Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

1992 Toronto Blue Jays

The 1992 Toronto Blue Jays season was a season in Major League Baseball. It involved the Blue Jays finishing first in the American League East with a record of 96 wins and 66 losses, closing the season with an attendance record of 4,028,318.

In the American League Championship Series, the Blue Jays defeated the Oakland Athletics in six games. In the World Series, Toronto faced the Atlanta Braves, who had won their second straight National League pennant. However, the Blue Jays once again prevailed in six games, becoming the first non-U.S.-based team to win a World Series.

Despite their post-season success, the Blue Jays had many ups and downs during the regular season. The Jays started off winning the first six games of the regular season and Roberto Alomar was named the AL Player of the Month for the month of April.

On August 25, they had lost six of their last seven games and were only two games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the standings. At this point, general manager Pat Gillick decided to acquire a fiery right-hander from the New York Mets named David Cone. The trade resulted in the Jays sending minor league prospect Ryan Thompson and utility infielder Jeff Kent to the Mets. The deal sent the message that the Blue Jays were committed to winning. Cone would have 4 wins, 3 losses and a 2.55 ERA.

The regular season also marked the end of the road for Dave Stieb, who made his last start for the Blue Jays on August 8 and only lasted three innings. On September 23, Stieb announced that he was finished for the season. 1992 was Stieb's final season for the Jays before briefly coming out of retirement years later.

Four days later, on September 27, Jack Morris would make club history by becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games in a season. Morris would have to wait through a two hour rain delay at Yankee Stadium to get the win.

Heading into the last weekend of the season, only the Milwaukee Brewers were still in contention. Led by manager Phil Garner, the Brewers had won 22 of 29 games since August 29. The Brewers trailed the Blue Jays by 2 games, and the Jays were heading into a weekend series vs. the Detroit Tigers. On October 3, Juan Guzmán had a one-hitter through eight innings and Duane Ward picked up the save as the Jays won the game 3-1 and clinched the American League East Division title.

Published in 2001 Inductees
Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

1993 Toronto Blue Jays

The 1992 edition of the Toronto Blue Jays will be remembered as the first team from Canada winning a World Series and for that feat, they were elected into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. So then it was only natural that the 1993 World-Series champion Jays be on the ballot again for 2002 and lo and behold, they were elected.

During the regular season when they attracted more than 4-million fans to the SkyDome, the Blue Jays (with East York's Rob Butler helping out) captured first place in the AL East with a 95-67 record. Then the Jays went to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 in the best-of-seven AL championship before outduelling the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 in the World Series, thanks to Joe Carter’s clutch homer in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6.

"There was a lot of pressure on us in '92," Carter said. "It was all about business. In '93, we had the experience of post-season play and winning the World Series under our belts. We were so relaxed. We enjoyed what we had accomplished in 1992 and all the pressure was off us in ‘93.’’ Now about that home run by Carter at 11:39 p.m. on Oct. 23 – well, it came on a 2-2 pitch from Mitch Williams of the Phillies. On the previous pitch, Carter swung ("badly", he says), missed on a slider. As he geared up for pitch five, Carter recalled saying, "I have to make sure I hit the ball. Don’t worry about yanking it. Just see the ball and put the ball in play somewhere." He put the ball – a fastball down and in – in play allright, over the left-field fence to give the Jays the win, the first time a player ended a World Series with his team behind. "If I could do cartwheels, I would have done cartwheels as I rounded the bases. That’s how happy I felt," Carter said.

