'92 World Series Champions celebrate 30th anniversary

August 27th, 2022

TORONTO -- It’s been 30 years since the Blue Jays won their first World Series Championship. With each passing year since 1992 and ’93, it becomes even easier to appreciate the rarity of those moments.

Those Blue Jays clubs were coming off an incredible stretch of success through the 1980s that never led to the postseason success it should have. But it all came together in ’92. The late ’90s and early 2000s brought a drought, though, until the Blue Jays returned to the postseason in '15.

This current Blue Jays club is on the cusp of bringing that success back. A third World Series title is the obvious goal. But sustainable success -- with regular trips to the postseason -- has a way of changing this organization and the city, which orbits around Rogers Centre. More than 15 members of that ’92 team gathered on Saturday in Toronto to celebrate its 30-year anniversary.

Joe Carter, a member of both Blue Jays World Series teams, made his first trip to the postseason at age 31 with Toronto in 1991 after eight MLB seasons. His appreciation for those special moments takes him back to the ’92 ALCS against the A’s.

“For us to come back here in Game 6 and blow them out of the water to get to the World Series? It was like, ‘I can’t believe we got there,’” Carter said. “We didn’t celebrate that much. We had a few young guys celebrating, but the old heads, we were in the back saying, ’Guys, it’s not over.’ We didn’t come to just get to the World Series, our job was to win the World Series.”

That speaks to how expectations have shifted in Toronto. In 2020, when the Blue Jays snuck into the playoffs as a Wild Card, it was considered a success. Now, it’s about a World Series and nothing else.

“I hear a lot of people now, they talk about in NCAA Basketball, making the Final Four,” Carter said. “Or playing in the Super Bowl. I don’t want to get to the Super Bowl. I don’t want to get to the Final Four. I want to win the whole thing. You never hear players say they want to win the World Series, they talk about getting there. I don’t want to just get there, I want to win.”

It’s easy to draw lines between great teams, too. For Dave Stieb, one of the most underrated pitchers of his generation, it starts with that young group that drew so much attention during the lean years of 2017, ’18 and ’19.

“They’re unbelievable,” Stieb said. “The young talent they have, the young kids whose dads played, it’s remarkable to have three of them. They’re [all] good talent.”

In October, the Blue Jays will need another hero. In ’93, that was Carter, hitting the most famous home run in the history of the Blue Jays. In ’92, the late-game hero was Dave Winfield, who delivered a game-winning double in the top of the 11th of Game 6. But it was Pat Borders who was named MVP.

Borders went 9-for-20 (.450) in that World Series with a home run, three doubles and just one strikeout over the six games. Like many of his fellow alums, he’s been keeping tabs on this current Blue Jays club and likes what he sees. 

“I think it’s equivalent to the team here,” Borders said. “You have a core segment of the team that came up through the organization that were products of the Blue Jays. Then, the front office showed the desire to win by going out to get missing pieces before the season and during the season, trying to get to the playoffs.”

Many from this same group were back in ’17 and ’18 for their teams’ 25-year anniversaries. But the appreciation seems to grow more as time passes -- especially for Cito Gaston, who was at the helm for each after taking a hard road to the top.

“I remember going on caravans with Jerry Howarth or Tom Cheek,” Gaston said, smiling at the memory. “They’d show [highlights of] us right up to almost winning, then we’d lose. It’s hard to watch those things every year, but we finally did it.”

As the alumni gathered in a suite above the Rogers Centre field early Saturday afternoon, it was like being back in their clubhouse. They joked about how they’d aged or who did and didn’t have hair 30 years later. Amid the reunion and camaraderie flowed a shared excitement for the present and future of the Blue Jays and the hope for a third championship team to join them.