On April 7, 1977 Major League Baseball arrived in Toronto. It was new, it was fresh and they even played their first game the only way Canada knows how… in the snow!
They were one of only two cities in Canada to be awarded a Major League franchise, the other being the defunct Montreal Expos. In 1992 and 1993 the Blue Jays won consecutive World Series titles before finally returning to the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. There, they reignited the passion of baseball fans in Toronto with back-to-back playoffs runs into the ALCS before succumbing to the Kansas City Royals in 2015 and the Cleveland Indians in 2016.
Over their now-four decades of history, fascinating players have graced the ball diamond at Exhibition Stadium and then the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre). Some have won batting titles or MVPs, some have won Cy Young awards, and some have even gone on to the Hall of Fame. And who knows, in 10 years time we may need to sing the praises of current Jays like Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, Jose Bautista, and Marcus Stroman.
15. Fred McGriff – 1B/DH
In 1982, Fred McGriff was part of a trade to Toronto that was considered the worst in New York Yankee history. The Yankees felt comfortable dealing the young first sacker to Toronto, as Don Mattingly was already entrenched at that position. Of the two players he was essentially traded for, Dale Murray and Tom Dodd, neither made any serious impact. From the get go, McGriff routinely hit 30 homers a year and even led the AL with 36 in 1989 along with a league leading .924 OPS. His lone appearance in the playoffs with Toronto resulted in three hits and three RBI against Oakland in the 1989 ALCS. McGriff was then part of another monster trade to San Diego in 1990 that would bring Robbie Alomar to town, helping the team win its first World Series title. The man affectionately nicknamed “Crime Dog” (given by broadcaster Chris Berman) also hit the first home run at the then state-of-the-art SkyDome (now Rogers Center).