North Bay, Ontario (via Prince Edward County)
This isn't a Roberto Alomar Hall of Fame post.
Instead, its my re-telling of my favourite moment as a Blue Jays fan.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Somehow though, it was October 11, 1992. That is long enough ago that I'm not even going to figure out the exact amount of years that has passed since.
It was a sunny, but cool Sunday afternoon. Game four of the American League Championship Series between the Blue Jays and Athletics in Oakland. The Jays went into the game with a 2-1 series lead and had Jack Morris on the mound. Things looked good for a young, eager, awkwardly thin Jays fan.
Until the third inning.
The A's put up a five spot in the home half and added another run a couple innings later to take a 6-1 lead into the late innings and had it protected by one of the toughest closers in baseball history, Dennis Eckersley.
It was bleak until the top of the eighth inning, when Toronto finally started chipping away. As a kid, when your team is down five runs, you believe it to be an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. The Jays got a run to make it 6-2 before that mustachioed son-of-a-bitch Eckersley came to the mound. Game over.
Run scoring hits by John Olerud and then Candy Maldonado cut the lead to 6-4. Eckersely struck someone out to end the eighth inning Jays rally, and in doing so, lit a fire in me, and more importantly, the Toronto dugout. He yelled and taunted, pumped his fist towards the Jays like the regular jackass he is.
I was livid. Temper that I had (have), I got in trouble for swearing at the television. Two seconds later, my Dad swore at it.
Today, at 29, I would recognize and could see the moment coming. Back then however, at the ripe old age of eleven, there was no hope. The Jays were losing going into the ninth inning, and had to complete the comeback against Eckersley, back then the most hated athlete in my life.
Enter the top of the Toronto Blue Jays lineup.
Devon White, that graceful bastard, led off the top of the ninth with a single and ended up on third base before Ricky Henderson stopped making errors on the play.
The guy up next is THE guy you WANT up next. Whenever a clutch hit was needed, Roberto Alomar had an uncanny ability to deliver. I knew that at the time, but still had no idea what was coming. I was still expecting defeat, still dreading the failure that was about to go down.
I'll never forget the call of Dick Stockton on that early Sunday evening when Robbie lined a two-run, game tying shot over the right field fence, stunning the Oakland faithful, the Oakland dugout, and their cocky prick of a closer.
"And a drive hit to right field, Sierra going back, looking up...and this game is tied!"
6-6. The Jays eventually won 7-6, and I can't remember how they scored the winning run. Beyond this game of course, the rest is history.
This isn't a Roberto Alomar in the Hall of Fame post. He is undoubtedly one of, if not the best second baseman in baseball history. His place in Cooperstown was never a question of "if", but of "when."
Of all the sports moments I've watched on TV, be it the Penguins winning Stanley Cups, the Patriots winning Super Bowls, even Joe Carter's World Series winning tater a year later, the 1992 Alomar homerun, called by Stockton is still the most vivid to me. The Jays had been close to winning the pennant several times before,but when that homerun sailed over Ruben Sierra's head, I finally got the feeling that it just might be our year.
Its fitting that Alomar will be the first Hall of Famer inducted as a Blue Jay. Without him, the Jays never get over the hump and never give us fans the thrills of 1992 and 1993. He WAS the Toronto Blue Jays, and in a way, he still is.