In something of a surprise move, Sportsnet has parted ways with Mike Wilner, who spent over 20 years working with the Toronto Blue Jays and has been the team’s full-time play-by-play announcer since 2019. Wilner confirmed the decision on Twitter.

“Today my heart is broken as I won’t be part of the Blue Jays broadcast crew moving forward, but I got to live the absolute dream for the last two decades. Who would have ever thought that a kid who grew up at Bathurst and Steeles in Toronto listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth through a speaker hidden under a pillow would actually get to sit in a booth with those two legends, never mind go on the air with them and call playoff games for my hometown team?”

Born in Toronto, Wilner seemed destined to be the Blue Jays announcer one day. Following a stint with the University of Toronto, he made the rounds of various sports as a play-by-play announcer before working as a backup announcer and hosted the “Blue Jays Talk” pre- and post-game shows starting in 2002. Between 2014 and 2017, he would call select innings of some Blue Jays home games. In 2018, he took over calling duties for many of the Blue Jays games following the retirement of Jerry Howarth and eventually took over as the full-time voice of the Blue Jays in 2019.

Both Sportsnet and Wilner are mum so far on the reason for the change. The company did make an announcement of their own, lauding Wilner for his work with the Blue Jays.

“Whether engaging fans in the spirited post-game debate on Blue Jays Talk or doing play-by-play analysis, mike was an integral part of Sportsnet 590 The Fan for the past two decades…As the first Blue Jays radio play-by-play announcer born and raised in Toronto, Mike’s passion for the team, city, and sport is unparalleled.”

Many fans were upset with the decision and cite cost-cutting and greed as potential reasons for the move. The change also comes a day after news leaked about Rogers Communication, who owns the Blue Jays, wanting to demolish the Rogers Centre and build a new stadium, leaving some to wonder if this is related in some financial way.

Wilner responded to fans on Twitter, saying “I’m overwhelmed right now, and wish I could reach out personally to every one of you who has said such nice things since the news came out. Thanks for all the love and kindness.”

[Sportsnet, Mike Wilner]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, Neighborhoods.com, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle.