The Blue Jays were founded as an expansion team in 1977 and were just the second MLB team have a home base outside of the United States and the only team to win a World Series and the only team remaining outside of the U.S.. The very first game of the season was a snowy outing as the upstart Jays beat the Chicago White Sox 9-5. Although the team would finish with a 54-107 record, the team was off and running in the Majors.
The team would improve and by 1985, they finished the season with a 99-62 record and won the AL East by two games. This was the first season that MLB had changed the playoff format to the current best of seven series and as the Blue Jays took on the Kansas City Royals in the ASLCS, the Blue Jays came out on fire, winning the first two games of the series. With a 3-1 lead, the Jays staged one of the most improbable comebacks in baseball history as they went on to win the next three games. The Royals would end up winning the 1985 World Series four games to three over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 1989 season is noted for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was the year that the Blue Jays moved into their new roofed home, the SkyDome. Cito Gaston was promoted from hitting coach to Manager after a 12-24 start and turned the team around going 77-49 the rest of the season. In the playoffs, the Blue Jays met the Oakland Athletics which were led by future Hall of Fame player Rickey Henderson. The Athletics would win the series four games to one.
The Blue Jays almost made it back into the playoffs the following season with a strong 86-76 record but finished 2-games behind the Red Sox in the Division. The team would trade stars Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to the Padres in exchange for outfielder Joe Carter and second baseman Roberto Alomar. These trades would prove most effective as the team improved in 1991 to a 91-71 record. In the playoffs the Blue Jays would meet the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS and win only one game as the Twins went on to play in and win the 1991 World Series. The Blue Jays became the first team in the MLB to draw over 4-million fans in one season.
The team continued to improve, signing future Hall of Fame Player Dave Winfield as the DH and finished the 1992 season with a five game improvement over 1991, 96-66. In the ALCS, the Blue Jays met up against the Oakland Athletics and won the series in six games. They went on to face the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 World Series. The Blue Jays would win their first World Series title as they defeated the Braves in six games to become the first team outside of the United States to win the World Series. At the conclusion of the season, the Blue Jays let both Dave Winfield and pitcher Tom Henke sign with other clubs. In the off season, the team did sign Paul Molitor and closer Dave Stewart from the Oakland Athletics.
During the 1993 season, the team acquired former Blue Jays killer Rickey Henderson from the Oakland Athletics which helped the team to a 95-67 record. In the ALCS, the Blue Jays faced and beat the Chicago White Sox in six games and went on to face the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1993 World Series. The Blue Jays would get off to a fast start, winning game 1 8-5. Philadelphia would take game two but the Blue Jays bounced back to take games 3 & 4 with a combined score of 20-17. The Phillies would climb back into the series with a 2-0 victory in Philadelphia but the Blue Jays would finish off the series and the Phillies in high fashion. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the score 6-5, the Blue Jays’ Joe Carter hit a one-out, three-run walk off home run for an 8-6 series victory. The Blue Jays would repeat as World Champions but the feeling would be the last for the century.
The Blue Jays began a gradual decline and the team fell under .500 in 1994 and the team was bought out by Belgian brewer Interbrew. At the end of the season, longtime GM Pat Gillick turned the team over to Gord Ash as the rebuilding began. By 1995, the team had slipped to last place in the AL East, a full 30-games behind in the standings. 1996 saw the emergence of Pat Hentgen (who would win the Cy Young Award) and Ed Sprague (who hit 36 home runs and drove in 101 runs).
As the team rebuilt, the wins started coming back and by 2000, they would finish with an 83-79 record. Also in 2000, Canadian based Rogers Communications purchased 80% of the club with Interbrew holding 20% stake. Rogers would eventually buy out the rest of the Blue Jays stock and now has full ownership of the team.
Buck Martinez began his career as the Blue Jays Manager before the beginning of the 2001 season and Gord Ash was fired from his position at the end of the 2001 season to be replaced by former Oakland A’s Director of Player Development, J.P. Ricciardi. Ricciardi came out slashing payroll. Suddenly the most popular players were gone including Alex Gonzalez, Paul Quantrill, Billy Koch and Brad Fullmer. Martinez lasted until about a third of the way into the 2002 season and was replaced by 3rd base coach Carlos Tosca. Roy Halladay won his first Cy Young Award in 2003 after going 22-7 with a 325 ERA. The team finished with an 86-76 record. After trading Shannon Stewart to the Twins for Bobby Kielty in midseason, the team traded Kielty to the Oakland A’s for SP Ted Lilly. The following season the team slumped again falling 33.5 games out of first and finishing with a 67-94 record. They would bounce back in 2005 finishing 82-80 and only 15 games out of first. The team continued to improve and finished the 2006 season with an 87-75 record, improving five games from 2005.
Between 2006 and 2009, the team would fail to make the playoffs getting as close as 11-games out of first in 2008. In 2009, the franchise fired GM J.P. Ricciardi who was replaced by assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos. Anthopoulos played a major role in the trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies for Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis D’Arnaud. Not long after that trade, Anthopoulos traded Michael Taylor to the A’s for Brett Wallace then traded Wallace in July of 2010 to the Astros for prospect Anthony Gose. The team finished the 2009 season 28 games out of first place.
The Blue Jays finished 2010 with a ten game improvement over the ’09 season. Jose Bautista broke George Bell’s franchise home run record and the team set a record for most home runs in a single season (257). Even with the improvements, the team still finished 11 games behind in the division and finished with an 85-7 record.
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