Front row, left to right: Roberto Alomar, Pat Borders, Jesus Figueroa (BP pitcher), Larry Hisle (batting coach), Nick Leyva (3B coach), Bob Bailor (1B coach), Cito Gaston (manager), Gene Tenace (bench coach), Galen Cisco (pitching coach), John Sullivan (bullpen coach), Todd Stottlemyre, Rickey Henderson, Devon White.
Second row: Geoff Home (strength & conditioning coordinator), Brent Andrews (assistant trainer), Tony Castillo, Alfredo Griffin, Dave Stewart, Paul Molitor, Willie Canate,Turner Ward, Jack Morris, Pat Hentgen, Darnell Coles, Dick Schofield, Woody Williams, Domingo Cedeno, Jeff Ross (equipment manager), Tommy Craig (trainer).
Back row: Juan Guzman, Randy Knorr, Domingo Martinez, Tony Fernandez, Al Leiter, Duane Ward, John Olerud, Danny Cox, Mark Eichhorn, Mike Timlin, Joe Carter, Scott Brow, Ed Sprague, Rob Butler. Not present for photo: Rich Hacker (3B coach)

Published in 2002 Inductees
Sunday, 23 March 2014 20:00

Cito Gaston

Clarence Edwin "Cito" Gaston born March 17, 1944) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager. His major league career as a player lasted from 1967–1978, most notably for the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves. His managerial career was with the Toronto Blue Jays where he became the first African-American manager in Major League history to win a World Series title.

Gaston managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2008 to 2010. During this time, he managed the Blue Jays to four Division Titles (1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993).

Gaston began his decade-long playing career in 1967 with the Atlanta Braves, appearing in nine games. The following year he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the expansion draft, first playing for them in 1969. He had his best individual season in 1970, when he batted .318 with 29 home runs, 92 runs scored and 93 RBI, and was selected to the National League All-Star team.

Gaston became the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982. Gaston remained the hitting instructor until 15 May 1989, when he took over managerial duties from Jimy Williams. Under Gaston's leadership, Toronto transformed from a sub-.500 team to the eventual division winners, going 89–73.

As a coach and manager, Gaston was considered a player's manager. He was a soft spoken and steady influence during years that saw a large group of talented, high salaried players grace the Blue Jays uniform. The franchise led the Major Leagues in attendance, riding high from a dedicated fan base and new stadium to play in when Gaston took the helm.

On June 20, 2008, Gaston was re-hired as the manager of the Blue Jays to replace the fired John Gibbons. At the time of his hiring, Gaston had been a special assistant to the CEO for the organization. In his second tenure as manager, he succeeded in improving the team's record to the point that it finished over .500. Gaston’s final season as a manager with the Blue Jays was 2010.

Published in 2011 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Dave Stieb

Born in Santa Ana, California, Dave Andrew Stieb played for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979 to 1992 and again in 1998. On September 2, 1990, he pitched the first (and, to date, only) no-hitter in Blue Jays history, defeating the Cleveland Indians 3-0. Previously, Stieb had no-hitters broken up with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning in two consecutive 1988 starts. In 1989 he had a potential perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth. After an excellent 1990 season, a string of shoulder and back injuries early in the 1991 season ended his effective pitching years, culminating in a 4-6 season in 1992 that resulted in his release. In 1993 he played four games with the Chicago White Sox, before finally retiring due to lingering back problems. In 1998, after a five-year hiatus from baseball, Stieb returned to the Blue Jays and pitched in 19 games. He recorded one win and two saves, and started three games.

Dave Stieb's name is honoured by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rogers Centre.

During his career Stieb won 176 games while losing 137. Only Jack Morris won more games in the 1980s. Stieb holds career records for Toronto pitchers in wins, games started, shutouts, strikeouts, and a variety of other categories. Stieb appeared in seven All-Star games, also a Blue Jays team record.

Published in 1995 Inductees
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 20:00

Ernie Whitt

Leo Ernest "Ernie" Whitt (born June 13, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan) is a former Major League Baseball catcher and coach who is the current manager for the minor league Clearwater Threshers. He is noted for the twelve years he spent as a player with the Toronto Blue Jays. When he left the team following the 1989 season he was the last original Blue Jay left from when Toronto joined the major leagues in 1977.

Whitt was selected in the 15th round of the 1972 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox, and he made his major league debut on September 12, 1976. With his path to the majors blocked by future Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk he was left unprotected during the expansion draft that transpired after the 1976 season, and was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Whitt spent most of his time in the minor leagues in the first few seasons; Whitt speculates in his autobiography that Blue Jays manager Roy Hartsfield had a low opinion of his potential, as most of the catching duties went to Alan Ashby and Rick Cerone. With Hartsfield's departure prior to the 1980 season, new manager Bobby Mattick believed in Whitt's ability as a player, and Whitt remained with the club for the next ten years.

