I became a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998 at the age of seven. Since then, a lot of players have come and gone, but memories associated with most of them have remained lodged in the back of my mind.
So, I used the Baseball Reference website to access every Blue Jays roster since 1998, picked out the players that brought back a certain memory, or thought, and created this list.
If you’re a fan of the Blue Jays, I hope this brings up some memories for you as well. If you’re not, perhaps this brings back thoughts of former players on your favourite team.
DARRIN FLETCHER – I used to sing a song in my head (still do, sometimes) that went like this: Darrin Fletcher is a catcher and so is Mike Matheny.
CARLOS DELGADO – My first memory of seeing the Blue Jays on TV was of Delgado stretching at first base to receive a throw from the pitcher; Those four home runs against Tampa Bay (and subsequent bat toss/flip after #4) were iconic.
CRAIG GREBECK – Never used batting gloves and always reminded me of Woodstock from Peanuts.
SHANNON STEWART – The ideal lead-off hitter.
JOSE CRUZ JR. – In Grade 2, my class had an ant farm and we each got to name an ant. I named mine Jose Cruz Jr. because he was one of my favourite players.
SHAWN GREEN – Hit in front of Delgado; never aged; wore turtlenecks under jersey.
JOSE CANSECO – He had American Gladiator-sized arms.
TONY FERNANDEZ – He reached a milestone at SkyDome and the number 400 flashed on the video board. I’m pretty sure it was for career doubles because it was right after he lined a double down the left field line.
ROGER CLEMENS – I’d imitate his pitching delivery in front of the TV, and over-exaggerate the part where he threw his glove out front before following through with the pitch, as to distract the imaginary hitter in my family room.
BENITO SANTIAGO – He was the next line in my Darrin Fletcher song. Darrin Fletcher is a catcher and so is Mike Matheny, and Benito Santiago.
KEVIN BROWN – Darrin Fletcher is a catcher and so is Mike Matheny, and Benito Santiago, and Kevin Brown. I’m a lyrical genius, I know.
KEVIN WITT – His photo was in the Blue Jays Yearbook magazine and he was wearing a batting practice jersey.
FELIPE CRESPO – Loved saying his name.
WOODY WILLIAMS – Always had perfectly trimmed facial hair.
CHRIS CARPENTER – Tall and lanky; was hyped as a guy who could be really good, but never got to that point in Toronto.
HOMER BUSH – He’s Homer Bush. The name speaks for itself.
TONY BATISTA – He had an extremely open batting stance and I always feared he wouldn’t close it by the time the pitch reached the plate, and that he’d get drilled in the stomach. His shin/ankle guard felt like a comedic prop.
WILLIE GREENE – In my mind, he was the greatest pinch hitter ever. I don’t know where I got that notion from, but I’d always use him to pinch hit in MLB Baseball 2000 for N64.
JACOB BRUMFIELD – I figured he was a young center fielder who would take over if Jose Cruz Jr. ever left. I now realize that Brumfield was approaching his mid-thirties. WHAT?
DAVE SEGUI – We traded him to Seattle and when we faced him, he hit a home run against us.
PAUL QUANTRILL – Mr. Reliable out of the bullpen. It was cool to see another Canadian named Paul playing for my favourite baseball team.
DAN PLESAC – Big lefty.
ALEX GONZALEZ – I equate his popularity to that of Felix Potvin.
CHRIS WOODWARD – Most of my memories with him as a Blue Jay have been written over by images of him as a base coach wearing a helmet.
BILLY KOCH – I was at a Saturday home game, which meant kids ran the bases after the game. When the bottom of the 8th was over, a bunch of people took off to go line up, while I stayed in my seat and watched the guy with tall socks jog in from the bullpen. He brought intimidation with him and you could feel it in the stands.
JOEY HAMILTON – I went to a game he pitched and, apparently, it was his first game back from an injury. I’m 73% sure he got a standing ovation when he came out of the game.
DAVID WELLS – I always feared for the Manager when he went to take the ball from Wells.
RAUL MONDESI – He had a cannon of an arm, which won me over as a suitable replacement in RF for Shawn Green.
MICKEY MORANDINI – One of those names a kid could repeat over and over again and not get tired of.
MARTY CORDOVA – He went on to play for the Baltimore Orioles and I’d see him and think, “Hey, he used to be on the Blue Jays.”
DEWAYNE WISE – Never got on base enough to showcase his speed.
