TORONTO (Oct. 2) — For more than two decades, Toronto baseball fans have been longing for “meaningful games” in September. There was never a request for a “meaningful October.” Until now.
Having clinched their sixth American League East title — and first in 22 years — the Blue Jays will finish the regular season in St. Petersburg, Fla. this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays. The club and its fans will watch the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night before settling in on Thursday for the first playoff match in these parts since Oct. 23, 1993. That night will long resonate in Toronto baseball — and hockey — circles. First, it was the Maple Leafs blanking the Lightning, 2–0, also in St. Petersburg (at Tropicana Field), to establish a National Hockey League–record ninth consecutive victory from the start of a season. Moments later, it was Joe Carter’s “touch ’em all” (God bless you, Tom Cheek) home run off Mitch Williams at SkyDome that lifted the Blue Jays to their second World Series championship in as many years.
And, that’s why October 1993 can be like none other in Toronto sports history.
The Pat Burns–Doug Gilmour Leafs were virtually ignored during their blaze of glory as the Blue Jays first defeated the Chicago White Sox in the American League Championship Series and then the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Combing through the distant pages of my 1993 baseball scrapbook tells the story. I had the privilege of covering the Blue Jays consecutive championships as a reporter for The FAN–590, Canada’s first all–sports radio station. Though I’m best–remembered for my 17 seasons covering the Maple Leafs, home and away, I hadn’t yet started full–time on hockey. As such, even I paid scant attention to the boys in blue and white while they accumulated a 10–0–0 record to begin the 1993–94 NHL schedule.
Had I not been thoroughly engrossed and sidetracked by the Blue Jays exploit, I would have naturally ensured to keep every newspaper article pertaining to the Leafs. But, it never entered my mind. Until this morning — when I looked through the pages and realized I had accidentally preserved every bit of what the Leafs accomplished. For some fun and posterity, here then is a chronological amalgam of the Blue Jays/Maple Leafs ride from the pages of my baseball–first scrapbook 22 years ago this month — during an October like never before (or since) in Toronto sports history:
OCT. 6, 1993
AS THE BLUE JAYS AND WHITE SOX GOT READY FOR GAME 3 OF THE ALCS AT SKYDOME, THE HOCKEY SEASON OPENED AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS WITH A TORONTO WIN OVER DALLAS.
OCT. 10, 1993
THE BLUE JAYS ELIMINATED THE WHITE SOX IN CHICAGO, ADVANCING TO THEIR SECOND CONSECUTIVE WORLD SERIES, WHILE GILMOUR AND THE LEAFS PREPARED FOR THEIR FOURTH GAME.
OCT. 14, 1993
THE STAR CONTINUED TO USE ITS BAD PUN (ABOVE) PRIOR TO THE WORLD SERIES OPENER HERE IN TOWN WHILE WENDEL AND THE LEAFS (BELOW) GOT READY FOR TWO AGAINST DETROIT.
OCT. 16, 1993
WITH CITO AND THE BLUE JAYS HOPING TO CORRAL THE PHILLIES IN THE WORLD SERIES OPENER AT SKYDOME, THE MAPLE LEAFS WENT TO 5–0–0 WITH A 6–3 HOME–ICE WIN OVER DETROIT.
OCT. 17, 1993
THE BLUE JAYS TOOK GAME 1 AT SKYDOME…
WHILE THE MAPLE LEAFS CRUISED IN MOTOWN (ABOVE AND BELOW).
THE SUNDAY SUN ALSO LAUDED THE BLUE JAYS AND LEAFS.
OCT. 19, 1993
WITH THE WORLD SERIES SHIFTING TO VETERANS STADIUM IN PHILADELPHIA, TIED 1–1 (ABOVE), THE PERFECT LEAFS GOT READY FOR A HOME DATE AGAINST HARTFORD (BELOW).
OCT. 20, 1993
PAUL MOLITOR LEAD THE BLUE JAYS TO VICTORY IN GAME 3 OF THE WORLD SERIES…
WHILE THE LEAFS THUMPED THE WHALERS AT THE GARDENS (ABOVE AND BELOW).
SUN AGAIN MENTIONED BOTH TORONTO TEAMS.
OCT. 21, 1993
JAYS TOOK A STRANGLEHOLD IN HIGHEST–SCORING WORLD SERIES GAME EVER…
WHILE THE LEAFS FLEW SOUTH FOR SOME HISTORY (ABOVE AND BELOW).
THIS MEMORABLE TORONTO SUN FRONT PAGE SAID IT ALL — IN ONE WORD.
OCT. 22, 1993
PHILADELPHIA STAYED ALIVE AT HOME IN THE WORLD SERIES…
WHILE THE LEAFS EQUALED NHL RECORD EIGHT WINS TO START A SEASON (ABOVE AND BELOW).
OCT. 23, 1993
A RELAXED DAVE STEWART GOT READY TO PITCH GAME 6 OF THE WORLD SERIES…
WHILE THE 8–0–0 MAPLE LEAFS LOOKED FOR MORE ON THE GULF COAST.
OCT. 24, 1993
JOE CARTER’S LEGENDARY HOME RUN ALLOWED THE JAYS TO REPEAT AS WORLD SERIES CHAMPION.
AND, THE LEAFS MADE NHL HISTORY AGAINST THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (ABOVE AND BELOW).
FROM THE FRONT SPORTS PAGE OF THE TAMPA TRIBUNE.