Every Jays fan has their own memories of the team. What those memories are of likely depends how old you are and how long you’ve been following the team. If you’ve been a fan since the inaugural season in ’77 your greatest memory might be watching a young and up and coming Jays teams playing through the elements at old Exhibition Stadium. Someone who was a kid like me in the early 90′s may have fond memories of the World Series years, while young Jays fans who weren’t even alive in ’92 or ’93 (anyone under the age of 19) biggest Jays memories likely involve Roy Halladay or Jose Bautista.
I was in grade five when the Jays first won it all in 1992 and first jumped on the Jays bandwagon a few years earlier when I was eight years old. My love of the Jays began during the days of Tony Fernandez (the first time), Kelly Gruber, George Bell and Dave Stieb. So, my memories range from the late 90′s up to today. When I think of the Jays usually one of these 10 memories is the first thing to come to mind. Listed in chronological order, sort of…
10. Mookie saves the day
This is one of my oldest memories of the Jays, although I can’t actually remember when it happened. I know from the players involved it was either ’89 or ’90 (I’m pretty sure it’s ’90). The Jays were trying to hold onto a ninth inning lead. There were a couple runners on and it looked like the Jays were “going to blow another” one as my dad used to say.
The batter (sorry don’t remember who that was) hit a rocket to the left-center gap, off the bat my dad said something like “that’s it” or “not again,” because it looked like this one was over. The ball didn’t have enough height to clear the fence but was at least going to be extra bases when it slammed off the wall. Suddenly out of nowhere Mookie Wilson came flying into the picture and snags the ball out of mid-air – game over Jays win.
It was amazing and to an eight-year-old it was simply outstanding. If anyone remembers anything more about that game or even knows then it happened I’d love to hear about it. Most baseball fans likely think of ’86 and Bill Buckner when someone says the name Mookie Wilson, but for me it’s Mookie soaring in like Super Man and saving the day.
9. My first game at Skydome
My first game at the Skydome was August 12, 1992. I’ve got a pic of my 1992 Jays calendar with the date circled below. My family spent a week in Toronto seeing the usual tourist sites (CN Tower, Canada’s Wonderland, etc.) and a pair of Jays games against the Orioles.
The first thing I remember about the ‘dome is how big it looks in person when you’re 10 years old. When you step out of the concourse and see the green (albeit fake) field it takes you aback to just how big it is. You just have to stop for a second and take it all in and I’ve done the same thing every time I’ve gone since. I just stop at the top of the steps for a second and look out before going to our seats.
The second thing that hit me was just how blue everything was. The seats, the walls, the dugouts, the blue is just so bold. These were the days before HD TV and flat screen TVs and the field looked a lot differently in person than it did on TV.
I don’t remember a lot from that game but according to Baseball Cube the Jays lost 11-4 and Jimmy Key had a rough day, giving up five runs in 3 1-3 innings. I do remember that Joe Carter hit a big home run that landed in the section next to us and in the second game we saw Kelly Gruber, my favorite player, hit a screamer that went off the glove of Brady Anderson and ended up as a triple. The Jays won that game 4-2.
8. 1992 World Series Game 6
Everyone knows what happened in Game 6 so I won’t go into detail as to what happened. You know, Winfield’s two-run double in extra innings, yada, yada, yada Nixon bunts, Timlin on it, throws to first everyone goes crazy. I watched that game from first pitch to final out in our basement and went wild when the ball landed in Carter’s glove.
Watching the game in Nova Scotia was a little different than everyone in the country (other than Newfoundland) because an 11-inning game ends pretty damn late in the Maritimes. I don’t remember the exact time, but it was well past midnight when Winfield hit that double down the left field line. Staying up to the the scrapes of dawn to watch your team win the World Series is really cool when you’re 11 years old.
7. Dave Winfield comes to Wolfville
Not long after the Jays won the ’92 World Series it was announced that Dave Winfield was coming to Wolfville as the main speaker at a “Don’t do drugs” event. For anyone that doesn’t know, Wolfville is a small town in Nova Scotia known for being the home to Acadia University. For Winfield to be coming there seemed pretty odd, but we didn’t care, it was Dave Winfield!
