Sunday, November 08, 2009

My Favorite World Series Moment

As the baseball season comes to an end with (yawn) a New York Yankees win, I thought I'd reflect on my favorite-ever World Series moment.

Since I'm a Cubs fan, and have been waiting for a Championship for 48 years, I've at times adopted other teams and cheered for them. I rooted for the Red Sox-- in vain, in the 1975 and 1986 World Series, but finally winning in 2004. Probably not a coincidence that I met Kim around the same time. I cheered for the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991, partly because hometown hero Kirby Puckett was one of their stars. This proved prescient-- I married a Minnesota girl. My cheering for the Twins sure doesn't hurt my relationship with my father-in-law either.

Another team I started rooting for was the Toronto Blue Jays. It was partly because of the friendly manner my old friend Dan and I been treated by the residents of Toronto during our fabled road trip to Toronto in 1987. It was also because the Blue Jays believed in the abilities of one of my favorite-ever ex-Cubs, Joe Carter.

In 1993, the Blue Jays were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. It was a weird time in my life. I'd been told, unexpectedly, a few months before, that I was going to become a father. I had just been getting ready to go back to school to get my teaching certification, and wondered how this was going to affect those plans. In the meantime, I worked and waited-- literally. I was working as a waiter at NN Smokehouse, which served up some of the best barbecue in the city.

On October 23, 1993, I was working. It was a not-too-busy Saturday night, so I was able to watch the game. The Jays were up 3-2 in the series. As the game reached the bottom of the ninth, Philadelphia was up 6-5. Philadelphia brought in their "ace" reliever, Mitch Williams-- my least-favorite ex-Cub ever. When Williams was with the Cubs, he was called "The Wild Thing" for his wild and often erratic delivery. His pitching style was such that he'd nearly end up on the ground after each pitch. It prevented him from fielding the baseball-- a key job for a pitcher or any other infielder. Whenever the Cubs brought in Williams, I'd have to leave the room.

But now Williams, my least-favorite ex-Cub was up against my favorite ex-Cub. Williams had walked lead-off hitter Rickey Henderson. Devon White flew out, and then Paul Molitor hit a single that sent Henderson to second.

Williams got Carter behind in the count, 2-2. Carter took Williams' next pitch and cranked it out for a 3-run home run, winning the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays. I felt vindicated-- I'd been furious when the Cubs traded Carter in 1983 (thought they did get Rick Sutcliffe in the trade).

Joe Carter's 1993 World Series Game 6 Walkoff Homerun

D.Bork | MySpace Video

As the game ended, I realized that it was, once again, the inevitable-- the end of the baseball season for half a year. It was, also, the end of one of the distractions to an event I was terrified of-- the upcoming birth of my child.

In March of the next year, just a little over a month before the beginning of the baseball season, my son was born. Ironically, a strike ended the 1994 season in August, and there was no World Series that year. That didn't stop my son, though. Despite his mother's insistence that he was going to play soccer, he was a baseball fan from the first moment he laid eyes on a game.

Looking back to that game, to that moment, I wondered if fate was trying to tell me something. I was very happy with the ending of that game in October of 1993. And despite the horrendous difficulties I had with his mother, my son's birth was the best thing that ever happened to me.

And one other thing that changed was that Carter's home-run became my second favorite-ever World Series moment. My favorite became, and always will be, watching the guy whose imminent arrival so terrified me that night, pitching in his baseball league's championship fifteen years later.


Erik Donald France said...

Excellent, excellent. I remember as a kid watching the White Sox (b/c they played fairly close to where we lived) and then the Twins, Harmon Kilebrew and all. And then the Pirates, who did win the Series. Also lived in Philly, so went fot the Phillies this time and last year. And also the Tigers, re: Detroit. It's been a baseball whirlwind! But sports NEVER stop, do they?

Churlita said...

What a great legacy for your son. Does he know that story?

Johnny Yen said...

I also root for the Tigers-- one of the great old-school teams. I had really looked forward to a Cubs/Tigers matchup in 1984, but Steve Garvey and the Padres took that dream away.

If he didn't already, he will soon-- he reads my blog!