Even though he was in the home dugout at the time, former Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston didn’t see Joe Carter hit his famous home run to win the 1993 World Series.
Gaston had just finished examining his lineup options for who would go to bat after Carter when the slugger turned on a pitch from Philadelphia’s Mitch (Wild Thing) Williams to end the Fall Classic in six games.
“Just as I turned around to put my board down, I turned back around and everybody was jumping in the air,” Gaston said. “I didn’t even see the ball leave the ballpark.”
Carter, Gaston and other members of the ‘93 team shared memories and reminisced Tuesday at a downtown hotel ahead of a 25th anniversary reunion dinner.
Gaston ended up watching the homer later that evening on a replay. The ‘Touch ‘em all, Joe!’ blast gave the Blue Jays an 8-6 win and a second straight World Series title.
Carter said he was expecting a breaking ball on the two-strike pitch.
“He came with a fastball down and in and that’s my happy zone,” Carter said. “That’s the beware zone. So I was able to keep it fair and as they say, the rest is history.”
Blue Jays infielder Alfredo Griffin, meanwhile, had a great view of the homer.
In a utilityman role at the time and no longer the everyday player he once was, Griffin was fighting some major-league jitters in the on-deck circle.
“I was scared as hell,” Griffin said with a laugh. “I didn’t want to go to bat. I was praying for Joe Carter to end the game right there and God listened to me. He let him do it. That was amazing.
“I was the happiest guy on that field. As soon as the ball was hit, I threw my bat up and started jumping.”
Gaston had debated sending Darnell Coles up as a pinch-hitter after Carter, but Griffin would have got the nod since Gaston liked that he had solid numbers against Williams.
“I’m a warrior so I was never afraid to play the game,” Griffin said. “But honestly I was happy as hell when Joe hit it.”
The Blue Jays have reached the post-season on two occasions since. Their long playoff drought ended in 2015 with the first of two straight American League Championship Series appearances.
Toronto finished fourth in the East Division this season with a 73-89 record.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press