Now the last Canadian team standing, the Toronto Blue Jays are not just a draw for baseball fans north of the border for this fact, but also because of the not-too-distant years ago in which the club dominated the MLB.
Founded in 1977, by the time the 1990s were within reach, the Blue Jays had a supreme roster. In 1992, the talent on and off the field finally culminated in a World Series triumph.
That would have been enough to cement the Blue Jays as Canada’s team, while the Montréal Expos continued to struggle, but Toronto only went and added a rare double in 1993.
This is a look back on that superb run of back-to-back World Series titles for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Just Warming Up for a Couple of Decades
Expansion teams rarely find immediate or even quick success in the major leagues, and the Blue Jays certainly weren’t an exception to the rule.
Seventh-place finishes from 1977 to 1981 became an improved sixth-place landing in the AL East in 1982, improving from .438 to .481 and commencing an upward trajectory.
In the following years, Toronto would finish in the top four places of the division and win its crown three times through to 1991. However, the Canadian outfit wouldn’t surpass the first round of the postseason once.
1985, 1989, and 1991 losses in the ALCS proved that the Blue Jays were a dominant force in the division but not ready to take on the might of the AL West clubs. Still, Toronto remained a powerhouse of the regular season.
It was in 1989, under Cito Gaston, that some real hope was being built in Canada behind an incredibly talented roster, proven by the absurd attendance figures; the Blue Jays became the first team to host 4 million fans in one season.
By the time the fateful 1992 season was in full swing, Dave Winfield, Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson, and Paul Molitor were all on the roster – going on to the Hall of Fame – so few in the sport betting Canada had at the time would bet against Toronto.
Blue Jays Romp to 1992 World Series
Finishing the season with the highest payroll in the MLB and a home attendance count that exceeded the next-closest by nearly 500,000, the dominant 96-66 record of the Blue Jays in the regular season was just the start.
Finally getting past the all-too-familiar banana peel of the ALCS, Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics in six games to signal that something special was happening up in Canada.
In the World Series, however, Toronto had to cede home-field advantage by virtue of Atlanta’s two additional regular season wins, but still managed to leave the County Stadium tied at 1-1 in the series.
In Game 3, the Blue Jays hosted the first ever World Series game not held on US soil, and did so in front of over 51,000 fans at the then SkyDome.
It was a tense and tough-battled game, but when all was said and done, it was an excellent defensive play that helped Toronto to a walk-off win to lead the series 2-1.
The series bubbled up to Game 6, returning to Atlanta at 3-2 in favour of the Blue Jays. Momentum was with the Braves, having ended the three-game stint at the SkyDone with a 7-2 triumph.
This would prove to be the stage for Dave Winfield – then 41-years-old and having joined Toronto in December – to cement his legacy and finally get the World Series.
In the 11th inning, the veteran on a hitless run through four at-bats, stepped up to the plate, and on the sixth pitch, Winfield’s line drive and a glorious hop of the ball allowed what would be a decisive two-run double.
Toronto Makes it Two-for-Two in 1993
Coming into the 1993 MLB season, the champions decided to keep it much of the same, adding a clutch of free agents in December and January to pad the ranks, finishing top of the AL East again, but this time with a 95-67 record.
Standing firm as the champions, the Blue Jays would win the first two games of the ALCS on the road, but the Chicago White Sox answered back with a brace of wins at the SkyDome.
Of course, Toronto would rally, reeling off a 5-3 win at home before returning to what’d be a favourable setting at Comiskey Park to take the series with a 6-3 triumph.
The Braves couldn’t get past the Philadelphia Phillies on the other side of the bracket, but Toronto’s would-be opponents did require two ten-inning efforts to claim a couple of their four wins.
A familiar story was unfolding in the 1993 World Series, going 1-1 at the SkyDome followed by back-to-back wins for the Blue Jays on the road.
Returning to the SkyDome for Game 6 at 3-2 after the Phillies shut out the Blue Jays in the last game at Veterans Stadium, the 15-14 rumble of Game 4 and 1992 World Series triumph would be outdone on home turf.
Its legacy all comes down to what’s hailed as one of the most dramatic swings in the history of the MLB’s grand finale and certainly in the records of the franchise.
Closer Mitch Williams was pitching for the Phillies with one out in the bottom of the ninth, up 6-5 at the time, when Joe Carter stepped up to bat before the SkyDome faithful.
The inside pitch hurtled his way, and Carter managed to clip it over the left field fence. It was a three-run walk-off homer that achieved the following:
First World Series to be won on Canadian soil;
Only the seventh team to win back-to-back World Series titles;
Second ever home run to end a World Series.
The 1992 World Series offered a huge sigh of relief for Blue Jays fans, but the second cemented the franchise as a baseball staple for decades to come.
Will the Blue Jays Return to the World Series in 2023?
Since the glorious back-to-back wins of the World Series, the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t returned to the Fall Classic. The 2015 campaign that saw John Donaldson win MVP looked primed for a deep run, but to no avail.
Now, after 91-71 and 92-70 records in an intense AL East, many have high hopes for Toronto to repeat the early-90s efforts, but the MLB odds have the Blue Jays out at +250 to win the division and +1100 for the World Series.
It’s certainly not out of reach for this stacked 2023 Blue Jays roster, especially as those odds will be weighted by their opening 6-4 record. In context, .600 from road series to the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, and LA Angels isn’t bad.
At the time of writing, however, the Tampa Bay Rays were setting the pace at 12-0, but the Blue Jays had bumped to .667 with an 8-4 record. The MLB season is very much a marathon, so Toronto can’t be counted out yet.
The 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays earned an impeccable legacy that continues to be the envy of several MLB franchises and every Toronto roster that’s come along since. Perhaps in 2023, this team will join the legendary ranks.
*Credit for all images in this article belongs to AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 13th April 2023