By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Oct. 23) – It still ranks as the most electrifying moment in this city’s professional sporting annals: 19 years ago tonight – Oct. 23, 1993 – when Joe Carter touched ’em all at SkyDome.
Carter’s three-run homer to left field off Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Toronto Blue Jays their second consecutive World Series title: a six-game triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies. As Carter rounded the bases – jumping for joy – the late Tom Cheek, in the home radio booth, uttered the call that would quickly become broadcasting legend in this country: “Touch ’em all, Joe… you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”
Had the Blue Jays not been playing in the World Series, it is anyone’s guess – to this day – what level of hockey hysteria might have gripped this region. Trampled by baseball fever was one of the most outlandish achievements in Toronto Maple Leafs history: a 10-game win streak to start the 1993-94 NHL schedule. Moments before Carter slammed his walk-off home run, the Leafs – on two goals by Mark Osborne and a shut-out from Felix Potvin – blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning in St. Petersburg FLA for the NHL record of nine victories to begin a season. It was one incredible night.
Leafs were coached by the late Pat Burns and led – on the ice – by Potvin, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark.
FRONT OF THE TORONTO STAR (ABOVE) THE DAY AFTER THIS CITY’S GREATEST SPORTING MOMENT – JOE CARTER’S WALK-OFF HOME RUN IN THE WORLD SERIES, 19 YEARS AGO TONIGHT. FRONT PAGE OF STAR SPORTS SECTION (BELOW) HIGHLIGHTING THE LEAFS’ RECORD ACCOMPLISHMENT.
During the Blue Jays World Series drive, which began with a six-game ouster of Chicago White Sox in the American League championship, I kept full pages from the Toronto, Chicago and Philadelphia newspapers. They are bound in a thick, cardboard scrapbook. As Jays built toward their second title, the Toronto Star managed to keep the Leafs relevant with banner headlines on the front of its sports section, usually at the bottom of the page. As you’ll see in this progression of scrapbook images, hockey and baseball formed dual-ecstasy in Toronto’s greatest month of professional sport:
LEAFS RECORD 10-GAME BINGE:
ONE NIGHT AFTER THE BLUE JAYS KNOCKED OFF CHICAGO AT COMISKEY PARK TO WIN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE PENNANT, THE LEAFS IMPROVED TO 4-and-0 WITH A PASTING OF WASHINGTON CAPITALS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, AS PAUL HUNTER WROTE (ABOVE) IN THE TORONTO STAR.
ON THE DAY THE 1993 WORLD SERIES BEGAN AT SKYDOME (OCT. 16), LEAFS WERE 5-and-0 AFTER A FRIDAY-NIGHT WIN AT HOME TO DETROIT, 6-3.
WHILE THE BLUE JAYS WERE TRAMPLING PHILADELPHIA, 8-5, IN GAME 1 OF THE WORLD SERIES (ABOVE), LEAFS WERE SWEEPING A HOME-AND-HOME SET AGAINST DETROIT (BELOW) WITH A 2-1 VICTORY AT JOE LOUIS ARENA.
THE ’93 WORLD SERIES – TIED 1-1 – HAD SHIFTED TO VETERANS STADIUM IN PHILADELPHIA FOR GAME 3 (ABOVE) ON THE SAME NIGHT LEAFS WENT 7-and-0 AGAINST THE OLD HARTFORD WHALERS (BELOW) AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. WHALERS WOULD BECOME THE CAROLINA HURRICANES FOUR YEARS LATER.
HARTFORD at LEAFS GAME STORY (ABOVE) BY DAMIEN COX.
THE BLUE JAYS COULD HAVE WRAPPED UP THEIR SECOND WORLD SERIES WITH A GAME 5 VICTORY AT PHILADELPHIA, BUT CURT SCHILLING PITCHED THEM INTO THE GROUND (ABOVE). PHILLIES WON, 2-0. WHILE THAT WAS HAPPENING, LEAFS TOOK THEIR SEVEN-GAME WIN STREAK INTO OVERTIME AT MIAMI ARENA. ROB PEARSON BEAT JOHN VANBIESBROUCK AT 2:17 OF THE EXTRA FRAME FOR A 4-3 WIN OVER THE FLORIDA PANTHERS (BELOW) AND A TIE WITH THE 1975-76 BUFFALO SABRES FOR MOST VICTORIES TO START A SEASON.
MAPLE LEAFS WERE ON THE CUSP OF HISTORY; THE BLUE JAYS ON THE CUSP OF ANOTHER BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP WHEN PAUL HUNTER PENNED THE ABOVE STORY FROM THE GULF COAST OF FLORIDA.
JOE CARTER’S LEGENDARY HOME RUN (ABOVE) AND THE LEAFS RECORD VICTORY (BELOW) HAPPENED IN THE SAME HOUR NINE YEARS AGO TONIGHT.
NHL STANDINGS (ABOVE) AS OF OCT. 23, 1993
FROM THE TAMPA TRIBUNE (ABOVE AND BELOW). LEAFS WON THEIR MILESTONE GAME AT WHAT IS NOW TROPICANA FIELD, HOME OF THE BASEBALL TAMPA BAY RAYS. IT WAS CALLED THUNDERDOME IN 1993. THE HOCKEY CONFIGURATION ALLOWED FOR NEARLY 23,000 FANS. LIGHTNING WOULD MOVE INTO THEIR CURRENT ARENA IN DOWNTOWN TAMPA THREE YEARS LATER.
MORE FROM 19 YEARS AGO TONIGHT…
AND, THE PARTY
FACEBOOK: HOWARD BERGER [THORNHILL ON]