You might recall that the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays were 12-24 at the time of Williams’ firing. That didn’t put them in last place, because the Detroit Tigers were in the division, and they were awful, but it put them pretty close.
You might also recall that the Blue Jays won the 1989 AL East title by going 77-49 the rest of the way. Sure, they got thumped by Jose Canseco and the Oakland A’s in the ALCS, but just getting there was impressive after a start like that.
Ol’ Jimy One M went on to a pretty successful career as a coach and manager in the majors. Although he was also fired mid-season by the other two teams he managed, the Boston Red Sox (2001), and the Houston Astros (2004), his career record as a manager is 910-790, a .535 winning percentage.
He did win the 1999 AL Manager of the Year award with Boston, and was the bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies when they won the World Series in 2008.
No explanation has ever been given for why he only had one “m” in his first name.
Today, Josh Donaldson was named the American League Most Valuable Player, making him the first Toronto Blue Jay to win the award since George Bell in 1987. I decided to share a few quick facts about each of these great players, to help give us all a better understanding of two of the most significant players in team history.
There are some similarities, some differences, but overall, you’ve got some dudes that can do baseball things really well and cause some shit at the same time.
1. Was called Jorge Bell until about 1985. 2. Feuded mightily with Jimy “One M” Williams when the manager tried to make him a Designated Hitter against his will. 3. Apparently had a purple butt that he wanted fans to kiss. 4. Was a 5.0 WAR player in 1987, his AL MVP year. 5. Stolen from the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980 Rule 5 Draft
1. Played the majority of his games at catcher until 2011 2. Became a legend when he said, “this isn’t the try league, this is the get it done league. Eventually, they’re gonna find people who’ll get it done.” 3. Apparently wanted the Anaheim California Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they’re called, to suck his cock. 4. Was an 8.8 WAR player in 2015, his (first) AL MVP year. 5. Stolen from the Oakland Athletics for a Canadian fellow with a lot of tattoos and some other stuff.
In exciting news, pitchers and catchers reported for the Toronto Blue Jays today, February 22… along with the Minnesota Twins, they were the last team to report to Spring Training. Which means the injuries to their pitching staff will take place just slightly later than all the other teams. That counts as win number one, I’d say.
Now, speaking of Blue Jays pitchers, we need to talk about someone important. He is the man who saved the first win in Toronto Blue Jays history – you might recall a snow covered plastic field and a win over the Chicago White Sox (the team that let him go in the Expansion Draft) – and who also pitched the first shutout in Jays history, a 12-strikeout masterpiece over the Baltimore Orioles. I’ll bet there aren’t a ton of guys with stats like that. His name is Pete Vuckovich.
Vuckovich, now a Special Assistant to the GM with the Seattle Mariners, despite his contributions to Blue Jays history, should be most famous for his facial hair, and slightly less famous for his regular hair. He perpetuated the former image of “Toronto the Good” with his clean-cut, preppy image during his brief time in Toronto, but later, blew that shit out of the water when he decided to look like he did on the card above, a little bit in St. Louis, and then a lot with the Milwaukee Brewers. Put the moustache, the bowl-cut mullet, and the “I’m going to kill you with a hammer” facial expression together and you’ve got yourself a legend.
Maybe a team that went 54-107 in their first season should have tried to keep this guy for another year or two, even if they didn’t know he’d end up with the moustache.
So, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed a Canadian catcher to a five year contract worth about eleventy billion dollars. His name is Russell Martin and he does not usually have a moustache. He is pretty good at baseball, but I think they signed him because they thought it would be easier to just sign a Canadian catcher rather than spend years trying to convert one.
Let me explain. They used to have a catcher named Ernie Whitt. Ernie Whitt definitely had a moustache. He may have, in fact, been born with one. By 1989, he was also the last player to play for the Blue Jays that started when they first took flight (see what I did there?) in 1977.
An internet search leaves things a bit murky as to whether Whitt actually ever became a citizen, but the Blue Jays fought the good fight for years, and eventually Whitt was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. Citizenship or not, mission accomplished.
So, 21 years ago tonight, Joe Carter hit a three run home run to win the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays. Just to make that extra clear, I said twenty-one years ago, and 1993 World Series. If that doesn’t make you feel old, you’re probably not that old. You can watch it here if you feel like getting a little bit emotional:
I’m not here to get all emotional about that home run and what it meant for baseball fans in Canada, and how we all remember exactly where we were when it happened (Ithaca, New York – and then I was a very obnoxious 12-year-old the next day dressed head to toe in Blue Jays swag). What I’m here to talk about is how cool Joe Carter looked back then.
I’m not going to get into the Oakleys, the necklace, the one armband, or the batting gloves with the bright red swath. What I really care about is the cleats. You see, in 1992 and 1993, we all wanted Reebok Blacktop Pumps or Nike Air Jordans. But if you were a Blue Jays fan (or, let’s face it, a human being) then, you also wanted high top baseball cleats that almost covered your stirrups completely. Joe Carter had them, and he was hitting home runs to win the World Series.
And for a little bit of bonus Joe Carter Cool, I present to you this delightfulness courtesy of 1992 Score. You can see all the cool is exaggerated. Goodnight.