Toronto Blue Jays: Kawasaki and T.O.’s love of unorthodox sports heroes

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 3: Munenori Kawasaki
TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 3: Munenori Kawasaki /
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Toronto Blue Jays
TORONTO, CANADA – MAY 18: John McDonald /

John McDonald

Unlike Bonner and Kawasaki, John McDonald did not have much flash off the field. No dancing, no antics, no viral videos – the man known as “Johnny Mac” won over the hearts of Toronto Blue Jays fans with his superb defence and intense work ethic.

McDonald returned to the Rogers Centre as a member of the LA Angels in 2014 and received a standing ovation. The response led Angels teammate Mike Trout to declare McDonald “the Mayor of Toronto” (Rob Ford, another oddly popular Toronto public figure, was the actual mayor at the time).

Although McDonald was known for his glove, one of his most unforgettable moments as a Jay came on Father’s Day 2010. Days after his father had passed away from cancer, the then 35-year old went out and hit a home run, a promise he had made to his father before he passed.

During his seven-year Toronto Blue Jays career, McDonald hit only .243, with a .278 OBP, but he still managed to establish himself as a star among the fans in Toronto. Despite playing alongside players such as Bautista, Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells, McDonald still became a star in the city.

Adriano Belli

The Canadian Football League, more than most professional Leagues, seems to embrace the odd duck characters. Adriano Belli, better known as the “Kissing Bandit,” smooched his way into the hearts of Toronto fans during his five-year career with the Argonauts.

The two-time Grey Cup Champion became a star on the field as an all-star defensive tackle, but also for his sideline antics – regularly appearing on the Jumbotron at the Rogers Centre.

Born and raised in Toronto, Belli entered the CFL as a member of the Montreal Alouettes, but spent the last five seasons of his 10-year career with his hometown Argos.

Fans from across the CFL embraced Belli wherever he played, but he was especially revered in Toronto.


Despite not playing in Toronto since 2015, Kawasaki remains a popular figure among Toronto Blue Jay fans – a cult classic of sort. Although Torontonians embrace their sports stars, there has always been a place for the unlikely, long shot athletes as well.

Next: Josh Donaldson gets into the swing of things

Which of the players mentioned do you have the fondest memories of from their time in Toronto? Is there anyone else you’d like to add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.