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    The ’89 Jays Made the Post Season – Can They in 2017?

    The ’89 Jays Made the Post Season – Can They in 2017?

    Chris Mizzoni is a good friend of mine, works with Vintage Sports Images, and really knows his stuff. Below is a blog post on the Blue Jays and their amazing comeback to make the post season in 1989.

     

    This season’s Toronto Blue Jays are a disappointment, to say the very least. After reaching the post season in each of the last two years, another playoff appearance was expected in 2017. However, as of this writing, that seems like an extreme long shot. Through April, after 25 games, the Jays have won only 8. There is, however, some precedence for the Blue Jays to turn it around and make a push for the playoffs. It happened in 1989, after a similar start to the season.

     

    Formed in 1977, the Jays first made the playoffs in 1985 (back when finishing first in your division was the only way – there were no wildcard spots). In 1987 and 1988, they finished each season two games behind the leader – and then came 1989. Under manager Jimy Williams, the Jays got out of the gates to a pathetic 12-24 record. The low point was a Sunday afternoon game, on May 14, that turned out to be a 13-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. It also proved to be the last Jays game managed by Jimy Williams, as he was replaced by Cito Gaston soon after the game.

     

    Gaston had been Toronto’s hitting instructor since 1982, before reluctantly assuming the manager’s responsibilities. Despite their 12-24 record, the Jays sat only six games behind A.L. East leaders, Boston and Cleveland. Gaston immediately led them to five wins in his first six games.

     

    On Sunday, June 4, Toronto won a game in Boston that may have been the turning point of the season. They were behind by a score of 10-0 entering the 7th inning, but tied the game in the bottom of the 9th on a grand slam by catcher Ernie Whitt. The Jays won the game on a two-run homerun in the 12th inning by rookie Junior Felix to cap the improbable comeback. The win raised Gaston’s record to 11-7, but the Jays had still slipped to eight games behind the suddenly hot Baltimore Orioles.

     

    The very next day, June 5, the Blue Jays opened the brand new SkyDome (a game I attended). Although they lost the first two games at the state-of-the-art facility, buoyed by 48,000 fans every night, the Jays finally climbed back to the .500 mark on June 23. After going 12-24 under Williams, they had now gone 24-12 under Gaston.

     

    It took the Jays until the very last day of August to finally reach first place; a 5-1 win over the White Sox lifted them to a 72-62 mark and they tied with Baltimore for top spot. At this point, they were in the midst of a 22-5 run that pretty much locked up the division title. Toronto ended up winning the American League East by two games over Baltimore and would lose to the powerhouse Oakland A’s in the A.L. Championship Series.

     

    So, as the current Blue Jays sit, mired in the poorest start in franchise history, can they replicate the comeback of 1989? A few large factors are much different now than they were 28 years ago. Firstly, the Jays do not have a brand new stadium to move into, midway through the year. I firmly believe this helped to turn around their fortunes. After starting the year 7-10 at Exhibition Stadium, the Jays went 39-25 at SkyDome. Secondly, the deficit the Jays have this time around is larger. As of May 1, Toronto sits 8.5 games behind division-leading New York. The one saving grace may be the Wild Card spot, which did not exist those many years ago. The Blue Jays sit 6 games out of the second Wild Card – the exact same amount they were out of first, in 1989. Could they possibly do it again?

     

    Father’s Day is fast approaching. Check out our unique Blue Jays images for Dad. We also have historical MLB images and wooden signs.

    North Shore News Feature on VSI

    North Shore News Feature on VSI

    We were recently featured in the Community Connections section of the North Shore News. Take a look at the article below; we think it turned out great.

    North Van’s Vintage Sports Images a game-changer when it comes to sports artwork.


    Sports photos are no longer just for man caves.


    North Van’s Vintage Sports Images is a game-changer when it comes to turning iconic sports images into artwork that can be hung anywhere in the home.


    “Our process is really unique,” explained owner Blair Peters. “We reproduce the photos on canvas and it really has a different look and feel. These vintage images are truly stunning when displayed on small or large canvasses.”


    Vintage Sports Images owns 200,000-plus negatives and slides from a variety of sports and eras that were purchased from photographers and newspapers over the years by the company’s original owner, Eric Olsen, a longtime pal of Peters.


    From legendary baseball players and goalies to classic hockey, basketball and football moments, and much more – there’s an iconic image for every sports fan.


    Vintage Sports Images has scanned approximately 50,000 sporting photos and curated the best 5,000 of the bunch based on the quality of the shot, the players, the lighting or anything else that makes the image stand out.


    Every image tells the story of an incredible sporting moment captured in time.


    Take, for example, a large canvas image titled, “Knoop turns two over Petrocelli.” The image captures this scene: As an umpire signals the out, Bobby Knoop turns a double play over a sliding Rico Petrocelli of the Boston Red Sox.

