This past weekend, many of the Toronto Blue Jays’ faithful witnessed some history as José Bautista was finally enshrined on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence in recognition of his great achievements with the ballclub. He has now joined the likes of the late Roy Halladay, Dave Stieb, Tony Fernandez, Joe Carter, along with many others in having their names etched onto the 500 level facing at Rogers Centre for everyone to appreciate in gratitude.
However, there has been one prominent name that somehow has yet to find its way with the rest of the distinguished group. Probably to most people it seems like a no-brainer, but that player is none other than “the Terminator” Tom Henke.
Henke was a member of the Blue Jays for eight impressive seasons, spanning from 1985 to 1992. Coincidentally, with the presence of Henke, it just so happens that the Jays fielded some of the most successful rosters in all of their 47 years of existence. He was instrumental in the Jays’ success during that eight-year stretch as he locked down numerous close games to secure key victories. That ultimately led to many winning seasons, along with postseason berths in four of the eight seasons for the ballclub.
In doing so, Henke had established the Blue Jays’ all-time saves record by a mile with 217, with Duane Ward trailing at a distant second with 121. But what made him different from all of the Jays’ closers over the years was that he was dominant in every single season he pitched in and never had an off year. What also made him stand out above the rest was the way that he delivered the ball to the plate, with the uber yet subtle confidence, blowing away hitters like no tomorrow. Not only that, there’s absolutely no argument that he probably was one of the few closers in Jays’ history that gave the vibes that the moment he emerged from the bullpen and stepped onto the field, everyone knew the game was over and the Jays had the game already won.
In his eight seasons donning a Jays uniform, Henke posted a 29-29 record with a 2.48 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, giving up 411 hits, 155 earned runs, 166 walks and 644 strikeouts in 563 innings pitched over 446 games. More importantly, he was a force in the playoffs, going 2-0 with five save, along with a 1.83 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, giving up only four earned runs, nine walks and 15 strikeouts in 19.2 innings of work. The Blue Jays definitely don’t win their first ever World Series in 1992 without Henke’s five key saves during the ALCS and World Series combined.
Even as of today, whenever you ask a Blue Jays’ fan who they thought was one of the most dominant relievers in the game in Jays’ history, Henke would be the first one that comes to mind.
Given his exceptional accomplishments with the ballclub, along with being one of the most iconic closers for the organization over many successful seasons, as well as helping the team capture their first ever World Series Championship, perhaps it is about time we see “the Terminator” find his rightful place on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence. It would definitely be an honour to finally see Tom Henke among the rest of the Jays’ historical greats by inducting and etching his name into history at the Rogers Centre.