With one swing of the bat, Jose Bautista immortalized himself in Toronto Blue Jays history. And this summer, the club will finally make it official. On August 12, Bautista will make his way into the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence.
The club announced they’ll honour Bautista in a pre-game ceremony later this summer when he’ll become the 11th member of the Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre. This honour recognizes tremendous individual achievement, and as one of the top sluggers in franchise history, this honour is long overdue for Joey Bats.
We celebrate Excellence ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/4ddp1EH9nI
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 5, 2023
“I am deeply humbled and excited to join the Blue Jays Level of Excellence and be recognized among the distinguished names that circle Rogers Centre,” Bautista said in a team-issued press release.
“Canada holds a special place in my heart and will always be home for my family and me, and we can’t wait to celebrate this honour with my beloved Blue Jays fans – the best fans in baseball! See you all this summer.”
It feels like a lifetime ago, but Bautista played his last season with the Blue Jays in 2017. He then bounced around between the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies during his final season in the big leagues in 2018.
Bautista still holds the Blue Jays franchise record for most home runs in a single season with 54, he was a six-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, and he authored one of the most iconic moments in franchise history: the bat flip heard around the world.
And that moment will be etched into bobblehead form and given out to the first 15,000 fans during the Jose Bautista Day on August 12.
Tickets will surely be a hot commodity as fans not only try to get their hands on this one-of-a-kind giveaway, but also to celebrate a legendary Blue Jays player like Bautista. Since he never really officially retired, fans can honour one of their favourite Blue Jays.
“Jose Bautista captured hearts and ignited a fan base as part of the team that brought Toronto back to the postseason for the first time in 22 years. His on-field achievements propelled the team to greatness, and he undoubtedly belongs on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence,” said Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro. “On behalf of the organization, we are proud to honour Jose and his remarkable career with Blue Jays fans in August.”
Considering the fact Bautista’s former teammate Edwin Encarnacion is back with the organization as a coach this year, it feels like 2015 and 2016 all over again.
The last player to be etched onto the Blue Jays Level of Excellence in Roy Halladay, who had his number 32 retired and his name installed on the ring of honour back in March 2018.
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