TORONTO — There’s a chapter in my 2016 book
The Big 50: Toronto Blueish Jays
entitled ‘The Bat Flip and Holy Trinity of Bluish Jays Home Runs.’
Information technology’s a bit clunky, largely considering Jose Bautista’s ballsy drive in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Serial forced a near-deadline rewrite. Nigh six months after the book came out, Edwin Encarnacion delivered his wild-card walkoff against the Baltimore Orioles, another homer that sailed direct into franchise lore.
Not sure what I would have named the chapter after that one, but it’southward amid the v dwelling runs in club history that are clearly more significant than any others.
Regardless, a fun debate then, when I first wrote the section, and now, with a little scrap more perspective as time has passed, is over which homer is the about of import in Blue Jays history.
For some information technology’s clearly Joe Carter’s walkoff homer in the lesser of the ninth in Game 6 off Mitch Williams to shell the Philadelphia Phillies and clinch the World Series, because, duh, information technology won a title. That’s a pretty strong case. Underappreciated is Ed Sprague’s 9th-inning, pinch-hitting drive off Jeff Reardon in Game 2 that probably saved Toronto in the 1992 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
But, to me, Roberto Alomar’s two-run homer off boyfriend Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1992 American League Title Series, is without question the well-nigh pivotal swing in franchise history.
(Watch information technology Monday night at 8 p.grand. ET on Sportsnet’s Blue Jays Classics to estimate for yourself).
I’ll grant y’all that no homer was as emotionally charged as Bautista’southward bat flip laser, and no homer as celebrated as Carter’south shot. But Alomar’s stroke singlehandedly vanquished the ghosts of past failures the Bluish Jays had carried since 1985, when they blew a 3-1 lead in the ALCS to the Kansas Metropolis Royals, and that’s what makes it such a transformative moment.
Maybe the Blueish Jays still would have won the ALCS that yr and advanced to the World Serial for the first time had they lost that game and allowed the Athletics to even the serial, 2-ii. Only when they rallied to win 7-6 in xi innings — after trailing vi-1 through 7, Alomar’south homer making Eckersley pay for his over-the-top taunts at the stop of the eighth inning, there was an air of inevitability to their rise.
Psychologically, it pushed them past the failures of ’85, ’87, ’89 and ’91, and eradicated the derisive Blow Jays moniker.
“Without Robbie striking that home run we don’t make it,” onetime manager Cito Gaston told me in an interview for the book. “It got us over the hump where we’d been trying to become for years. We were close in ‘87 and ’85, which actually, I spent a week in my basement, I wouldn’t come out I was so depressed.”
Alomar kept that from happening once again in hella dramatic fashion.
The Blue Jays began to rally in the 8th and scored three times before Eckersley struck out Sprague to end the inning. After, he did this, enraging the Blue Jays dugout.
“Nosotros were yelling stuff like you would never believe,” said teammate Pat Tabler. “I was making upwards stuff to yell at him.”
Vengeance came in the ninth when Devon White opened the inning with a unmarried and reached 3rd on an fault, bringing upward Alomar equally the tying run.
He turned on a 2-2 offering and ripped information technology over the wall in right to tie the game, an exuberant celebration helping chase Eckersley’s taunts.
“There were a lot of shadows, it was fun and (scary) at the aforementioned fourth dimension. Information technology was real hard to see the brawl,” Alomar said. “I was looking for a fastball that I can drive and I was looking upwards to go a pitch in the inside function of the plate. I took my good swing and it went over the fence.
“You know, it was a big hitting for united states of america. … It turned effectually the series and from that signal on nosotros were a dissimilar ball club.”
A Pat Borders sacrifice wing in the 11th capped the vii-6 win and the Blueish Jays lost Game 5 before clinching at dwelling with a 9-2 win in Game six, setting the stage for the first of ii sequent World Series titles. There had been so much success from the get-go AL Eastward crown in 1985 onward, and to that point, and so much heartache as well.
Alomar’s home run provided an exclamation point in the way Bautista’s bat flip homer did after two decades out of the mail-season. Both bubbled up from a wild cauldron of emotion — that Game 5 versus the Texas Rangers is an best baseball archetype — which is why they’re such memorable, iconic moments.
“My reaction was emotion, I wasn’t showing anyone upwardly, I just raised my hands up,” Alomar said. “Bautista was emotion, too. When you’re into the game in a large game similar that, sometimes you lot exercise things you normally wouldn’t do.”
Those types of homers, especially, deserve to exist historic (players should enjoy every dinger they hit and baseball’due south fun-constabulary needs to get over themselves), as swings worthy of a franchise’southward all-time highlight reel are few and far between.
Bautista won a serial and extended the playoff run of 2015. Alomar won a game and inverse the trajectory of the Blue Jays in the process, which is why if y’all’re searching for the virtually of import home run in club history, yous needn’t await any farther.