I think it is time for the younger generation to fully comprehend what it is like in this city to cheer for a winner. It has been over half my life ago when the Blue Jays captured their first pennant. We have seen winners in other cities but here we have lost that. We used to be full of optimism. Pessimism has seeped into the core of the fan base for good reason. If “the trade” impacts us like I think it could, this is what life could be like again.
I was 11 years old and 1985 was my first real hardcore interest in the Blue Jays. I had liked them before but it was a passing fancy. Now that I was old enough, and played enough, to know what it took to win I was mesmerized. Damaso “my uni is on fire” Garcia patrolling second. Willie Upshaw covering first. Tony Fernandez scooping balls up at short besides withe Garth “leeeeeean back” Iorg and Rance “goggles” Mulliniks. Barfield, Moseby and Bell in the outfield, called the best in the majors. Ernie Whitt behind the plate catching Clancy, Stieb and the rest of the starters.
Bobby Cox had come over and instilled in them how to be winners. His Hall of Fame credentials boosted by taking over this young exciting team. I was sitting in the basement rec room with my glove on watching on October 5. The hated Yankees were in town hoping to dash our dreams. I don’t remember much about the game. I remember it being tight and my whole family sitting on the edge of their seats. We cheered and moaned like we were at the game. It was electric and it truly brought the family together in a way I had never seen before.
The iconic shot of George Bell falling to his knees, Fernandez running out to hug and high five him. The Jays dugout spilling out and mayhem ensuing. They had captured the first of many AL East flags. But you never forget your first. From that moment forward we expected..and got…a winner. Sure there was the heartache of ’87. The comeback of ’89. The clinching and whitewashing in ’91 and then the championships to follow in successive years. But you never forget your first.
It is a feeling that engulfs an entire city…a country. Bobby Cox had helped lead us to the promised land a mere 8 years after existence. We had watched the team grow from infancy to full grown world beaters. It CAN happen. If I was 11 now it would be the same feeling. That underlying sense of assumed accomplishment. We haven’t done it yet but to feel that energy coursing through the veins of more and more fans reminds me of that cold October day. Toronto was a winner. Other cities and organizations tried to emulate us. Pat Gillick et al and given us the best gift and we latched onto it like a ragged teddy bear. Keep the faith and faith will be restored…