If recently acquired closer Sergio Santos plans on making his mark in the Blue Jays record book, he should plan on staying a long time. Tom Henke, the team's closer from 1985-1992, racked up 217 saves during his tenure in Toronto, and that number has not been challenged yet. So, with 50 days to go until the first game of the 2012 Spring Training season, we remember the impressive career of #50, "The Terminator".
Drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1980, Henke joined the Blue Jays prior to the start of the 1985 season after making just 41 appearances over three big league seasons in Texas. The tall, hard-throwing right-hander began the 1985 season with AAA Syracuse, but he quickly found himself in Toronto anchoring the bullpen on a Club that won a franchise record 99 games in the regular season. Following the season, he finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting, and even received five points in the AL MVP voting.
In 1986, his first full season as the Blue Jays closer, Henke picked up 27 saves while striking out 118 batters over 91.1 innings. His dominance clearly established, Henke kept on rolling in 1987, racking up 34 saves (at the time a Blue Jays record), and 128 more strikeouts in just 94 innings.
Henke was named to the American League All-Star team in 1987, and finished the year 13th in AL MVP voting. The fact that he even found himself in the conversation for the MVP award is remarkable considering the fact that he finished the season without a victory, compiling an overall record of 0-6.
The Terminator's impressive run as the Blue Jays closer continued through 1992, when he again saved 34 games during the regular season. During the post-season, Henke recorded saves in five of the team's eight victories, and allowed just one run in eight innings of work against Oakland and Atlanta as the Blue Jays won their first World Series title in team history.
In addition to the team saves record, Henke still holds the franchise record for games finished with 386, and is third all-time in appearances with 446. His career ERA with the Blue Jays was a sparkling 2.48. In June of 2011 Henke's place in Toronto baseball history came full circle when he was enshrined in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys, Ontario.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.