CHAD MOTTOLA – I’d look at his AAA stats and think of him as a really good hitter and didn’t understand why he never got much of a chance in the big leagues.
JOSH PHELPS – They didn’t know where to put him – Catcher? First Base? DH? – all they knew was that he could hit home runs. He hit one to the 500 level in LF.
BRAD FULLMER – He always had something in his cheeks and whenever he was hitting, he’d pull up his short sleeves between pitches.
FRANK CASTILLO – He went on to play for the Boston Red Sox and I’d see him and think, “Hey, he used to be on the Blue Jays.”
DARWIN CUBILLAN – I thought he had an electric fastball. Whether he actually did, or not, I don’t know.
KELVIM ESCOBAR – I didn’t like how they wanted to transition him to the bullpen. He belonged in the rotation, according to me.
ESTEBAN LOAIZA – Every time we faced Michael Young and the Rangers, we were reminded that Loaiza is what we got back in the trade.
JOHN FRASCATORE – I called him John Cacciatore.
LANCE PAINTER – He was a reliever who made a spot start one time and I was really excited for it.
PEDRO BORBON – Lefty reliever; didn’t trust him.
PASQUAL COCO – Another great name.
JEFF FRYE – He hit for the cycle at SkyDome by turning a double into a single.
FELIPE LOPEZ – I had high hopes for him. They moved him to third base because Gonzalez was still at shortstop and Cesar Izturis was also coming up as a shortstop.
CESAR IZTURIS – Felt like we gave up on him too quickly. Was always weird seeing him with the Dodgers.
CHRIS MICHALEK – The nastiest pick-off move to first base in Blue Jays history.
BOB FILE – Reliable reliever, who wore high socks. This lasted for one season.
BRANDON LYON – I remember watching his debut in 2001.
BRIAN BOWLES – Thought of him as a guy who had been plucked from the bullpen of a baseball movie and put on our roster.
KEN HUCKABY – Opening Day 2003 against the Yankees, he ran from behind the plate to cover third base and collided with a sliding Derek Jeter. Jeter separated his shoulder.
ORLANDO HUDSON – Once played an inning of defence at second base with a butterfly on his shoulder.
ERIC HINSKE – The heckler behind home plate in Tampa Bay always picked on Hinske.
VERNON WELLS – I wore #10 on my baseball team for three years because of him.
JAYSON WERTH – Another player who came up with such promise, but never given a real opportunity.
KEVIN CASH – He could not hit.
PETE WALKER – The long reliever out of the bullpen.
MARK HENDRICKSON – Really, really, tall. Like, really.
COREY THURMAN – Pitched with his cap slightly tilted to the side.
LUKE PROKOPEC – I always dissected his last name. Pro-cop-eck. Pro-co-peck. Prok-O-Peck.
REED JOHNSON – His walk-up music was St. Jimmy by Green Day, which I thought was perfect.
FRANK CATALANOTTO – He had six hits in a game, on the road, against the Chicago White Sox.
BOBBY KIELTY – We traded Shannon Stewart for him, which freed up left field for a platoon of Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto.
HOWIE CLARK – Allowed an infield pop up to drop because Alex Rodriguez ran by him and yelled, “Mine!”. A-Rod claimed he said, “Ha!” but the video evidence proved he was a liar. Bush league play.
AQUILINO LOPEZ – He was hyped up to be our next closer.
TANYON STURTZE – I always picture him wearing a Tampa Bay Devil Rays sleeveless jersey with green undershirt.
JOSH TOWERS – Frustratingly inconsistent on the mound. High socks.
VINNIE CHULK – Traded to San Francisco with Shea Hillenbrand for Jeremy Accardo.
GREGG ZAUN – Involved in collisions at home plate.
ALEX RIOS – That YouTube video where he refused to give an autograph to a kid and then swore at a guy.
FRANK MENECHINO – Solid back-up infielder.
GUILLERMO QUIROZ – The catcher of the future. (He wasn’t)
GABE GROSS – Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in a package for Lyle Overbay.
DAVE BERG – Always wondered if he was related to Aki Berg.
SIMON POND – General Manager, J.P. Ricciardi, mentioned him a lot when talking about prospects on the “Wednesdays with J.P.” segment of Jays Talk with Mike Wilner.
ERIC CROZIER – I thought he would take over first base when Delgado left.
TED LILLY – Heralded as a big acquisition because the starting rotation needed someone not named Halladay to be good.
JUSTIN SPEIER – High socks and high leg kick.
