Here's how Jose Bautista's Game 5 homer stacks up against 10 other historic Blue Jays blasts
Ten of the biggest and best HRs in Blue Jays history
When Jose Bautista homered to send the Blue Jays to the ALCS on Wednesday night, it was a swing that Blue Jays fans had awaited for more than two decades, his bat flip the catharsis for all those postseason-free years.
Even less than 24 hours removed from the three-run blast, we know that it will be a defining moment in Blue Jays history. Toronto sports bars will surely have framed photographs of Bautista standing like a Royal guard at home plate, looking deep into the abyss as if to say, "I'm here. I lived. I mattered."
But Bautista's home run isn't the only big one in Blue Jays history. Here are 10 of best that came before.
On April 7, 1977, the Blue Jays played their first ever Major League game, taking on the White Sox at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. Down 2-0, the first two Blue Jays batters struck out to bring the then-27-year-old Doug Ault to the plate. Playing first base after coming over from the Rangers in the expansion draft with zero home runs and only 21 career plate appearances to his name, Ault cracked the ball over the fence for the very first run and very first home run of the Blue Jays' franchise.
With the fans already booing after the first two Blue Jays struck out, Ault later said:
Two innings later, Ault came to the plate again, this time with a runner on base. And again he homered -- two at-bats with the Blue Jays and two longballs.
It was a crazy start for the first baseman -- especially considering he would hit only 15 more homers in his big league career.
Exhibition Park's final
Before the Blue Jays moved into the SkyDome/eventual Rogers Centre, they had to say goodbye to Exhibition Park. And they closed it out in fitting fashion. On May 28, 1989, George Bell stepped to the plate to face Bobby Thigpen in the bottom of the 10th inning and the game knotted at five. After Kelly Gruber led off the inning with a double, Bell promptly took Thigpen's pitch and deposited it in the left field stands as one final souvenir for fans before moving into the dome on June 5.
It's fitting that Bell would be the one to close out the park. After all, he not only won the Blue Jays' first, and so far, only MVP award in 1987 and finished his Blue Jays career with 202 longballs, but would also homer in the Blue Jays' first game in their new dome.
Bell may also have been the inspiration for the lyric "Grand opening, grand closing" in "Encore." In addition to closing and opening two Blue Jays stadiums, he also was the first player to hit three home runs on Opening Day when he pulled off the feat in 1988:
10 is a lot of dingers
The Blue Jays absolutely exploded against the Orioles on Sept. 14, 1987, setting a Major League record with 10 homers. Some might say that so many dingers reduces quality and import of each - but when you when you stand back, the effect is simply gorgeous. Kinda like pointillism.
Catcher Ernie Whitt went deep three times in Toronto's 18-3 victory, Rance Mulliniks and George Bell twice, and Lloyd Moseby, Rob Ducey and Fred McGriff each homered once.
Roberto Alomar is the kick in the pants
Up two games to one in the 1992 ALCS against the Athletics, the Jays went into the ninth inning trailing, 6-4. After Devon White led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on an error, Alomar stepped to the plate.
It didn't look good for Toronto. After all, the A's had Dennis Eckersley and his mustache coming off a Cy Young season in which he saved 51 games with a 1.91 ERA. But on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Alomar connected with the ball and sent it flying over the right field fence to tie the game. The Jays would go on to win, 7-6, in 11 innings.
Watch the clip closely and you'll even see White give Alomar a friendly kick in the butt after he crosses home plate.
Nouvelle Ed Sprague
But if Alomar's home run was important, Ed Sprague's pinch-hit home run in Game 2 of the '92 World Series was even bigger. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth, Sprague faced the Braves' bearded Jeff Reardon (Must all clutch Blue Jays postseason homers come against pitchers with identifiable hair and facial hair choices? Apparently so). If the Blue Jays failed to come back, they would be down two games to none before heading back to Toronto -- not an insurmountable deficit, but a difficult one nonetheless.
After Derek Bell drew a walk, Sprague swung at the first pitch from Reardon and drove it over the wall. The homer matched Sprague's output from the entire season. Granted, Sprague only received 50 plate appearances, but here was also a player hitting a World Series-winning home run after getting only 50 plate appearances during the regular season.
Kelly Gruber is a cult icon
There is a small sect of Blue Jays who, if they don't worship at an altar of the team's former utility man and two-time All-Star, at least have a special stand dedicated to his works. So while Gruber's '92 World Series home run may not be the most well known or celebrated, it holds a special place in the hearts of many Jays fans.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth in Game 3, Gruber stepped to the plate, his majestic hockey hair hidden underneath a rosin-covered helmet. The Braves' Steve Avery then left his pitch up and out over the plate, and Gruber smashed it high into the stands down the left-field line.
And like the final shot in a cheesy sports romcom, Gruber can't help but break into a big, bashful smile as he rounds third base, pointing to his teammates along the way.
Joe Carter's iconic home run
Okay, it's the one you've all come here to see. That's right -- it's time for Joe Carter's celebrity All-Star Game homer.
Oh, you wanted another one? Fine, I guess we can talk about that one. Because Carter has the most Blue Jays postseason home runs with six, and this one literally won the team a World Series. It's hard to argue with that.
Trailing the Phillies, 6-5, in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, runners were on first and second with one out when Carter got his pitch from Mitch Williams. I mean, this home run is so iconic, it even inspired Drake's diss track.
Carlos Delgado's four home run day
Toronto's all-time leader in home runs with 336 had himself a banner day on Sept 25, 2003. Not only did he become the first Blue Jay with 300 home runs, but he also became just the 15th batter to hit four home runs in a game (only Josh Hamilton in 2012 has done it since).
And while we, as a society and culture, had not yet learned to care so deeply and passionately about bat flips yet, it doesn't mean they weren't happening. Just look at Delgado's flip on his fourth shot of the day. This is the flip of a man who knows that he's just had the second best day of his life -- right after that time he won on the claw machine on his very first try.
Even crazier: Delgado needed to take cold medicine and a nap before the game. See: Naps do increase workplace productivity.
The lone pitcher homer
When a team has had one pitcher homer in their entire history, and it came against the only other Canadian team and it's from a former NBA player, well, it just can't be left off this kind of list.
That's right: On June 21, 2003, Mark Hendrickson went deep against the Expos. The most shocking thing: He looked pretty good while doing it.
Canada's funniest home (run) videos
Since we started with Bautista's massive Game 5 home run, let's end with another of his most memorable blasts. No, not his 3-homer day in 2011, or his longest home run, or even his Blue Jays single-season record 54th home run from 2010.
However, it is one from 2010: Bautista's inside-the-park home run against the Twins on July 7. I mean, we can laugh because no one got hurt, but just look at Denard Span's Wile E. Coyote-esque legs kicking in the air after he leapt over Delmon Young in left. Or Jose Bautista's tired-as-a-dog tongue wagging at the end.
Plus, it's got everything you want: powder blue unis, John McDonald racing around the bases and Buck Martinez's now-classic Jose "Bow"tista.
Those are our 10, but we're surely missing some of your favorite Blue Jay home runs. Let us know your favorite memory in the comments below. Though you'll have to hurry -- with the Blue Jays and Royals starting the ALCS on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, there will surely be a few more to add soon.