JOSÉ BAUTISTA was acquired by the Blue Jays on August 21, 2008, and soon became a household name and the cornerstone of the organization for the next decade. He set a single-season franchise record with an MLB-high 54 home runs in 2010, a season that saw him win three American League Player of the Week Awards and claim two American League Player of the Month bids while being named an All-Star for the first time in his career. From 2010 to 2015, Bautista hit more home runs than any other player while winning three Silver Slugger Awards (2010, 2011, 2014) and appearing in six straight MLB All-Star Games (2010-2015). For all his regular season success, the outfielder's biggest mark was made in 2015 as the club returned to the postseason for the first time in 22 years. During Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS against the Texas Rangers, Bautista’s 7th-inning tie-breaking three-run home run and subsequent bat flip shook the foundation of Rogers Centre and brought the entire country to its feet. "Joey Bats" finished his 15-year Major League career with 344 homers and 975 RBI. He still ranks top-five in Blue Jays history in games (1,235), runs (790), home runs (288), RBI (766), walks (803), OBP (.372), SLG (.506), and OPS (.878).
Level of Excellence
The Level of Excellence is an award bestowed by the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club, recognizing tremendous individual achievement. The names and, in some cases, uniform numbers of each of the honourees are displayed on the facing of 500 Level in Rogers Centre. The recipients of this prestigious award are as follows: JOSÉ BAUTISTA (August 12, 2023), PAUL BEESTON (April 4, 2008), GEORGE BELL (April 9, 1996), JOE CARTER (July 30, 1999), TOM CHEEK (August 29, 2004), CARLOS DELGADO (July 21, 2013), TONY FERNANDEZ (September 23, 2001), CITO GASTON (July 30, 1999), PAT GILLICK (August 7, 2002), ROY HALLADAY (March 29, 2018) and DAVE STIEB (April 9, 1996).
PAUL BEESTON, a Welland, Ont. native, is one of the Toronto Blue Jays founding fathers. He was the first employee of the Toronto Blue Jays, joining the club on May 10, 1976, only a month and a half after the granting of the Franchise. He became Vice-President of Business Operations in 1977, Executive Vice-President, Business in 1984, President and Chief Operating Officer in 1989 & Chief Executive Officer in 1991. His hard work and dedication have been recognized by many & in 1988, was named a Member of the Order of Canada. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 & then in 2002 was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. From 1997 until 2002, Paul was President & COO of Major League Baseball in New York City. He then returned to Toronto in 2002 & served on the board of a number of philanthropic endeavours. On October 14, 2008, was appointed CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays on an interim basis, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the baseball club & Rogers Centre. On October 27, 2009 had the interim tag lifted and was appointed CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre. Following the 2015 season, Paul retired as Mark Shapiro replaced him as President & CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays & Rogers Centre.
GEORGE BELL spent nine seasons with Toronto and ranks 3rd in club history in total bases (2201), RBI (740) and extra base hits (471).Is one of six players in the Club's history to have hit at least 200 home runs as a Blue Jay, ranking 6th with 202.In 1987, he was named the American League MVP, the only Blue Jay in club history to achieve the honour. That season he batted .308 with 47 home runs & 134 RBI. Made his first of two All Star appearances in 1987 when he became the first Blue Jay ever voted to the starting line-up. During his nine seasons, was a four-time club MVP, the Sporting News AL and Major League Player of the Year in 1987, a three-time Sporting News Silver Slugger, a two-time Sporting News All-Star team selection and the American League Player of the Week eight times. He also set a Major League record, hitting three home runs on Opening Day, April 4, 1988 at Kansas City.
JOE CARTER ranks 5th in club history in HR with 203 but will forever be remembered for just one, the 9th inning blast on October 23 to win the 1993 World Series. In 1,039 games from 1991 to 1997 with Toronto, hit .257 with 578 runs scored, 218 2B, 28 3B, 203 HR with 736 RBI and 78 SB. During his seven seasons he represented Toronto in five All-Star games including 1991 in Toronto, his first season with the Blue Jays after he was acquired from San Diego along with Roberto Alomar on December 5, 1990 in exchange for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff. Along with his tremendous on-field accomplishments, Joe and his wife were active off the field as the Diana & Joe Carter Foundation operated the "Jumpin' with Joe" program which provided needy children throughout the Toronto area with a day at Teen-Ranch, Christian Youth Camp and tickets for a Toronto Blue Jays game where Joe would speak to all of the children. He worked with many other charities including Ronald McDonald House and also hosted an annual charity golf tournament. In his 16 year Major League career, hit .259 with 432 2B, 396 HR and 1,445 RBI while playing for the Chicago Cubs (1983), Cleveland Indians (1984-1989), San Diego Padres (1990), Toronto Blue Jays (1991-1997), Baltimore Orioles (1998) and the San Francisco Giants (1998).