    “The composition, the second baseman is jumping, it’s like a moment in time has stopped,” explained Peters. “He’s releasing the ball and he’s literally three feet in the air and the umpire is signaling an out. It’s poetry in motion – just stunning.”


    The artworks are so compelling that Peters says his wife allowed him to hang his large-canvas Bobby Orr image upstairs in their home because it felt like a piece of art – not just another sports picture.

    Peters noted that along with homes and man caves, the canvass artworks are also ideal for businesses – his Marine Drive retail neighbours Hearthstone Brewery and MAN UP Grooming have some of the sports artwork on display – offices and recreation properties. He’s also had his images used for staging homes for open houses.


    Recently, Peters outfitted the offices of IFP (International Forrest Products) Canada, a company owned by the Kraft family, who also own the NFL’s New England Patriots. “Danny Kraft was in the other day I am told by the purchaser that he loved the sports prints. This is another service we offer. In this case I went to the offices and measured and custom ordered the prints then hung them on site,” said Peters.


    Peters just returned from a trip to spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, to catch some baseball games and check out some of the sports memorabilia shops in the area because it’s known as a hotbed for sports junkies and collectors.


    He saw some quality sports collectibles but nothing like what they are doing.


    “There’s lots of sports photography, but what makes our process so special is that we are taking these artistic shots and giving them the canvas treatment. It’s really time consuming to get this done right – they are carefully hand-stretched. They are crisp and tight, with no slack or soft spots.”


    Vintage Sports Images has printed 100- plus sports images on canvases in a variety of sizes, from 12” x 18” to 36” x 45” with prices ranging from $110 to $595.


    At the store you can search images from their catalogue by sports, athlete or team or browse online. The gallery also displays sports paintings from local artists and features some interactive displays, including a floor ball net and sticks (donated by Floorball Academy Plus owner Greg Beaudin) and a batting station courtesy of Inside Performance (a top-notch baseball training facility on the North Shore where you can see a beautiful Hank Aaron and Sandy Koufax displayed).


    “It’s a really funky, unique space,” said Peters, who noted that there’s also a selection of one-of-a-kind vintage baseball caps and small team logo prints on wood that are handmade locally – plus much more. “Vintage Sports Images is your one-stop shop for sports history happiness.”


    Vintage Sports Images is located at 1089 Marine Drive in North Vancouver. Visit online at vintagesportsimages.com, call 604-770-3747 or email info@vintagesportsimages.com.

    MLB Spring Training

    MLB Spring Training

    As some of you may have noticed from my personal Instagram and Facebook posts, I recently returned from a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona to watch some Spring Training baseball. In addition to getting away from the dreary Vancouver weather, I wanted to get inspired by the excitement of another baseball season about to begin. That is the thing with spring… it’s a new beginning. Optimism. A fresh start.


    While sitting at Scottsdale Stadium, awaiting the Giants vs. Indians game, enjoying the sun and the beer in centre field and watching the teams get ready, I took the opportunity to read an article on the history of the Cactus League in Play Ball Magazine, the Official Spring Training Guide. This is a super cool magazine, available for free, that gives you a schedule of all the games in Arizona, as well as some interesting stories about the game.


    The Chicago White Stockings (now the White Sox) was the first team to play a barnstorming game in Arizona in 1909. The Detroit Tigers became the first team to officially train there, in 1929. They played several games against local teams, but in 1930, they moved their spring camp to California and never returned to Arizona. In 1947, Bill Veeck convinced the then New York Giants owner, Horace Stoneham, to train in Phoenix while his Cleveland Indians trained in Tucson. The Chicago Cubs then moved their team to Mesa, AZ from Catalina Island, CA in 1952. The Orioles started training in Yuma in 1954 and the Cactus League was officially born. In 1959, the New York Giants won the first Cactus League World Series, sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four games. Among the highlights was “the catch” made by MLB hero Willie Mays that prevented a Cleveland rally with two men on.


    Check out the amazing catch.

    (And check out the great Willie Mays image. Drop by the store, as the sports canvas print is currently 20% off. It’s the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life or for your man cave.)

    The Red Sox took up residence in Scottsdale in 1959, and fans got to see the last two years of Ted Williams’ career and the start of Carl Yastrzemski’s. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots trained in Tempe and the San Diego Padres started in Yuma. Charlie Finley’s A’s trained in Mesa in 1969. They went on to win three World Series titles (1972-74) while training there!


    Now, half the MLB teams train in Arizona in the Cactus League, with the other half in Florida in the Grapefruit League. If you need a little sun and enjoy baseball, it is a pleasant way to see games for cheap. I was lucky enough to catch Nolan Baumgartner’s start for the Giants. Man can he throw!


