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Mike Timlin turns 53 today.

Timlin will always have a special place in my heart as he not only got the final out in the Jay’s first World Series, he also made the assist on the final play, fielding Otis Nixon’s bunt single attempt and throwing to Joe Carter at first just in time to get Nixon. And for that he gets to a place as one of my favorite players.

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mike was drafted in the 5th round of the 1987 amateur draft out of Southwestern University. He was your basic two pitch reliever throwing a two-seam sinking fastball and a slider or in Bill James words a great slider.

In 1991 Mike appeared in 63 games, starting 3 of them. He finished the season 11-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 3 saves. In 108.1 innings he gave up 94 hits and 50 walks, 6 home runs and struck out 85. His wins, innings pitched and strikeout numbers are career highs. He was tied for league lead in relief victories and got 2 third place votes for Rookie of the Year that season to finish 6th in the voting. Just to let you know how long ago that was, Chuck Knoblauch was the Rookie of the Year. The Jays made the playoffs that season and lost out to the Twins in 5 games. Timlin appeared in 4 of the games taking the loss in game 3.

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1992 was the season noted above that the Jays won their first World Series. Timlin started the season on the DL after off season elbow surgery and rehabbed in the minors until June 12 and then was optioned to the minors again July 31st. He didn’t have a great season, only getting into 26 games, finishing 0-2, with a 4.12 ERA. He pitched in 2 game in the ALCS and 2 games in the World Series picking up the save in the 11th inning of the final game of the World Series.

Our second World Series season Timlin was an important part of our pen appearing in 54 games with a 4-2 record, 1 save with a 4.69 ERA. In 55.2 innings he allowed 63 hits, walked 27, and gave up 7 homers, so he wasn’t terribly impressive. He pitched in 1 game in the ALCS against the White Sox and 2 scoreless appearances in the World Series win over the Phillies.

It was Oct. 24, 1992 and reliever Mike Timlin’s throw to Joe Carter over at first base in the 11th inning would mark the final out of the 1992 World Series.

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It was also a significant moment in baseball history, as the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the series over the Atlanta Braves and became the first Canadian team to win the coveted championship.

It sent the more than 45,000 frenzied fans, who had packed the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) to watch the away game on the giant screen, out onto the streets of downtown Toronto, where they were joined by thousands more, taking over Yonge Street, waving flags, honking horns, screaming and cheering.

At the end, it was estimated that nearly a half-million people took part in the euphoric celebration.

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Fans celebrate while driving down a downtown Toronto street on Oct. 25, 1992, after the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series. (Phill Snel/The Canadian Press)
“It was pandemonium,” said retired journalist Allen Garr, who was tasked to report on the downtown celebrations for the CBC. “I couldn’t hear myself speak.”

And now, more than a quarter of a century later, the Toronto Raptors are looking to land themselves in a similar situation, trying to make their own history by becoming the first Canadian team to win an NBA championship.

But would such a victory match the hysteria of ’92?

‘Embody the whole country’
“When you compare these two phenomena, I think that a Raptors NBA victory would be equally as big as a Jays World Series win in ’92,” said CBC Sports broadcaster and writer Scott Russell.

“I would say it’s sort of characteristic of how we see team sport in Canada. We get behind whatever big team it is that’s performing and comes to embody the whole country.”

The City of Toronto is certainly preparing for possible celebrations should the Raptors best the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, a team that’s taken three of the past four championships.

He didn’t have a great season in 1994 making only 34 appearances with a 5.18 ERA and went on the DL on May 27 with a sprained AC joint. After the All-Star break he had a 2.38 ERA. In 1995 he had more injury troubles. He only gave up one home run all season, a grand slam on June 21, and then went on the DL to have bone chips removed from his elbow the next day. He only allowed 1 earned run after returning from the DL August 18th.

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In 1996 he became our closer saving a career high 31 saves in 38 opportunities. He led the club with 59 appearances and had a 3.65 ERA and a 1-6 record. In 56.2 innings he allowed 47 hits, 18 walks and 4 homers while striking out 52. But it wasn’t a good season for the team, we finished 74 and 88.

In 1997 Timlin made 38 appearances and was 3-2 with 9 saves and a 2.87 ERA when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners with Paul Spoljaric for Jose Cruz on July 31st. The Mariners were in a pennant race and needed bullpen help and were willing to trade Cruz their first round pick in the 1995 amateur draft. It was a great trade for the Jays and you’d imagine it would be when you trade two middle reliever types for a young power hitting outfielder. The Mariners did win their division and that season and Timlin did a good job for them for the next season and a half before leaving as a free agent after the 1998 season.

After that Mike played for the Orioles, Cardinals, Phillies and the Red Sox, winning two World Series rings with them. He had 18 years in the majors and he appeared in 1058 games, 8th on the all time list. In 2007 he was awarded the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for something, I’m really not sure what. It says ‘Given to the player who best exemplify his character and integrity both on and off the field’. I suppose it would be a bad thing to note that the bastion of integrity Pete Rose once won the award too. And Mark McGwire.

Happy Birthday Mike. I hope you have a good one.