Four Blue Jays legends who could be immortalized with a statue
2 months ago
Regardless of whether you call the Toronto Blue Jays stadium the “Skydome” or the “Rogers Centre”, it has been the home of Canada’s only baseball team since 1989, playing at Exhibition Stadium since 1977 prior to then. In 2000, Rogers Communications purchased the Blue Jays from Interbrew, originally purchasing 80% of the team before coming back for the remaining share percentage to take full ownership, with the Jays being one of only two teams that are owned corporately at this time (the Atlanta Braves being the other).
For those of you who have had the opportunity to watch a game at the Rogers Centre, the concrete stadium with a retractable roof is a true experience, heightened only by the ongoing restoration and construction upgrades to add more experiences to the ballpark atmosphere.
One thing that is missing compared to the other MLB stadiums across the league is statues, as the only one currently on the grounds of the stadium is a tribute to Ted Rogers, who had zero at-bats and zero innings pitched for the Blue Jays. While it isn’t necessary to have statues on the grounds and the Blue Jays do honour their best players/staff in the Level of Excellence, it is an added touch that I believe would go over well in my opinion, one that helps capture some great moments or great players to the Blue Jays franchise.
If I had any say in the matter, here are some of the ideas I would capture in statue form for the Blue Jays.
Joe Carter – 1993 World Series home run
Fresh off winning the World Series in 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays were right in the thick of it again in 1993, facing the Philadelphia Phillies in the championship rounds that had Toronto fans hoping the trophy would come North of the border just one more time.
The series had returned to Toronto for game #6, as the Blue Jays held a 3-2 lead and could solidify the championship at home if they played their cards right. The Jays got out to an early lead in the contest but the Phillies clawed their way back and had the lead going into the bottom of the ninth by a score of 6-5. Philadelphia brought in their closer Mitch Williams to finish the game but he got off to a rocky start, walking Rickey Henderson before getting a Devon White flyball out. Paul Molitor would muster a single to put runners on first and second when Carter stepped up to the plate.
Working to a 2-2 count, Williams pitched Carter low and inside and the righty-batter took full advantage, driving the ball to deep left field and over the wall, the second time in MLB history that the World Series would be won via a walkoff. Carter touched home, the Blue Jays were back-to-back champions, and the rest is history.
Failed to load video.
Touch ’em all, Joe!
José Bautista – 2015 Bat Flip home run
The Toronto Blue Jays were back in the postseason for the first time since 1993 when the club won the World Series for the second time in franchise history. General manager Alex Anthopoulos had traded numerous prospects away to shore up a playoff calibre team, with the Blue Jays finishing first in the American League East.
The Jays would face the Texas Rangers in the ALDS, a matchup that went the full distance in game #5 at the Rogers Centre. This led to the “7th inning”, where an errant throw by Russell Martin hit Rangers batter Shin-Shoo Choo’s bat and the Rangers scored a run, infuriating the Jays fanbase and giving Texas a slim 3-2 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, numerous errors by the Rangers and Elvis Andrus scored a run to tie the game before José Bautista stepped up to the plate to face reliever Sam Dyson, with two out and runners on the corners.
Working to a 1-1 count, Dyson pitched inside and low to Bautista (resemblance to Carter anyone?) and the Dominican product demolished the offering, sending the ball to deep left field and throwing his bat just as high in a bat flip that caused both admiration and controversy across the league. Regardless of your stance, the home run helped the Blue Jays win their first postseason series since Carter’s home run and “The Bat Flip” will forever live in Blue Jays history.
Dave Stieb – Throwing the first (and only) no-hitter in franchise history
When you look at the Blue Jays franchise leaderboards, right-hander Dave Stieb is featured in almost every pitching category. Stieb spent parts of 15 seasons with the organization, winning the World Series with the club in 1992 and earning seven All-Star nods. He would finish his career with a 3.42 ERA through 2873 innings, cementing himself as one of the best pitchers in franchise history.
Stieb also had a knack for getting close to finishing no-hitters/perfect games, doing so on multiple occasions in the late 1980s. He would get close to the feat in the ninth inning only to have the opposing team find a way to break things up, leaving the California product just short of the mark.
That all changed on September 2nd, 1989.
Facing the then Cleveland Indians, Stieb went the full distance, allowing just no hits while striking out nine to pitch the first no-hitter in Blue Jays history. While the Jays organization has been on the opposite end of the feat in recent years, Stieb’s effort still stands as the only no-hitter in franchise history and one that would make for a great statue idea.
When you think of the Blue Jays from 2000 to 2010, there is one player that really sticks out amongst the rest – Roy Halladay.
Making his MLB debut in 1998, Halladay’s first few seasons in the big leagues were a bit of a rollercoaster, with the right-hander even spending some time in the Minor Leagues to start the 2001 season. After he returned however, the Florida product emerged into one of the best pitchers in the AL, known for his ability to pitch deep into games when the game of baseball was starting to move away from the workhorse starter attitude.
Overall, Halladay spent parts of 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, pitching to a 3.43 ERA through 2046 2/3 innings while striking out 2117 batters and holding a 1.178 WHIP. With the Jays, Halladay would earn six All-Star nods and took home the 2003 AL Cy Young Award as well, leading the league with nine complete games through 266 innings. After being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, Halladay also notched a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter, although he never did capture a World Series trophy throughout his career.
Halladay tragically passed away in a plane accident on November 7, 2017, and since then, the right-hander has seen his numbers #32 and #34 retired by the Blue Jays and Phillies respectively and was also posthumously elected into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2019 class, receiving 85.4% of the votes.
A player who did so much for the organization during a time when the Blue Jays fielded some really awful teams.
Recent articles from Tyson Shushkewich