During the 1980s Whitt had his best years, putting together some very productive seasons despite spending most of this time platooning with Buck Martinez. In 1985, he hit .245 with 19 HRs and 64 RBIs. In 1987, he bettered himself to .269 (a career high), 19 HRs and 75 RBIs (also a career high). Due to his longevity as well as his good numbers, he is widely regarded as the Blue Jays' greatest catcher of all-time.

The Blue Jays' fan support was at a peak during Whitt's tenure, and he became one of the more popular players; fans at Exhibition Stadium frequently chanted his first name when he stepped into the batter's box, an event which was captured in a commemorative Ernie Whitt bobblehead issued by the team in the first decade of the Twenty-First Century.

Whitt parlayed his popularity into the publication of an autobiography "Catch: A Major League Life," providing an insider's glimpse into both the 1988 season and Whitt's early days coming up through the minors. The book includes adventures such as entering bowling tournaments to win money for food. The book also caused a stir upon publishing due to Whitt's controversial labeling of umpire Joe Brinkman as "incompetent."

Following the 1989 season, Whitt was traded to the Atlanta Braves to make room for young catchers Pat Borders and Greg Myers. After a year in Atlanta and a further half-season with the Baltimore Orioles, Whitt retired at age 39.

Given his years of promoting baseball in Canada while a member of the Blue Jays, Whitt remained active as an ambassador of Canadian baseball, eventually taking out Canadian citizenship. Indeed, Whitt's coaching career first came to prominence in his capacity as manager of the Canadian national baseball team. In the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, he guided the team to a 4th-place finish in the baseball tournament. Whitt also managed the Canadian national baseball team to a 3rd place finish in Pool B at the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Whitt also served as both the Blue Jays' bench coach and first base coach starting in 2005, and was rumoured to be a potential replacement for then-incumbent manager John Gibbons until Gibbons and several coaches were fired midway through the 2008 season. He is currently the manager of the Clearwater Threshers in the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league system.

Published in 1997 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Ferguson Jenkins

Ferguson Arthur "Fergie" Jenkins, (born December 13, 1942 in Chatham, Ontario) is a former Canadian right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. He was a three-time All-Star, winner of the 1971 Cy Young Award, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Jenkins spent the majority of his career playing for the Chicago Cubs. He also had stints with the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox. An outstanding all-around athlete, Jenkins also played basketball as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Jenkins made his major-league debut as a 22-year-old in 1965 as a relief pitcher. Jenkins would become one of the best pitchers in the majors. In his first full year as a starter for the Chicago Cubs (1967), Jenkins recorded twenty wins while posting a 2.80 ERA and 236 strikeouts. He finished tied for second in the Cy Young Award voting, following Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants. He was also selected for the All-Star Game for the first time that season. The following year his numbers improved; once again he won twenty games, his ERA dropped to 2.63 and his strikeout total increased to 260. Jenkins established a reputation for achieving his pitching feats and his statistics while spending most of his career pitching in a "hitter's ballpark"—Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Jenkins had his best season in 1971, playing in the All-Star Game, finishing seventh in MVP voting and winning the National League Cy Young Award. He did this despite the fact New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver had a higher winning percentage, fewer losses, fewer hits allowed per nine innings, more strikeouts, more strikeouts per nine innings, more shutouts, and a lower earned run average than did Jenkins. It is generally conceded that Jenkins's accolades for 1971 (arguably Seaver's best season) were in recognition of his amazing pitching performances of the previous four seasons. Jenkins won 20 games or more and struck out more than 200 batters each of these seasons, while averaging 305 innings pitched and throwing 87 complete games (16 of them being shutouts).