TOM CHEEK, who called the first 4,306 regular-season and 41 postseason games in Toronto Blue Jays history, was selected as the 2013 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Cheek, who passed away after a lengthy and brave battle with brain cancer on Oct.9, 2005, was honoured as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2013, July 26-29 in Cooperstown, New York. He stood as the radio voice of the Blue Jays and, as one fan wrote, the "soundtrack of summer in Toronto" since the club's inception through 2004.He broadcast 4,306 consecutive regular season games (including 41 postseason contests) from 1977 through the midway point of the 2004 season when he was called away from the booth first by the sudden passing of his father and later by his own personal health problems. The banner in the Level of Excellence bearing his name, first unveiled in formal ceremonies held on August 29, 2004, is adorned with the number 4,306.That pays tribute to his longevity as the iron-man of baseball broadcasting .A veteran of the radio industry, he first joined the Blue Jays prior to the club's inaugural season after spending three seasons working on Montreal Expos broadcasts. Tom had been calling the balls, strikes and home runs starting with Doug Ault's big blasts on Opening Day in 1977.His call of Joe Carter's dramatic home run to win the 1993 World Series-"Touch 'em all Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life"- stands as one of the most memorable and famous moments in Canadian sports broadcasting history.
CARLOS DELGADO made his debut in 1993 and would remain with the club for 12 seasons finishing as the franchise leader in home runs (336), RBI (1,058), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556), OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786), doubles (343), extra base hits (690), times on base (2,362), hit-by-pitch (122), intentional walks (128) and at-bats per home run (14.9).The two-time All-Star (2000 and 2003) holds several Blue Jays single-season and career records. He won the Hank Aaron Award and Sporting News Player of the Year Award in 2000 and the Silver Slugger Award in 1999, 2000, and 2003.
TONY FERNANDEZ is the franchise leader in games (1,450), hits (1,583), 3B (72), and ranks 3rd in 2B (291), 3rd in AVG (.297), 4th in SB (172), 5th in runs (704), TB (2,198), and 6th in BB (439).Had four separate stints with the Blue Jays totalling 12 seasons and was a member of the 1993 World Series Champions where he led the team with nine RBI and batted .333 in the six World Series games. Was selected to play on five All-Star teams, including four with Toronto, and won four straight AL Gold Glove Awards at shortstop from 1986-1989 with the Blue Jays. Ranks 11th on the all-time hits list for a Dominican born player (2,276 total).
CITO GASTON led the Blue Jays to two World Championships, two American League Championships and four American League East titles in nine seasons as the Manager from 1989 to 1997.Began as the Blue Jays hitting coach in 1981 where he groomed many young players including George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Cecil Fielder, Jesse Barfield and Fred McGriff. In 1989 he served as the interim manager of the club before he was named the fifth manager in team history on May 31, 1989. Had the honour of managing in two All-Star Games, 1993 and 1994. During his years as manager Cito gave much of his time to charity events throughout Toronto including the annual Cito Gaston Golf Classic. Gaston returned to the Blue Jays for two seasons as hitting coach in 2000 and 2001.Was named Club Ambassador and Special Assistant to the President and CEO, along with former Blue Jay right-hander Pat Hentgen, in early 2007. On June 20, 2008 was named Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, his 2nd stint as the club's skipper. In 2010, Cito's last season as manager, led the Blue Jays to an 85-77 record. Has a club-high 913 victories as the Blue Jays manager (913-851 overall).
PAT GILLICK, who was instrumental in building the organization from an expansion team in 1977 to World Series Champions in 1992 and 1993, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 24, 2011 along with the player he brought over from San Diego to Toronto, Roberto Alomar. Was the 6th man to be honoured by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Level of Excellence in August of 2002.Began his career with the Blue Jays in 1976 as the VP of Player Personnel. Was responsible for the development of players like Dave Stieb, Jesse Barfield and Jimmy Key through the draft and utilized the Major League Rule 5 Draft to secure talents such as Willie Upshaw, George Bell, Jim Gott and Kelly Gruber. Was known for completing shrewd trades to acquire the likes of Alfredo Griffin, Damaso Garcia, Fred McGriff, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter and assembling talent like Tom Henke, Devon White, Dave Winfield, Jack Morris and Paul Molitor. During his tenure, the Blue Jays produced 11 consecutive winning seasons from 1983 to 1993 and in that span, brought five American League East Division titles to Toronto, two American League Championships and World Series victories in 1992 and 1993.
ROY HALLADAY was drafted by the Blue Jays as the 17th overall pick in 1995 out of Denver, CO. In only his second big league start in 1998, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Tigers for a complete game win. When the 2000 season started, Roy began his year with the Dunedin Blue Jays, where his hard work, determination, and resilience resulted in him recreating himself as a pitcher, both physically and mentally.
Over the 11 seasons that followed, Halladay cemented his imprint on the game as one of the greatest pitchers of his generation. Among his accomplishments included eight All-Star appearances and two Cy Young awards - one of six pitchers to win the honour in both the American and National Leagues. At the time of his retirement, he was the active Major League leader in complete games with 67, including 20 shutouts.
DAVE STIEB is the franchise leader in wins (175), IP (2873.0), SO (1658), GS (408), ShO (30) and CG (103). Spent 15 seasons with Toronto, longer than any player in franchise history. Appeared in an AL record seven All-Star Games and was the starting pitcher in both 1983 and 1984. Recorded the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history on September 2, 1990 vs. the Indians in Cleveland. In 1982, was named the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year after a 17-14 season with a 3.25 ERA and led the league in IP (288.0) and CG (20). Was the Blue Jays Pitcher of the Year six times, a three-time winner of the AL Pitcher of the Month and a three-time winner of the AL Player of the Week.