They started the 1993 season as defending World Series champions. They finished the season as World Series champions. Everyone knows the Toronto Blue Jays won it all in 1993. What everyone might not remember is the day-to-day minutiae of what led up Joe Carter’s seminal moment in franchise history.
That’s where the @RealTime93Jays Twitter account has covered Jays fans for the past year and counting. It’s a unique concept; an account devoted solely to reliving the 1993 Blue Jays season in real-time, 25 years after the fact.
Matt English has devoted countless hours to this project which helps Jays fans feel like they’re living in the middle of the 1993 Blue Jays season. With this year being the 25th anniversary of the 1993 World Series championship, the resolution is nearly upon us and the string of 1993 Jays tweets are coming to a close.
Before the 1993 Blue Jays season reaches its thrilling conclusion, I asked English what his takeaways were from this labour of love and how he came up with the idea in the first place.
“Originally, I just had the idea of doing something that would just tweet the box scores from the 1993 season,” English said. “Because I couldn’t just leave it alone, it’s consumed my life for the past year.”
With over 2,400 tweets, that’s over six tweets per day from @RealTime93Jays over the last year. For nearly the past 365 days, English estimates he spent an hour or more every single day researching, clipping photos, making GIFS and finding newspaper articles.
“If you had access to the number of hours I’ve put in on this, I’d say ‘God, I should’ve done something more productive with my time than talking about baseball games that happened 25 years ago.'”
BLUE JAYS 8, PHILLIES 5
Duane Ward surrenders a run in the 9th, but manages to shut the door as the Jays hold on for a wild 8-5 win to take a 1-0 series lead. pic.twitter.com/fBQUrA2acV
— 1993 Jays In Real Time (@RealTime93Jays) October 17, 2018
By way of his Toronto Public Library card, English has access to scanned copies of the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail newspapers. It’s a free resource to anyone with a Toronto library card. Those newspapers were the information hub he tapped into to tweet on a daily basis about the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays season.
One of the most interesting aspects about the information shared through the 1993 Jays in Real Time is the minutiae in between the games: the funny moments, the oft-forgotten supporting characters and noteworthy quotes like the one below from George Bell.
White Sox slugger George Bell, when asked a question by Globe & Mail sportswriter Marty York, responds by telling York that he ought to "get the hell over to Saskatchewan or Calgary and cover Canadian football like you're supposed to." pic.twitter.com/SE4CtUUUCJ
— 1993 Jays In Real Time (@RealTime93Jays) October 12, 2018
While the Twitter account is a history lesson for the younger demographic of Blue Jays devotees, it’s like a yearbook of memories for older fans.
“I don’t really have any of these memories. I was five or six at the time, so I don’t have any crystal-clear memories of watching any specific Blue Jays games. There are a lot of people older than me who follow the account who do have crystal-clear memories,” English said.
“This is all just a history lesson for me. These are things I’m reading out of a textbook for the first time. There are people who are reliving these little moments and it’s triggering a lot of memories. It’s cool to be a trip down memory lane for people.”
For millennial Blue Jays fans, the 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays teams may feel like a bit of a fog. The distinct moments always stand out, but thanks to the @RealTime93Jays account, the rest of the memories start to fill in piece by piece. Or even better, you discover something about those beloved Blue Jays teams that you never knew growing up.
Maksudian, a September call-up who was hitless over 3 AB in 1992, made headlines during the playoffs for his fondness for eating insects. pic.twitter.com/ljbDnKGg5B
— 1993 Jays In Real Time (@RealTime93Jays) October 27, 2017
The newspaper clippings are a key component of the account, dredging up old columns from acclaimed Canadian sportswriters like Stephen Brunt and Dave Perkins. These articles are the perfect snapshot into the temperature of the fan base at that very moment.
“There’s been a bunch of people tell me, ‘I remember reading this exact article. I distinctly remember sitting in my kitchen and reading the Star in the morning and reading this,'” English said. “This was before the internet; newspapers were this shared experience where everybody was getting the same information on the Blue Jays.”
While the Blue Jays had a relatively subdued celebration in the Milwaukee County Stadium clubhouse, hundreds of Blue Jays fans poured into Yonge Street last night to celebrate the Jays' third straight AL East title. pic.twitter.com/19OQWH95wZ
— 1993 Jays In Real Time (@RealTime93Jays) September 28, 2018
Not only does one gain a greater sense of appreciation for what the 1993 Blue Jays accomplished, but it’s also a bit of an eye-opening experience in terms of how the team was perceived outside of Canada at the time. English notes that south of the 49th parallel, the Jays weren’t portrayed as lovable underdogs.
“I was surprised by how they were basically the Yankees of their day. Everybody hated the Blue Jays back then. There was a poll that they were the most hated team in baseball. They by far had the highest payroll. They set records for attendance. They sold out every single game. Back then, they were the most polished, dominant powerhouse of Hall of Famers up and down the lineup.”
Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick, on a recent USA Today piece calling the Jays the most hated team in baseball:
"Well, I guess we've finally reached the pinnacle as an organization. We're now as hated as the Dodgers and the Yankees in their prime.''
— 1993 Jays In Real Time (@RealTime93Jays) September 23, 2018
“Sometimes I’ve debated ‘were the Jays even the heroes of this story? Am I writing the story of Darth Vader this whole time?'” English wondered. “Am I writing the story of this dominant superpower who just stole all the small market team’s players and bought themselves a World Series? That’s a thought I’ve had a lot; were we the bad guys?”
The early nineties Blue Jays may have been viewed as the bullies of Major League Baseball, but they spent and played their way to the top of the mountain in 1992 and 1993. In today’s environment, it’s difficult to imagine a Blue Jays team flexing their financial muscle like that, but it’s exactly what the club did back then.
Tuesday, October 23rd marks the 25th anniversary of Joe Carter’s fateful home run off Mitch Williams in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. At 11:37 pm EST, the Blue Jays secured their second consecutive World Series title. That’s the day the @RealTime93Jays account will walk off into the sunset.
Even though he didn’t live through those moments first-hand, English unknowingly opened up a 25-year-old time capsule and relived every detail of the 1993 Blue Jays season. He insists the memories and knowledge he learned will always stick with him.
“I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast this morning, but I can tell you some fun fact about Alfredo Griffin. It’s been so much a part of my brain for this past calendar year that I’ll always have an appreciation for the 1993 Blue Jays and what they did for the city and the country.”
In case you’re curious how this all ends, follow the 1993 Jays in Real Time Twitter account to watch its thrilling conclusion on Tuesday, October 23rd.