I don’t remember a whole lot about that night, except that Winfield is a really big guy when you’re that close to him and he spoke about not doing drugs and all that jazz and people screamed and hollered every time he was mentioned or stood up. I think there were a few “Winfield Wants Noise” signs in the crowd. Winfield also had to repeatedly answer questions regarding when he was going to resign with the Jays.
I brought a Winfield card down in the hopes of getting it signed, but Winfield wasn’t giving autographs that night. You can’t blame him really though. He would have been there all night if he was signing stuff. I got lucky though. As we were leaving my dad spotted Murray Brown, someone he had known growing up. Murray was now on the RCMP drug squad and was part of Winfield’s security entourage for the night. My dad slipped him my card and he said he’d see if he could get it signed for me. I got it in the mail not long after with Winfield signature scrolled across it. That’s a picture of it below. Sometimes it really pays to know the right people.
6. 1993 World Series Game 1
I watched Game 1 of the 1993 World Series in the woods. Seriously. Game 1 was on Saturday, October 16, the same weekend as JOTA, an annual Scout camp. Apparently they weren’t going to move the annual event just because the Jays were in the World Series. What the hell? Luckily one of the other troops had it covered.
When Game 1 started dozens of scouts were huddle around a small black and white travel TV that might have been 12 inches. That worked back then when the World Series was broadcast on CTV and you didn’t need cable to watch it. About midway through the game a few buddies of mine heard there was a better TV at another site in the woods. We stealthily snuck away and started feeling our way along the trails in pitch black. We couldn’t use a flash light in case we got caught.
The loud blaring of a generator helped us find what we were looking for though. In one of the camp site clearings a Venturer troop had set up a generator to power a pretty large console TV. If you grew up in the 80′s you’ve seen one of these big wooden behemoth TV sets that took up a corner of your living room. Somehow they had dragged the thing out to the middle of the woods.
We were able to watch the rest of the game in full color and actually see what was going on without having to sit two feet in front of the screen. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a World Series game in the middle of the woods on a TV that probably weight at least 100 pounds.
5. 1993 World Series Game 6
“Well hit down the left field line” or “touch’em all Joe,” however you heard it any respectable Jays fans knows where they were when Joe Carter ended the ’93 World Series with a home run off Mitch Williams. I was in my brother’s room watching the ninth inning unfold.
Game 6 in ’93 wasn’t as late as Game 6 in ’92, but it was still late enough on the far east coast. What I’m about to write most of you probably won’t believe, but it’s true. When Joe stepped up to the plate I said to my mom and brother “Joe’s going deep.” Was that just wishful thinking or a psychic prediction? More likely just some crazy ramblings of an 12-year-old that came thankfully came true. I still get chills when I see replays of that home run to this day. Greatest sports moment of my life, which may never be topped.
4. Juan Guzman comes to town
When I was in grade six Juan Guzman came to Dartmouth to sign autographs at the Super Store. That kind of stuff just didn’t happen in Nova Scotia very often. Actually very often means never as this was well before the Jays Winter Tour started.
Me, Tom D’Entremont, Kevin Garroway and Adam Harding crammed into my mom’s car after school and waited in line for a few hours with a few hundred other Jays fans for Guzman to arrive. I wonder if any of my friends (who I haven’t seen in years) remember that day too and whatever happened to the cards and balls they got signed?
There was a huge line of kids and adults waiting to see Guzman with baseball cards, balls, hats, jerseys, posters for an autograph. I ended up getting a card and a ball signed by Guzman who was wearing both World Series rings. If you’ve never seen a ’92 or 93′ World Series ring up close they’re huge and the diamonds shine like stars.
Waiting in line earlier this year at the Winter Tour to see Arencibia, Cecil, Thames and Alomar took me back to that day and reminded me what it was like to be a young Jays fan again.
3. Mo Vaughn tries to break the Jumbo-Tron.
In 1996 we took another trip to Toronto to see a few more Jays games. We saw Texas one day and Boston the next. For the Boston game we watched from Sightlines Restaurant. That’s what it’s called now anyway and I don’t think the name has changed since then. If you’ve never watched a game from Sightlines I highly recommend it. Not only do you get a pretty good meal, it’s also a really cool perspective to watch the game from high above center field.
