I laid there, face down and buried in the blanket. The bedroom was dark, the bed cold. A few rooms away the sounds of my family and the tv continued on, but my world had stopped. The Blue Jays had been just one strike away from winning the World Series, and Otis Nixon decided to tie it up after smacking a Tom Henke pitch into left. Not only that, but Maldonado air mailed the throw home and now the Braves were 90 feet away from forcing a Game 7. I was just trying to force myself back to the living room to watch. I’m glad I did.
I look back now and realize, I’d probably still do the same thing now. It’s just hard to believe that it was 20 years ago. 20 years. I guess it’s hard to get my head wrapped around it because of how vivid some of those moments are. The names, Key, Carter, Lee, Guzman, Cone, Alomar, Griffin, Borders, Sprague, Gruber, White, Olerud, Whitfield, Morris (who LOST both starts in the World Series), so many moments over the course of seven days in the Fall of ’92. I was ending my first year as a teenager, and here I was witnessing history.
The ’85 Jays were a blurry memory, more because I was going on 7, but I could still remember a few things from that year: I was in the hospital to visit my newly born brother, and I got a pennant (still have it). And at school, when the Jays were taking on the Royals in Game 7, the class got to write positive messages for the team and post them on the windows facing out, so people (and maybe the Jays) would see them. Apparently they didn’t.
Then ’89, Cito Gaston comes in and rescues the season, the Skydome opens, and the Oakland A’s bring their two-headed-steroid monster of McGuire/Canseco and knock us out in 5. ’91, the Twins get to us. At least in all of those years, the team that beat us won the World Series. That way, we could still have technically been second best.
But then ’92. The comeback against the A’s, with Alomar’s home run against Eckersley. I may have been 13, but I knew what Eck was doing when he fist pumped towards the Jays dugout. I made my own gestures when Alomar knocked it out.
To the World Series, Sprague’s pinch hit homer in the 9th in Game 2, the Jays just over an inning away from going down 2-0 in the Series. Devon White’s ridiculous catch in centrefield, and the subsequent “triple play” that never was (Gruber got that heel Sanders, you know it, we know, just the guy with the black and grey didn’t know it.) Gruber breaking out of a ridiculous slump with a home run. Both Gruber and Alomar chopping their way to home plate at the Skydome. And then, Game 6 in Atlanta.
Sitting in front of that tv, trying not to lose my mind, realizing the Jays were one strike away from winning…the potential release of endless amounts of joy and energy, and then, it was gone. And so close to going to Game 7. Gant flied out to centre, and to extras we went.
Winfield doubles down the left field line, White and Alomar come in to score. Jimmy Key leaves in line for the win after telling Cito he’s gassed. Timlin comes in, Carter says “Watch for the bunt.” Nixon steps up. He bunts. Timlin on it, throws to first…
…for days, I had no idea what the announcer said next. It ended up being “For the first time in history the championship banner will fly North of the border. The Toronto Blue Jays are baseball’s best in1992.” It wasn’t Tom Cheek (who nailed the call, then nailed the ’93 call even better) , but it’s something I can still repeat word for word (much like the ’93 call: “Well hit down the left field line, way back and GONE.” Because if we were old enough to remember it, we were old enough to remember where we were, and what we did. We celebrated. The whole country celebrated. Canada had celebrated before with the Summit Series and the Canada Cup, the Olympics in ’76 and ’88, and it would celebrate again in ’93 and in Salt Lake City and Vancouver, but for me, this was the first time I really felt in on it all. Maybe that’s why I remember it so well. If you feel like reliving it a little, go ahead and watch the videos below. From Game 1 to Timlin on it, the 1992 World Series. It may have been 20 years ago, but it still feels great now. And for Tigers and Giants fans young and old, they get to feel it starting tonight. Let’s all enjoy the ride. sports