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Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball

by Stephen Brunt

For those of us who have followed the Toronto Blue Jays from their cellar-dwelling expansion years through their back-to-back World Series wins and beyond, it’s sometimes hard to believe they have been with us for 20 seasons. In Diamond Dreams, Globe and Mail columnist Stephen Brunt has assembled an enjoyable history of the Blue Jays franchise through those first two decades.

In his account of the team’s early ineptitude – they finished last every year from 1977–1982 – Brunt chooses to focus almost exclusively on the front office personalities, including Labatt’s, the team’s principal owner from the beginning. Brunt has gotten good access to the brass and has elicited some articulate and revealing material, though it is a bit disappointing that there is almost no mention of on-field activities during those early seasons. Granted, there weren’t a whole lot of talented players so there is some logic in profiling the skilled bunch who built the Jays into a contender. But the terrible teams of the late ’70s and early ’80s did have several highlights – their 19-3 drubbing of the mighty Yankees (in 1977), Otto Velez’s four-homer afternoon (in 1980) – that Brunt completely ignores.

However, when he decides to recreate some of the heartbreaking losses and euphoric victories the Blue Jays have put their fans through, he does so extremely well. Not surprisingly, he devotes an entire chapter each to the 1992 and 1993 seasons, dramatically walking the reader through all of the post-season memories from the upside-down flag incident in Atlanta to Joe Carter’s World Series-winning blast at SkyDome.

All the while, Brunt maintains a tone that is engaging but never sentimental, probably because he interviews exactly none of the players. This occasionally works to the book’s detriment, but more often it affords Brunt the right amount of journalistic detachment to avoid the sportswriter’s tendency to psychologize. He writes without real flash, but with a transparent grace that sustains itself throughout the book.

If there is one thing Diamond Dreams succeeds in doing, it is in reminding Blue Jays fans how incredibly fortunate we were to have lived through those two World Series championships, especially when the current edition of the team looks so far from ever taking us there again.


Reviewer: Dan Bortolotti

Publisher: Viking/Penguin


Price: $29.99

Page Count: 352 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-670-857-033

Released: Aug.

Issue Date: 1996-7

Categories: Sports, Health & Self-help