The Cracken's favourite MLB memory
#1 – Touch ‘em all Joe – October 23, 1993
It may not be all that original, but that’s only because it’s probably your favourite baseball memory too.
It was a swing that made history on a number of levels, as 1993 became the first time two professional sports championships belonged to Canadian teams in the same year, as the Montreal Canadiens hoisted the Stanley Cup a few months earlier, and Joe Carter became the first person to ever hit a walk-off home run while trailing in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series.
After winning the 1992 World Series, the first ever in Canada, the Jays got right back into the swing of things for the 1993 season, and ended up claiming the team’s third straight division title. It was an exciting time in Canada for baseball, and after the Jays knocked off the Chicago White Sox in six games to take the American league pennant, it got even crazier.
Back-to-back titles were in sight, and only the Philadelphia Phillies stood in the way. In Game 4, the Jays advanced to a 3-1 series lead with what would be the highest-scoring game in World Series history. After going up 7-6 in the third inning, the Phillies pushed back and had the Jays against the ropes 14-9 entering the final two innings, but the Jays exploded with six in the eighth inning to take a decisive 15-14 victory and push the Phillies to the brink of elimination.
Philadephia fought back into the series with a 2-0 victory at Veterans Stadium in Pennsylvania, and the series returned to the SkyDome in Toronto for Game 6.
In the seventh inning of Game 6, the Phillies silenced the 52,000 Jays fans in the SkyDome, erasing 5-1 lead with a five run inning, and hanging on to the 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
With a potential Game 7 on the line, Phillies closer Mitch Williams opened the inning with a walk to Rickey Henderson. Devon White then stepped up to the plate and hit a pop fly to left field, marking the first out of the inning. Paul Molitor then hit a line drive right up the middle, moving the runners to first and second, and bringing Carter to the plate.
On a 2-2 count, it happened: the swing that made history for baseball in Canada.
As it is with many memorable sports moments, the home run was paired with emotionally charged commentary that still echoes throughout history. Carter’s swing will be immortalized in my memory banks not just for the visual spectacle of watching the ball travel over the left field fence, or Carter rounding the bases, looking very much like a kid living out a dream. The swing rests so poignantly in the minds of Canadians thanks to the words of the late Jays radio play-by-play announcer Tom Cheek.
“A swing, and a belt! Left field! Way back! Blue Jays win it! The Blue Jays are World Series champions as Joe Carter hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning and the Blue Jays have repeated as World Series champions! Touch 'em all, Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”
He was right, and no else has ever matched the feat. I was a fan of Carter’s, and really all the Blue Jays, before that swing happened, but Carter easily became my favorite ball player as a child, not because of his stats, but because he was the one man who got to live that moment every kid dreams of while learning the game at the local diamonds.
I remember making the trip out to see my grandparents in Toronto when I was about eight years old. My grandfather took me to see the Jays take on, I believe the Texas Rangers, and by the mid-point of the game the first clues to the upcoming 20-year playoff drought were starting to appear, as the Jays were in a massive hole.
My grandfather asked if I wanted to duck out of the afternoon game early and explore Toronto for a few hours, since the outcome was already all but decided.
“No,” I told him. “Joe Carter hasn’t hit a home run yet.”
So we stayed, and he was more than happy to sit there and watch with me from our seats down the third base line. And sure enough, the next time Carter stepped to the plate, he belted a home run over the left field wall.
The crowd went crazy, and so did I. The Jays were still down by at least a handful of runs, but we all saw what we came for, at least I did. I wasn’t upset that the Jays didn’t win; I wasn’t even upset that they got blown out. All that mattered at that moment was that my grandpa and I got to see Carter go yard at the SkyDome with our own eyes.
And of course, I had to yell out, “Touch ‘em all Joe!”
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