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Home Sweet Homer
Steve Rushin
November 01, 1993
After his dramatic home run gave the Blue Jays a second straight World Series title, Joe Carter touched home plate and touched off a SkyDome mob scene
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November 01, 1993

Home Sweet Homer

After his dramatic home run gave the Blue Jays a second straight World Series title, Joe Carter touched home plate and touched off a SkyDome mob scene

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In fact, Carter looked at the replay when the moment was but an hour old, ducking into the Blue Jays' video room to see the insanity one more time and emerging with newly moist eyes. "The fans in Philadelphia saw a great 15-14 ball game," Carter said, by way of explaining his feat. "I guess we had to give something to the fans in Toronto."

Ah. The home run, to hear Carter tell it, was only a fair exchange for the Great 15-14 Ball Game, the epic—James A. Michener's Philadelphia—which had concluded three nights earlier in the City of Brotherly Love. The Great 15-14 Ball Game was Game 4 at Veterans Stadium, the highest-scoring game in the 532-game history of the World Series. It set or tied 13 records in all. It was the longest nine-inning night game ever played in the major leagues, four hours and 14 minutes of imponderably poor pitching that some-how made for powerful entertainment. "It was," veteran Toronto scout Gordon Lakey said afterward, "the most exciting game I've ever seen."

The Blue Jays led the series 2-1 when Game 4 began in a relentless drizzle. Major League Baseball officials sat morosely in a roofless Plexiglas box behind home plate, each one of them looking like a man in a dunk tank, as untold indignities were visited upon their pastime. In the top of the first, Phillie starter Tommy Greene walked in the first Blue Jay run. In the bottom of the first, Toronto starter Todd Stottlemyre walked in the first Phillie run. All told, there were six walks in the first inning, at the end of which the score was Philadelphia 4, Toronto 3.

If Carter's home run was the enduring heroic image of this Fall Classic, then a Classic Pratfall in the second inning of Game 4 was a slapstick memory that also will remain: Stottlemyre inexplicably attempting to go from first to third on a single by Roberto Alomar; Stottlemyre sliding face-first as if he were sniffing for truffles around third base; Stottlemyre being thrown out, improbably, 8 to 6 to 5; and Stottlemyre, his chin bloodied, being asked by trainer Tommy Craig to read the unfathomable scoreboard (of all things) to prove his coherence.

After three innings of this nonsense, the Blue Jays led 7-6. In the fifth, Jay reliever Leiter, one bead in a very long necklace of relievers who would pitch on this night, was contemplating his first major league at bat. "See how this feels," teammate Ed Sprague suggested, offering one of his bats.

"I don't give a——-how it feels," said a laughing Leiter, whose last hit came for Central Regional High in Bayville, N.J., where he batted .220 in 1984. He wasn't going up there to hit, for Pete's sake. And yet Leiter immediately doubled to leftfield and felt a little silly afterward for worrying about one little AB.

After all..."What's the worst thing that can happen?" Phillie centerfielder Lenny Dykstra had asked last week, apropos of playing in the World Series, before answering his own question. "You can become a hero." That's the worst thing that can happen to you in the World Series.

So Dykstra became a hero in Game 4, hitting two home runs, missing a third by two feet and driving in four runs altogether. The Phils drove Leiter out of the game in the fifth inning, when they scored five times to take a 12-7 lead. Then, and only then, did all hell break loose.

Blue Jay manager Cito Gaston had called for reliever Tony Castillo to come in from the bullpen to replace Leiter. But the bullpen phone didn't work. It kept ringing and ringing but—Great Cito's Ghost!—there was never a voice at the other end. And no one was eager to answer the bell, anyway. As Leiter would note of the bullpen phone on this October evening of carnage, "You just say, I hope it's not for me." So Mark Eichhorn, a righthander, had mistakenly come in from the pen to relieve Leiter, and Cito wanted to know why Castillo, a southpaw, wasn't there instead.

Well, 23 people eventually congregated in the infield during this pitching change: There were guys in business suits, umpires, players, the Vet grounds crew spreading water-absorbent kitty litter around the bases and the batter's box...there were clowns juggling, men on unicycles spinning plates (or so it seemed, anyway). From overhead the game looked like an Esther Williams routine. Cito was given walkie-talkies to communicate with his relievers, but they didn't work either, and he eventually made do with human carrier pigeons running back and forth between the dugout and the bullpen.

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