MIGUEL BATISTA – They Kelvim Escobar’d him by turning him into a closer.
BRANDON LEAGUE – Wore glasses on the mound and was touted as the next closer.
RUSS ADAMS – “Air Mail” Adams.
AARON HILL – Was a shortstop who came up to play third base, before being moved to second base.
SHEA HILLENBRAND – Wrote on the whiteboard in the clubhouse: “This is a sinking ship” and was subsequently traded.
GUSTAVO CHACIN – He had his own cologne. I repeat, he had his own cologne. There were commercials for it and everything.
JASON FRASOR – I remember reading an interview in the Blue Jays game day program where he talked about getting traded here from the Dodgers and becoming our next closer.
SCOTT DOWNS – Exhibit A for why pitchers should not hit.
SCOTT SCHOENEWEIS – They leaned on him a lot to get lefties out late in the game.
BENGIE MOLINA – Not fleet of foot.
LYLE OVERBAY – All he did was hit doubles to the gap and the outfielders never shifted to take it away from him.
JOHN MCDONALD – I think we all secretly wanted to see him play a full season at shortstop just so he could be in the running for a Gold Glove award; The Father’s Day home run he hit after his Dad passed away was a wonderful moment.
TROY GLAUS – Middle of the order masher, who didn’t like playing on turf.
JASON PHILLIPS – Goggles.
A.J. BURNETT – Scared he was going to leave in free agency…and then he did.
CASEY JANSSEN – His right knee got close to the ground during his pitching delivery. Once threw an errant pitch into our dugout, I believe.
BRIAN TALLET – He started more games than fans wanted to see.
JEREMY ACCARDO – The team stumbled through 2-3 closers at the start of 2007 before giving Accardo a chance.
B.J. RYAN – Do we really have to pay that much money for a closer?
SHAUN MARCUM – Finally got a successful homegrown starting pitcher, and we traded him away.
FRANK THOMAS – Those were the days when people thought the Blue Jays were “one or two bats away from contending”. (They weren’t)
MATT STAIRS – He hit in the lead-off position a lot because there was no one else to choose from.
ROYCE CLAYTON – The (seemingly) annually search for a shortstop in free agency continued with him.
SAL FASANO – Great moustache.
DUSTIN MCGOWAN – So much potential, but could never stay healthy. Felt like Chris Carpenter all over again.
JESSE LITSCH – The broadcast team never failed to mention he used to be a bat boy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
TOMO OHKA/VICTOR ZAMBRANO/JOHN THOMSON – Depth starting pitchers signed in the same off-season.
ROD BARAJAS – His last name was pronounced “Ba-rah-haas” but that didn’t prevent me from calling him Courageous Ber-ay-geous.
DAVID ECKSTEIN – A friend of mine looked exactly like him.
MARCO SCUTARO – He was in the Opening Day lineup at third base in his first season as a Blue Jay. I wasn’t sold on him being any good, but he was.
SCOTT ROLEN – Not a bad return for Troy Glaus, who couldn’t wait to get away from the turf.
BRAD WILKERSON/KEVIN MENCH – The platoon in left field reminded me of Catalanotto and Johnson, but far less talented.
JOSE BAUTISTA – Bat flip. Contributor to the craziest inning in Blue Jays history. Jaw of steel.
ROBINZON DIAZ – Traded for Jose Bautista.
TRAVIS SNIDER – The prospect that got away. Had a really good September call-up at age 20, but then yo-yoed between the majors and minors, with a few injuries sprinkled in, before getting traded.
SHAWN CAMP – John Gibbons loved bringing him into games. High socks.
JESSE CARLSON – Felt like the understudy to Scott Downs.
ADAM LIND – He hit everything in sight during his initial September call-up, but took a few years to put it all together.
KEVIN MILLAR – Cowboy up, I guess.
EDWIN ENCARNACION – Cincinnati didn’t want him; poor defence at third base; moved to first base; became an elite power hitter; walked the parrot around the bases.
RANDY RUIZ – We released him and he signed with a team in Japan.
RICKY ROMERO – Struggled in the minors, but flourished in the big leagues until the wheels abruptly fell off after his all-star season. I attended his first game back with the team in 2013 after he tried to rebuild himself in the minors.
ALEX GONZALEZ – The “other” Alex Gonzalez.
FRED LEWIS – I thought he could be the speedy left fielder we’ve been looking for, but he was traded away.
