Verge: Farewell to No. 19 Jose Bautista


Goodbye Jose Bautista

By Melissa Verge
Canadian Baseball Network
A lot can change for a pro sports team in 10 years, but for the Toronto Blue Jays, their right fielder stayed the same.

He could often be spotted jogging out to right field, or jogging around the bases after a home run, No. 19 on his back and a well groomed black beard on his face.

Jose Bautista did enjoying running around the bases often during his time in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.

He had two hundred and eighty-eight home runs in total.

His name is at No. 20 on the list of all-time single season leaders in home runs. To earn his spot on the list he had 54 home runs in 2010 with the Blue Jays. He’s listed with some of the all time greats, Babe Ruth (1928), Ralph Kiner (1949), Mickey Mantle (1961), and more recently, David Ortiz (2006) and Alex Rodriguez (2007). That’s because, like the players listed, Jose Bautista is one of the great ball players of his time.

On the career all-time list he sits at 106th with 331 home runs -- one behind Moises Alou and Bobby Bonds -- and tied with Hank Greenberg  and Derrek Lee.

He’s been the face of the Blue Jays and a leader on the team for as long as I can remember. Was there actually a time before Jose Bautista? 

However, after a long tenure in Toronto, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said that the club is choosing not to exercise the option on his contract for 2018.

After 10 seasons in Toronto, it’s hard to say goodbye. It’s a long time, long enough for Bautista to get his own cheer, which was proudly chanted by fans at every at bat. 

“Jose, Jose Jose Jose, Jose, Jose.” 

A total of 49,000 people came together each time he took the plate, all chanting his name.

He was popular long enough for my sister, who was a loyal fan since the beginning, to tape multiple newspaper articles of him on her bedroom wall, that have long since yellowed and crinkled with age. 

Ten seasons was long enough for the 36-year-old to inspire a young generation of Toronto fans. There was one in particular who could be seen at many Jays games, dressed up like him, Bautista’s signature beard pencilled on to his face with a sharpie marker.

Memorable enough that fans will always remember the bat flip as being something Jose Bautista truly created during game five of the American League Division Series in 2015, when he helped lead the Jays over Texas to the AL Championship Series. Although the bat flip existed long before Bautista did it, in my mind, he established it. 

Toronto Blue Jays fans will never forget the name Jose Bautista.

They gave him a standing ovation in Toronto on September 24th showing just how important he’s been to the team and to the city. The fans stood up and clapped as he came out of the dugout. 

Bautista waved his hat at the cheering crowd, I believe they were both thanking each other, the fans for his time, and Bautista for their support.

And, although he may be with a new team next year, to Blue Jays fans he will be always be at the Rogers Centre in right field, No. 19 on his back, and wearing a Blue Jays uniform.