Backstory: Why I Chose the Blue Jays
Growing up in the Philadelphia region, I was always exposed to the Phillies. At the age of seven, through my grandfather’s influence, I began to familiarize myself with the likes of Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, and broadcaster Harry Kalas. I’d stay up late listening to them on the radio when I should have been sleeping. Although I still loved the Phillies, another team began to catch my eye in the mid-’80s: the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays? Really? That American League expansion team with the harmless name who didn’t even play in the United States? Sure, I was up to the challenge and ridicule. It was a risk, but one I felt was worth taking. Those who knew baseball thought I was a fool, and those who didn’t know baseball asked if I was being unpatriotic.
Toronto had won the pennant in 1985, but lost to Kansas City in the ALCS. 1986 was a mediocre finish, with Toronto finishing the season at 86-76, in third place behind Boston and Detroit in the AL East. However, the end of the 1987 season was a close one. Toronto led the division toward the end of the season, but ran out of steam early, allowing Detroit to squeak past them and win the pennant. 1988 resulted in a five-way race in the division, with Boston emerging victorious over Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, and New York all finishing less than four games behind. Truly, this was a trying time to be a fan.
Hope was appearing over the horizon, but at a very slow pace. The Blue Jays won their next pennant in 1989, but were crushed by Oakland in the ALCS. 1990 was a step back, with Toronto finishing two games behind Boston in the AL East. A taste of a championship appeared again in 1991, when Toronto won the division, but lost to Minnesota (a team that eventually won the World Series that year).
Closure and Aftermath
Enter 1992. After securely winning the division again, the Jays sailed past Oakland to their first World Series. They defeated Atlanta to win that year. After about six or seven years as a die-hard fan, my persistence paid off.
The next year, 1993, was even better for Toronto. They finished 95-67 in the regular season, finishing seven games ahead of second-place New York. The playoffs also went well, as the Blue Jays defeated Chicago in the ALCS and my first love, the Phillies, in the World Series.
Where did I go as a fan from here? In all honesty, I lost interest. My team had won two championships, and followed that with a lousy season in 1994 (which ended prematurely due to a strike). These days, I find myself appreciating the Phillies once again, but I can’t commit to three hours or more 162 times a year.
No hard feelings to either of my teams, and I still enjoy watching at times, but I’m not quite the rabid fan I was back then.