MIKE MCCOY – So many “Real McCoy” references.
J.P. ARENCIBIA – Hit two home runs in his debut and I thought we had our catcher for the next 10 years.
BRETT CECIL – He came in as a starter, but they always talked about how he was a closer in college.
BRANDON MORROW – Power arm, but couldn’t stay healthy – along the same lines of Chris Carpenter and Dustin McGowan. He had a 17-strikeout, 1-hit game and went way over any recommended pitch limit.
KYLE DRABEK – Acquired from Philadelphia in the Halladay trade.
BRETT LAWRIE – The first Blue Jays jersey I ever owned, if you can believe it.
ERIC THAMES – Another in a long line of left fielders who had to endure a platoon.
RAJAI DAVIS – Woah, we finally have someone who can steal bases?
JOSE MOLINA – Like his brother, not fleet of foot.
ANTHONY GOSE – So much speed, but could never get on first base.
OMAR VIZQUEL – We have a 45-year-old shortstop?
AARON LAFFEY – Laffey Taffey.
J.A. HAPP – Felt like we had been rumoured to acquire him for two years before he finally got here.
STEVE DELABAR – I referred to him as “Deli Bar” not because of anything he did, but because I like delis.
AARON LOUP – “Loup, Loup, Loooooup” – to the tune of The Price is Right‘s victory horns – “Whoop, whoop, whoooooop”.
EMILIO BONIFACIO – Didn’t work out as planned.
JOSE REYES – Injuries.
MELKY CABRERA – The Melk Man.
MUNENORI KAWASAKI – “Bush party tonight!”
JOSH THOLE – The only man on the planet deemed capable enough to catch a knuckleball.
KEVIN PILLAR – Put on a highlight reel of catches in left field before the team realized his defence would be better served in centre field.
R.A. DICKEY – I still don’t know if he prefers the roof open, or closed, when pitching.
JOSH JOHNSON – He was supposed to be way better, right?
MARK BUEHRLE – Game was over in two hours on days he pitched.
SERGIO SANTOS – Used to be a shortstop, but turned into a reliever and never panned out as a closer.
DIONER NAVARRO – He helped turn Marco Estrada into a really good pitcher.
DANNY VALENCIA – Ran out of a roster spot for him.
RYAN GOINS – Goins, Goins, Gone.
MARCUS STROMAN – That time Stroman, Russell Martin, and John Gibbons were all ejected because the home plate umpire was Will Little.
TODD REDMOND – My friend called him, Tedmond.
AARON SANCHEZ – He held the bullpen together during that 2015 playoff run.
LIAM HENDRIKS – Australian
MAICER IZTURIS – Brother of Cesar.
RUSSELL MARTIN – Montreal loved cheering for him during those two annual games in Montreal at the end of Spring Training.
JOSH DONALDSON – MVP; all-around gamer; bringer of rain.
BEN REVERE – I was confused when he was traded for Drew Storen. Still am, actually.
JUSTIN SMOAK – There was a time when every fan knew how the pitcher was going to strike him out, but to his credit, he turned himself into an all-star.
DEVON TRAVIS – Really good player, but can’t avoid injuries.
TROY TULOWITZKI – Hit a home run in his first game as a Blue Jay.
MARCO ESTRADA – Playoff hero.
DAVID PRICE – Bought everyone on the team a bathrobe.
MELVIN UPTON JR. – Didn’t want to be called “BJ” anymore.
JOE BIAGIANI – One of a kind.
JASON GRILLI – Fire up the Grilli! Whenever he ended an inning with a strikeout, he was hyped all the way back to the dugout.
JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA – My sister would call him, Salted Caramel Macchiato.
KENDRYS MORALES – He pitched a scoreless inning last year.
ROY HALLADAY – I intentionally saved Halladay for last. To me, he’s the best Blue Jays player I’ve seen in my 21 years as a fan. I remember his first start and that darn Bobby Higginson hitting a home run with two outs in the ninth inning, to ruin his no-hitter. What always stood out to me was Halladay’s temperament on the field. He never showed much emotion, except for one time in Tampa Bay where there was a roller up the first base line and he picked it up, thinking it had crossed over into foul territory. The umpire ruled Halladay had touched it while it was still a fair ball. Halladay proceeded to argue with the umpire, like he never had before. That’s how I knew Halladay was in the right. He wouldn’t argue, otherwise.
Thank you for reading!
Do you remember past players of your favourite team? Feel free share your stories below.