Former MVP Bell throws 1st pitch in Toronto

TORONTO -- Minutes before they played the most important game in franchise history since winning the World Series in 1993, the Blue Jays on Wednesday once again paid homage to their past.

Prior to Game 5 of this American League Division Series between Toronto and the Rangers -- which the Blue Jays won, 6-3, to advance to the AL Championship Series -- the crowd at Rogers Centre was introduced to one of the franchise's true legends.

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George Bell, the slugging outfielder who was a huge part of Toronto's first postseason team in 1985 and went on to take American League MVP honors after his monster 1987 season (.308 average, 47 home runs, 134 RBIs), threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which was caught by Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle.

The sold-out Rogers Centre crowd gave Bell an enormous ovation, and this came minutes after Douglas Tranquada had belted out stirring renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada." The crowd sang in unison to the Canadian national anthem and was cheering loudly through the last verse.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.