Jenkins was the first Cubs pitcher and the first Canadian ever to win the Cy Young Award. He received 17 of 24 first place votes. Jenkins also posted a .478 slugging percentage, hitting six home runs and driving in twenty runs in just 115 at-bats. That season, Jenkins threw a complete game in 30 of 39 starts and received a decision in 37 of them, finishing with a 24–13 record (.649). He walked only 37 batters versus 263 strikeouts across 325 innings.

Jenkins led the league in wins twice, fewest walks per 9 innings five times, complete games nine times, and home runs allowed seven times. His streak of six straight seasons with 20 or more wins (1967–1972) is the longest streak in the major leagues since Warren Spahn performed the feat between 1956 and 1961.

Ferguson Jenkins was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Chicago Cubs in 2009.

In 1974 Jenkins, then with the Texas Rangers (who had acquired him from the Cubs the previous off-season for two players, one of whom was future four-time batting champion Bill Madlock), became the first baseball player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy, an award given annually to Canada's top athlete (he won a career-high, and still a Rangers franchise record, 25 games). He was also named the Canadian Press male athlete of the year four times (1967, 1968, 1971, and 1974).

Jenkins was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 1991 became the first Canadian ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The 1991 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was dedicated to Jenkins; he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to conclude the pregame ceremonies. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004. Jenkins has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. On December 17, 1979, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada for being "Canada's best-known major-league baseball player". On May 3, 2009, the Cubs retired jersey number 31 in honor of both Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

Published in 1995 Inductees
Saturday, 19 April 2014 20:00

George Bell

George Bell was discovered in the Dominican Republic by Toronto Blue Jays scout Epy Guerrero. His first season as a regular was in 1984, when he teamed with Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield to form a very successful outfield for the Blue Jays. That outfield, along with some solid starting pitching, led the Blue Jays to their first-ever American League East division title in 1985.

His best season came in 1987, as he led the Blue Jays in a stirring race for the division title, ultimately falling two games short of the Detroit Tigers. Bell finished with a .308 BA, .352 OBP, .608 SLG, 111 R, 47 HR and 134 RBI. He was awarded the American League MVP Award that year. On April 4, 1988, Bell became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs on an opening day. Bell became a free agent after the 1990 season and signed with the Cubs. After one year with the Cubs, he was traded to the White Sox for Sammy Sosa and Ken Patterson. He played two years with the White Sox, after which he announced his retirement. Bell was an All-Star on three separate occasions throughout his career.

George Bell is currently enshrined in the upper deck of the Rogers Centre's Level of Excellence, devoted to players and personnel who have made a significant impact as members of the Toronto Blue Jays. He shares the honor with Tony Fernández, Joe Carter, Cito Gaston, Pat Gillick, Dave Stieb, Tom Cheek, Roberto Alomar, and Paul Beeston. Bell has four children (Dean, Shadelyn, Michael, and Brainel) with Melida Bell. He is the older brother of former major leaguer Juan Bell.

Published in 2013 Inductees
Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

George Selkirk

George Alexander Selkirk (January 4, 1908 – January 19, 1987) was a Canadian outfielder and front office executive in Major League Baseball. In 1935, Selkirk succeeded the legendary Babe Ruth as the right fielder of the New York Yankees. Although he could not match Ruth's charisma and power-hitting ability — few could come close to that — over the next eight seasons, Selkirk batted over .300 five times, twice drove home more than 100 RBI, played on five World Championship teams (1936, 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1941), and made the American League All-Star team in 1936 and 1939.

A native of Huntsville, Ontario, Selkirk batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He earned the nickname "Twinkletoes" for his distinctive way of running on the balls of his feet. During his nine years of major league service, all with the Yankees, he appeared in 846 games and batted .290 (.265 in 21 World Series games), with 108 regular-season home runs.

After military service in World War II, Selkirk managed at the A and AAA levels for the Yanks, and at AAA in the farm system of the Milwaukee Braves. He then worked as a player personnel director for the Kansas City Athletics and player development director of the Baltimore Orioles before becoming the second general manager in the history of the second Washington Senators club (now the Texas Rangers) in the autumn of 1962.

