Jeff Reardon to give the Blue Jays a 5-4 lead, which would hold up. Game 6, with the Blue Jays leading 3 games to 2, was a very close game. Toronto was one strike away from winning in the bottom of the 9th inning, 2-1, but Jeff Blauser singled in the tying run off Blue Jays' closer Tom Henke. The game was decided in the 11th inning, when Dave Winfield doubled, driving in 2 runs. The Braves would again come within one run in the bottom of the 11th, but reliever Mike Timlin retired Otis Nixon for the final out. The Blue Jays became the first team outside of the United States to win the World Series. Oddly, Morris was acquired in large part for his reputation as a clutch postseason pitcher, but he went 0-3 in the playoffs. However, Morris pitched well in the regular season, becoming the Blue Jays' first 20-game winner, with a record of 21-6 and an ERA of 4.04.

After the 1992 season, the Blue Jays let Dave Winfield and Tom Henke go, but acquired Paul Molitor from the Brewers and Dave Stewart from the Athletics. The Blue Jays had seven all-stars, hitters Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud, starter Pat Hentgen and closer Duane Ward. In August, the Jays acquired former nemesis Rickey Henderson from the Athletics. The Blue Jays cruised to a 95-67 record, 7 games ahead of the New York Yankees, winning their third straight division title. The Jays beat the Chicago White Sox 4 games to 2 in the ALCS, and then the Philadelphia Phillies, 4 games to 2, for their second straight World Series victory. The final featured several exciting games, including game 4, in which the Blue Jays came back from a 14-9 deficit to win, 15-14, and lead the series 3 games to 1. Game 6 saw the Blue Jays lead 5-1, but give up 5 runs in the 7th inning to trail 6-5. In the bottom of the 9th inning, in Skydome, Joe Carter hit a one-out, three-run "walkoff" home run to clinch the series, off Phillies' closer Mitch Williams. In the regular season, three Blue Jays, Olerud, Molitor and Alomar finished 1-2-3 for the AL batting average title.


Players of note

Baseball Hall of Famers: Dave Winfield (one season)
Current stars: Carlos Delgado
Not to be forgotten: :Roberto Alomar, Jesse Barfield, George Bell, Joe Carter, Roger Clemens, Carlos Delgado, Tony Fernandez, Pat Hentgen, Tom Henke, Fred McGriff, Lloyd Moseby, Dave Stieb, Ernie Whitt
Retired numbers: #42 (Jackie Robinson)

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