Before the game I was watching the Red Sox take batting practice when a ball bounced off the Jumbo-Tron above us. What the hell? No one can hit a ball that far even in batting practice. I started looking around trying to find where the ball came from and suddenly another ball thumped off the facing of the restaurant. That’s also a near impossible shot from home plate.
I stuck my head over the edge and Mo Vaughn was standing in center field knocking balls off in the direction of the stands, except none of them were going into the stands. The balls were either bouncing off the facing of Sightlines or bouncing off the Jumbo-Tron. He knocked a few more soft shots off the big screen before heading back to the dugout. The moral of the story is Mo Vaughn was a douche.
2. Toronto Trip 2001
In the spring of 2001 I had just finished my first year of college. My best friend from Junior High and High School Jason decided to go to school in Ontario and coincidentally his dad was transferred to Toronto at the same time. So, after our first year of college was finished me and my buddy Al went up to Toronto to hang out for a few days.
It was pretty much a wild alcohol-fueled weekend, but we also made some time for a ball game. Jason’s dad got some sweet tickets from his work so the game was free and we could afford some of those expensive Sky Dome beers. Before the game I went down the third base line to try and snag a ball during batting practice.
The Jays were playing the Oakland A’s and I got lucky as whoever was in the cage chopped one down the line. The ball didn’t reach the wall, but Johnny Damon hustled over picked it up and tossed it over to me. Since that day I’ve always been a fan of Johnny Damon, even if he was a Yankee and a Red Sox.
Also memorable from that weekend was filling out fake applications for Blue Jays credit cards to get a free Jays 25th Anniversary t-shirt and hat, wearing rally caps late in the game and heckling all the A’s hitters. We also hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for some dinner after the game where Jason left the biggest tip (percentage wise) I’ve ever seen. He got a $9 sandwich and paid with a $20 bill telling the waitress to keep the change. I think the flowing beers and the good looks of the waitress had something to do with that though. I can’t believe that was almost 11 years ago.
1. Jays TV in the ’90s
Watching the Jays on TV in the 80′s and 90′s was a lot different than it is today. I’m not saying watching the Jays on SportsNet is bad, it’s just not the same as it was in the ’90s. Back then the Jays were on three different channels – TSN, CTV and CBC. Yes, TSN used to care about other sports other than hockey!
Not only did TSN show Jays games on Labatt Blue Jays Baseball but they also had the Blue Jays show with John Wells and in 1992 a Blue Jays Home Run Derby that was won by Derek Bell. Jim Hughson and Buck Martinez called games on TSN in those days and because of that I equate Hughson more with baseball than hockey.
What I really remember is the old TSN Blue Jays Baseball theme which we may never hear again if TSN doesn’t bring baseball back eventually. In you wanna hear it you can find it on Youtube. Also on YouTube right now there are some great videos of Buck Martinez interviewing various Jays after they won the 1992 ALCS. Buck gets his fair share of booze dumped on him and you gotta love the tacky Baseball Tonight set with host Paul Rominuk. If you remember those days I recommend checking it out.
CTV had Jays games on every Wednesday night and on the weekend with the late great Don Chevrier at the mic. The colorman on CTV in the early days was Tony Kubek, while Tommy Hutton took over in the 90′s. Too bad that we also had to put up with Fergie Oliver and his creepiness. You can also find some old CTVbaseball intros on YouTube. CBC also had Jays games off and on for a number of years (mostly on Friday night) with Brian Williams in the booth, which was actually trying at times when Williams became long winded.
Last month in our house we talked about cutting the cable off this summer to save a few bucks. The first thing I thought was no cable means no SportsNet which means no Jays games. No way that was going to happen. In the 90′s though that wouldn’t be the case because anyone in the country could get CBC and CTV with any TV. I like the SportsNet crew and the way they broadcast the games, but I’d go back to the days of the Jays all over Canadian TV from TSN to CTV to CBC, and throw in SportsNet too, any day.
Got your own Jays memories or fun stories? Share them with us in the comments section.