Any team, whether it be professional or amateur, men’s or women’s, adult or children’s will be defined by moments in their history. Their highs and lows, their ability to recover from those highs and lows, player acquisitions or trades can all play a role.
These defining moments can be anything: single pitches, single innings, games, seasons, careers or off the field completely.
The Toronto Blue Jays have been playing baseball for 36 years. After 2,813 wins, five playoff appearances and two world championships, the franchise has been defined by a number of monumental events.
Here are the top five defining moments in Blue Jays history.
August 12, 1976
On March 26, 1976, the American League voted and approved an expansion franchise to be established in Toronto. On August 12 of the same year, a “Name the Team” contest was held to determine what the Toronto MLB expansion franchise would be called.
Out of over 30,000 entries, the “Blue Jays” were selected.
The expansion franchise finally had an owner, a ballpark and now an identity. The outpouring of support was overwhelming as the Jays eclipsed the single season attendance record for an expansion franchise in just 50 games.
Without a name, a franchise has no definition. This was a defining moment in Blue Jays history both literally and monumentally.
In 2009, the Blue Jays named Alex Anthopoulos the organization's General Manager. In just three years, Anthopoulos has left his mark on the franchise in the most positive light imaginable.
Anthopoulos immediately changed the way the Blue Jays scouted and valued players by making front office changes in the scouting department. Quickly, he transformed a 28th ranked prospect system into one at the top of the league.
He traded the monster contract of Vernon Wells and saved the organization nearly $86 million. He was able to transform the identity of the Blue Jays by acquiring young players and watching them develop in Blue Jays uniforms.
Whereas players such as Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Lyle Overbay and Marco Scutaro riddled the Blue Jays lineup when he took over, Anthopoulos cut ties with them and transformed the lineup into a young, athletic one that was fun to watch.
Although it is too early to judge the total impact Alex Anthopolous will have on the Blue Jays organization, as of right now, hiring him was a defining moment.
In 2011, alongside fellow player Bert Blyleven and executive Pat Gillick, Roberto Alomar was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Alomar was the first player to enter the Hall wearing a Toronto Blue Jays hat and was inducted with manager Pat Gillick, who was responsible for bringing him to Toronto.
Although Alomar spent a moment thanking each organization he played for during his induction speech, he clearly had strong feelings for Toronto as he spoke about them for some time. This is an excerpt from his induction speech, via MLB.com:
...to all the Toronto Blue Jay fans and the entire organization, thank you for your loyalty and support. My time in Toronto was the best of my career. It was with Toronto that we won two World Series together. You guys embraced me from day one. You were with me through ups and downs and I am so proud to represent you here in Cooperstown as the first Toronto Blue Jay inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The first Toronto Blue Jay to enter the Hall of Fame is unquestionably a defining moment in the history of the franchise.
Up until 1989, the Blue Jays played their home games in Exhibition Stadium. The stadium was right on the Toronto waterfront and had its fair share of problems hosting baseball.
For one, there were over 10,000 seats that were so far from the field when converted to a baseball diamond that the Blue Jays did not offer them for sale. Due to its location on the waterfront, it was also the site of extreme winds and cold. The very first Blue Jays game was played in the snow.
Needless to say, the Blue Jays needed their own nest.
The SkyDome opened in 1989, and when it opened its doors it was truly an engineering masterpiece for its time. It took two-and-a-half years to build the world’s first retractable dome stadium (see video on the right). It is attached to a hotel that has 77 rooms overlooking the field. It houses a professional baseball team, professional football team, countless concerts and will shortly be the centre piece of the 2015 Pan-Am Games.
In 2004, Rogers Communications bought the right to the stadium and renamed it the Rogers Centre.
Moving into the SkyDome and having a suitable stadium is definitely a defining moment in Blue Jays history.
There have been a lot of wonderful moments inside the SkyDome, including back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.
On October 23, 1993 inside the SkyDome, the Toronto Blue Jays were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. After going up 5-1, the Blue Jays let the Phillies back into the game with a five-run seventh inning. With the Blue Jays batting in the bottom of the ninth inning, down 6-5 with a man on first and second, history was made.
On a 2-2 count, Joe Carter took Phillies closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams’ pitch over the outfield wall for a three-run home run.
A walk-off home run in the most dramatic of fashions made for one of the most memorable radio broadcasts when Tom Cheek famously said, “touch ‘em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life." The home run and accompanying broadcast has lived in Blue Jays lore ever since.
What do you think should have made this list? Let me know in the comments section below. And find me on twitter @applebyinc