    Continue to watch the Vintage Sports Images blog, as I will be writing a few more articles on Spring Training before the season starts in April.

    Boog Powell – Amazing Athlete & Great Guy

    Boog Powell – Amazing Athlete & Great Guy

    I am beyond excited that the MLB season is almost here. For those who know me, you are probably aware that I love baseball and am a huge Baltimore Orioles fan! I recently came across this shot of my meeting with John “Boog” Powell from my visit to Oriole Park at Camden Yards a few years ago. I was a big fan of Boog because of my older brother, Terry. He used to make me watch Orioles games as a kid – and I am thankful, every day, that he did!


    Boog was a power-hitting first baseman who played for the Orioles (1961–74), Cleveland Indians (1975–76) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1977). He was with the Orioles’ World Series Champion teams in 1966 and 1970, the American League Champion teams in 1966, 1969, 1970 and 1971, and the American League East Division Champion teams in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974. The four-time All-Star posted a .606 slugging percentage to lead the American League in 1964. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed, playing first base, outfield and designated hitter.


    In 1966, Powell, along with Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson, led the Orioles to the 1966 World Series, where they surprised the baseball world by sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games to become the MLB world champions.


    Before the 1968 season, Powell lamented, "Once, just once, I'd like to go through a whole season without an injury." He did just that, playing over 150 games in each of the next three seasons. In 1969, he hit a career-high .304, with 37 home runs and 121 runs batted in. In 1970, he was the American League Most Valuable Player, hitting 35 home runs, with 114 RBIs, and narrowly missing a .300 average during the last week of the season. In that year’s World Series, Powell homered in the first two games, as the Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games. Prior to the 1971 season, Powell appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 1971 baseball preview issue. Powell helped Baltimore to a third straight World Series that year, blasting a pair of home runs in game two of the 1971 American League Championship Series against the up-and-coming Oakland Athletics. Unfortunately, he hit only .111 in the 1971 World Series, as Baltimore lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.


    Most importantly to me, Boog was a real character and a heck of a nice guy from all reports, which was confirmed when I met him! We chatted for a while and he was kind enough to sign my ticket stub. As a huge Orioles fan from Canada, he was surprised at how much I knew and seemed to enjoy reminiscing with me. And, on a plus, if you ever get to Camden Yards, his BBQ is outstanding (and the beer was pretty good too).

    Check out this great shot from our archives below! Like all our other famous athlete images, we think this one is a "home run."

    Canadians on the PGA Tour

    Canadians on the PGA Tour

    Being a big golf fan, I was thrilled when Blair Peters, owner of Vintage Sports Images, asked me for periodic blog posts on golf. I also enjoyed the conversation with my wife: “Umm, honey, I have to watch more golf...” I am sure she understands. After all, it’s for work.


    The 2017 Professional Golf Association season is here. It’s great to watch the golfers play in places that are warm and sunny, with beautifully manicured green grass – especially when here in Canada we are facing cold, snow or rain (depending on where you live).

    For regular followers of the PGA, you know that there really isn’t a break during the year. CBS and NBC take a break (just in time for the NFL season), but golf tournaments continue around the world. I love golf and I can’t do without the Golf Channel to help fill in the winter weekends.


    If you haven’t been following the PGA this year, Canadians certainly have had a lot to cheer about. For example, in November, rookie Mackenzie Hughes (from Dundas, ON) won the RSM Classic in Georgia. In fact, Hughes already has two top 10 finishes and has made over $1.5 million in prize money so far.


    Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin is the first Canadian and the eighth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59. Watching the last hour of Hadwin’s round made me anxious. It was a nail biter – especially with his wayward tee shot on 18 and a muttered obscenity picked up by the Golf Channel’s microphone. I yelled with excitement when he finally made his par putt after 10 agonizing minutes. (My dogs weren’t too happy that I woke them from their afternoon naps…)


    For fans of Mike Weir, you probably remember the famous playoff where he ended up wining the 2003 Masters. Along with that, his seven PGA Tour wins make him Canada’s top performer on the Tour. I look forward to seeing Weir at the Masters again this year.


    It used to be that Canadians didn’t get much coverage by the U.S. networks with the likes of Tiger, Rory, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and others getting all the live looks. I think that is about to change as Hadwin, Hughes, Graham DeLaet, and Nick Taylor are all playing well and are about to break through.


    Don’t forget to give the LPGA a watch this year. Canada’s Brooke Henderson has won $1.8 million in prize money, with three victories and 16 top 10 finishes. She won a major last year – the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – and she had a hole-in-one that won her a car during the tournament.


    Vintage Sports Images has some great golf images. Check out what we have here.


    I wake up on Thursday mornings with a smile, knowing that there are four days of golf to watch – again! Sorry, honey – it’s time to go to work!