Tagged: Fred McGriff

You’ll Always Remember Your First … Pennant Race

The Fist Pump

Some years in sports just stick with you, I’m sure many would agree?  For me, the 1989 A.L. East pennant race between the Blue Jays and Orioles was one of those years.  The image from that year that will always stick with me (and many Blue Jays fans) is the Tom Henke fist-pump as he strikes out Orioles’ Larry Sheets on the next-to-last game of the ’89 season,Jays89.jpg clinching the A.L. East for the Jays. 

It the greatest fist pump in the history of fist pumps, in my opinion.  Tiger Woods has nothing on that fist pump.  Seriously!  Henke was a very tall player, so that added to the drama as he raised his arm all the way in the air and virtually down to ground in the emphatic fashion only a fist-pump can provide.  It was like he was putting a nail in coffin of the Orioles (sorry O’s fans).  Being very young at the time, I needed that fist pump to help me acknowledge what the Jays had accomplished.  It was a long, gruelling race and the Jays had sealed it.

I recently tweeted on my page @talkinhomer about the moment to @MLB, with trend tag #MLBmoments. I even recieved some bitter responses from Oriole fans (unfortunately for them) remembering being on the losing side of the same race.  In one instance, the fist-pump even evoked some

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regurgitating out of one Oriole fans mouth.  Believe me, it was that good of a fist-pump!     

*(my apologies as my internet research skills did not acquire a link to a clip of the ‘Fist Pump,” but believe me it was a beautiful fist-pump in terms of fist-pumps) *       

1989

At the age of 7, it was probably the first year that I actually followed a baseball season (and somewhat realized what was going on).  The Jays of ’89 were a very competitive team having been to ALCS four years earlier and on the verge of starting something extremely special in the four years that were to come.  I was feverishly collecting baseball cards at this time (as were many kids+plus adults), I watched the Buffalo Bills fall apart in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants (the first Super Bowl that I ever watched, creating no chance for me ever to become a Bills fan) and my favorite Jay player the time was easily the Crimedog, Fred McGriff.  Unfortunately, the Jays would run into a bunch of drug crazy Athletics in the ALCS that year, beginning a brief rivalry between the two teams in the late 80s to early 90s.

My Favorite Player Back Then

In 1989, McGriff hit 36 homeruns, had a .399 OBP, won the Silver Slugger Award and came 6th in MVP voting.  ’89 was also the first year that the Jays played in the Rogers Centre (Skydome) and on June 5th McGriff would hit the stadium’s first homerun.  McGriff would consistantly bank balls of the Windows restaurant in center field for some of my fondest, early memories of baseball.            

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Childhood Baseball Cards

Allow me to share with you some of my early childhood baseball cards.  I found these hidden away somewhere.  Many of my fondest memories of baseball, come from baseball cards actually.  I traded them, I purchased them, I played with them and to this day I still hold onto them.  I picked these particular cards because they are all great Blue Jays in my mind.

Click! (for a better view)

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You’ll notice many of these cards have the McDonald’s ‘M’ on the corner, this is because they were purchased during a time when McDonald’s had a special promotion for the Jays World Series wins in the early 90’s.  Not that it was the healthiest thing to do, but I urged my parents to take me McDonald’s pretty much everyday when those cards were in distribution.  McDonald’s always gets you as a kid, it is almost unavoidable.  Some of the others are government of Ontario/A&P grocery cards, Topp baseball cards and Donruss I believe.  I think we got the A&P cards for free with a large grocery purchase. What an idea!  I wish more places gave you free ‘Blue Jay’ baseball cards, because I’d pretty much be there.

Here is a brief description of the players I selected (it is all a part of the baseball card sharing process):

Most of you probably know Joe Carter, he hit the greatest homerun ever hit in Blue Jay history winning the ’93 World Series. 

You probably also recognize Fred ‘crimedog’ McGriff, he was an excellent Jay for many years untill he was traded for Carter. 

Jack Morris played with Jays for only two years, but had an awesome year in 1992 going 21-6.  

Kelly Gruber was a top notch third baseman that made one All-Star game for the Jays.  I felt bad that he never got to hit in that game.  The closest he came to action was the on-deck circle.  He was also my little brother’s favorite player. 

A guy you probably wonder:  ‘what is this guy doing on this cologue.’ Well, that is Rob Ducey.  I decided to put him on because he is Canadian, and a Blue Jay.  The guy was probably the only Canadian baseball player that I identified with in those years.  He was a seldom used utility player, but did Canada proud regardless.

Dave Stieb‘s no hitter is idolized in the card above.  Stieb is arguably the ‘greatest Jays pitcher of all-time.’  I’ve never seen a man adjust himself on television so much in my life. He right up there next to Al Bundy in the adjusting ‘Hall of Fame.’      

Tom ‘the terminator’ Henke was my favorite Jay’s closer.  The guy was dominant.  I’ll always remember him pumping his fist after the Jays won a one-game playoff for the AL East pennet over the Orioles.  He also looks amazing similar to my dad.  Two great men I would add.

Cito Gaston brought the Jays two World Series in the early 90’s.  Were are hoping he translates that magic into the present day.

Pat Tabler was with the Jays for one World Series in 1992.  Today he does great color commentary for the Jays in my personal opinion.  The guy flat out loves baseball – it is obvious.  I personally enjoy hearing him on Blue Jay telecasts.

Devon White is the ‘greatest center-fielder the Blue Jays have ever had.’  Vernon Wells has been a fine player for the team, but Devon White was so important to both the Jay’s World Series teams.  His amazing catch in the 1992 World Series showed how the guy just ‘ate up’ numberous doubles and triples in the gap.  Sorry Vernon, but you are going to have do some work for that label!

Well, those are some of my cards.  It was a lot of fun sharing them with you.  I feel like a kid again.

Thank you!