The Toronto Blue Jays have a lot of records that are held by Blue Jay legends and the franchise record for total number of saves in one season (45) held by Duane Ward is no different.
Duane Ward began his baseball career in the town of Farmington, New Mexico. Since 1965, Farmington has been known for the "Connie Mack World Series" which is a baseball tournament for 18 and under players. Ward, himself, was also a part of the Connie Mack World Series in his youth.
After playing ball throughout his childhood, he was drafted directly out of high school in 1982 in the first round (9th overall) by the Atlanta Braves. After being drafted, Ward started his professional baseball career with the GCL Braves in 1982 before being promoted that same season to the Anderson Braves.
Ward steadily made his way through the Braves minor league system, pitching for the Single-A Durham Bulls in '83, Double-A Greenville Braves in '84-'85 and finally for the Triple-A team, the Richmond Braves, in '86. In the 1986 season, Ward played 12 games with the Atlanta Braves finding limited success. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher Doyle Alexander in July of the 1986 season.
Ward played a total of two games with the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Syracuse Chiefs, before he was promoted to the Majors. During his time with the Blue Jays, he was used exclusively as a reliver after spending most of his minor league career as a starter. From 1988 to 1992, Ward played a big part in the Blue Jays bullpen, finishing a total of 191 games and striking out 560 batters.
Following Tom Henke's departure, prior to the start of the 1993 season, Ward took over the closer role. His success as a closer is showcased by his franchise record of 45 saves in the 1993 season . Not only does he hold the record for saves but he was also the winning pitcher in game 6 of the 1993 World Series. In the series, Ward had a total of three appearances with two saves and one win.
After missing the 1994 season due to biceps tendinitus, he returned to the Blue Jays for the 1995 season, but pitched in just four games before his retirement. He finished his career with an ERA of 3.28 and 121 saves. He also holds the second place spot for most games played in franchise history(452) behind Jason Frasor (455).
Ward is still heavily involved with baseball, taking part in the Toronto Blue Jays Super Camps - a tour around Canada that teaches children about the game of baseball. It features many former Blue Jays as instructors including Duane Ward, Lloyd Moseby and Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.