The Senators were chronically short of funds and never developed a strong farm system, forcing Selkirk to acquire players (such as the great slugger Frank Howard) through trades and fill out the roster with waiver-price acquisitions. Nonetheless, Washington improved every year from 1963 through 1967. But when the team's field manager, Gil Hodges, departed for the New York Mets after the '67 campaign, the Senators regressed and fell back into the American League basement. The death of one of the club's owners forced the sale of the team in the autumn of 1968, and Selkirk was fired during the transition. He then returned to the Yankees as a scout.

George Selkirk died at age 79 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His successful career as a player, and the respect he earned as a general manager, earned Selkirk a place in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Published in 2005 Inductees
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 20:00

James "Tip" O'Neill

James Edward "Tip" O'Neill (May 25, 1858 – December 31, 1915) was a Canadian left fielder in Major League Baseball in the late 19th century.

Nicknamed "The Woodstock Wonder" though born in nearby Springfield, Ontario, O'Neill played ten seasons, 1883-1892, for the New York Gothams, the St. Louis Browns of the American Association, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Chicago Pirates of the Players' League. He batted .326 over his career.

He also pitched for two seasons, winning 16 games and losing 16 games, with an ERA of 3.39.

O'Neill led the league at least once in most hitting categories, including batting average in 1887 (.435) and 1888 (.335). During the 1887 season, bases on balls were counted as hits, which inflated O'Neill's batting average as reported at the time to .492 (scored regularly, O'Neill hit .435). In 1887, O'Neill won the only hitting triple crown in American Association history, hitting .435 with 14 home runs and 123 RBI.

The award presented to the top Canadian baseball player of the year, as selected by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, is called the Tip O'Neill Award. Former Speaker of the House and U.S. Representative Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill was nicknamed after him in his youth.

O'Neill was president of the Western League until his death in 1915.

 

Published in 1997 Inductees
Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

Joe Carter

Joe Carter attended Wichita State University, leaving after his junior year. He was named the Sporting News magazine’s College Player of the Year in 1981. In the 1981 draft, the Cubs chose him with the second pick of the first round.

Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians

Carter first reached the majors in 1983 with the Chicago Cubs, but was then traded to the Cleveland Indians, where he blossomed into a star. Carter emerged as a prolific power hitter, hitting as many as 35 home runs in a season and regularly driving in 100 or more runs.

San Diego Padres

After the 1989 season, Carter was traded to the San Diego Padres for prospects Sandy Alomar, Jr., Carlos Baerga, and Chris James. The Padres subsequently dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Roberto Alomar in exchange for star players Fred McGriff and Tony Fernández.

Toronto Blue Jays

Joe Carter is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence. Carter’s overall game improved dramatically in 1991, helping the Toronto Blue Jays win the division title and hitting the game-winning single that clinched the AL East Championship. In 1992, he helped the Jays win their first World Series championship, the first ever won by a Canadian-based team. Carter hit two home runs and recorded the final out of the Series, taking a throw to first base from reliever Mike Timlin to nab Otis Nixon of the Atlanta Braves.

1993 World Series

In 1993, the Blue Jays reached the World Series again, facing the Philadelphia Phillies. In Game 6, with the Blue Jays leading three games to two, Carter came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Blue Jays trailing 6–5 and Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor on base. On a 2–2 count, Carter hit a three-run walk-off home run off Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams (against whom he was 0–4 career) to win the World Series, only the second time a Series has ended with a home run (the other being in 1960, when Bill Mazeroski did it), and the only time the home run has been hit by a player whose team was losing. Upon hitting the home run, Carter went into a hysteria, jumping up and down many times most notably rounding first base, where his helmet came off from the dancing. Tom Cheek, radio broadcaster for the Blue Jays at the time, then went on to say "Touch ’em all, Joe! You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!"

Career statistics

Carter was named to five All-Star teams. In his career he hit 396 home runs and drove in 1445 RBI. He drove in 100 runs in a season ten times, including the 1994 year, which was cut short due to the strike that happened about 110 games into the year. He was the first player to record 100 RBI for three different teams in three consecutive seasons.

Published in 2004 Inductees
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