Over the past week, Toronto fans have been treated to the re airing of the 1992 World Series, easily some of the most important games in team history.
For the first time since 1992, these games are being broadcasted across Canada giving legions of Blue Jays followers a unique opportunity to relive the past while also providing those fans who may not have been old enough or involved with the team during that season, a chance to view the series they have only read or heard about in conversation.
Although I was only 5 at the time, I can vividly remember only certain things from those games. Fragments of what truly was an incredible run of 6 games between 2 evenly matched ball clubs both vying for a chance to be called World Champions.
To tell you that at 5, I had a firm grasp on what a Triple Play was would be a lie however I can remember the outrage caused by Bob Davidson when he blatantly missed Gruber’s Tag. Same can be said about Jimmy Keys dominance in game 4 or David Cone’s RBI’s in the second game of that series. Although I did not understand the importance of such feats at the time, these are all moments that have stuck with me since becoming a fan in the early 90’s.
Having only the World Series films and a few other productions made by the team during the glory days to showcase the video of that World Series Run, I have taken to a number of books and box scores in order to fill in the blanks prior to the re-airing of the series on Sportsnet.
During my reading’s I have stumbled upon a number of key games that helped shape the Toronto in to the club that they are today. A number of these key games took place during the team’s inaugural season however one tilt stands out in the lore of Blue Jays history.
The date was September 10th, 1977. The scene – the Bronx Zoo, New York.
The 46-92 Blue Jays were set to take on the 87-54 Yankees in what was sure to be a David vs Goliath type of match up between a pair of teams headed in opposite directions. The Yankees, although flawed, were en route to the post season while Toronto was headed to the basement of the American League.
Jim Clancy squared off against Catfish Hunter in an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium (II) during the final month of the regular season and a total of 20,296 New Yorker’s showed up to watch the Yankees pad their 3 game lead over Boston in the American League East.
Toronto’s line up included opening day hero, Doug Ault as well as Ron Fairly and 3rd baseman Roy Howell while New York featured such potent bats as Chris Chambliss, Lou Pinella, Thurman Munson and future Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. On paper, the match up almost seemed unfair.
The opening shot was fired by Roy Howell as he doubled in his first at bat, scoring Alvis Woods from 2nd in what would be his first of 9 RBI on the afternoon. Jim Clancy was able to get the Yanks 1,2,3 on a trio of fly balls to the outfield and the game was under way.
By the half way point in the game (bottom of the 4th) Clancy was staked to a 5 run lead and was steamrolling the potent Yankee offense having struck out both Jackson and Pinella in their 1st AB’s.
The 7th inning saw the Blue Jays cap of their 2nd consecutive 5 Run inning having taken advantage of some spotty defense by New York while adding to their 13 Run advantage. The rout was on and tensions were high in the Yankee dugout.
When the final out was recorded (a Fred Stanley ground out to the mound, 1-3) the Blue Jays had defeated the Yankees 19-3 behind a solid pitching performance turned in by Jim Clancy and an absolutely dominating offensive game put forth by Roy Howell.
With the Blue Jays a total 39 ½ games back of the division leading Yankees coming in to this game, Toronto handed New York their worst defeat at the fabled Yankee Stadium since the 1925 Tigers steamrolled the Bombers 19-1. It’s been noted that following the 5 Run 6th, the Yankee faithful turned on there hero’s and began cheering for a stunned Toronto team shocked to hear something other than an array of chirps coming out of the New York stands.
“I was thinking that maybe the league should allow expansion teams 1 concession – when we win a game like this that we be allowed to put all our excess runs into a reservoir and use them at a later date” quoted team manager, Roy Hartsfield following the Blue Jays rout.
If Sportsnet is exploring the idea of broadcasting a series of past games during this off season, September 10th, 1977 should be given some serious consideration. A game that I have spent a great deal of time reading about, but have never seen.