Ernie Whitt

Ernie Whitt (Photo by Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

How popular was catcher Ernie Whitt with fans of the Toronto Blue Jays? Well, we can still hear the chants of “ER-NEE! ER-NEE! ER-NEE!” from many a game at Exhibition Stadium. 

One was on September 14, 1987 when “ER-NEE!” belted three homeruns as the Blue Jays set a Major League record with 10 homers in one game during the 18-3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles. 

Whitt’s 15-year MLB career started with Boston in 1976. The Detroit native then became the 34th pick of the Blue Jays in the 1976 Expansion Draft. Following brief appearances in 1977 and ’78, Whitt became a Blue Jays mainstay from 1980 through ’89. He was an All-Star in 1985 when the Blue Jays established the club record with 99 wins, scoring firsts as AL East champions and a postseason berth. He helped the Blue Jays to another postseason trip in 1989. Over 12 seasons and 1,218 games with Toronto, Whitt slugged 131 homers, knocked in 518 runs – and was their Opening Day catcher nine times. 

Since 1999, Whitt has been manager for Team Canada, including all five World Baseball Classics. Defeating the star-studded USA squad 8-6 in their first-ever WBC showdown in 2006 is a highlight. Whitt’s guided Canada to four Pan Am Games medals (including Gold in 2011 and ’15) along with a fourth-place finish in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is a member of Baseball Canada’s Wall of Fame.

Way to go, “ER-NEE!”