08/08/07 12:21 AM ET
Carter's shot central to Jays history
Game 6 walk-off blast won the 1993 World Series for the Jays
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Despite winning the World Series one year earlier, Toronto wasn't getting the respect across North America that usually comes with being defending champions.
One swing of the bat by Joe Carter changed all of that. Carter took a 2-2 fastball from Phillies closer Mitch Williams and sent it over the wall in left field to give the Jays back-to-back World Series championships.
"It validated what had happened in '92," says former Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick. "It wasn't a fluke. We showed that we had staying power -- that we were to be reckoned with. I think it proved to people that we were real and not a one-year thing."
The crowning of Barry Bonds this week as baseball's home run king may be a more historical moment, but for pure drama it would be tough to surpass Carter's blast, which without a doubt is the most memorable home run in the Blue Jays' 31-year history.
Carter's heroics came in Game 6, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and the World Series on the line. The Jays, trailing by one, were threatening with runners on first and second when Carter walked towards the plate.
It was a scene ripped straight from the pages of a Hollywood storybook. For decades, children all over the world have spent time fantasizing in their backyards about hitting a come-from-behind game-winning home run to win a World Series.
Yet up until that moment, no one had actually done it. The closest anyone came was Bill Mazeroski's home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which broke a 9-9 tie against the Yankees and gave the Pirates the championship.
As Carter stepped into the batter's box, he stared out at Williams. The two players couldn't have been more opposite.
Carter was an RBI machine whose smooth power swing made him one of the most feared hitters in the game.
After winning the World Series in '92, Carter had become one of the most sought after free agents on the market. He briefly contemplated leaving Toronto but re-signed when the Jays turned him into baseball's highest paid player.
Williams, on the other hand, was an erratic fireballer who earned the nickname "Wild Thing" because of his lack of control. He was famous for his adventurous ninth innings, but always seemed to find a way to pitch out of jams. Williams saved 43 games during the '93 season alone, adding to an already impressive career total of 143.
The Phillies left-hander had allowed Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor to reach base, but with one out, he was just one double play away from securing the Phillies' second straight win and forcing a Game 7.
After working the count to 2-1, Carter swung and missed badly at a slider to even the count. Williams' next pitch was a low fastball to the inner part of the plate, one of Carter's deadliest zones.
Carter pulled the pitch down the left-field line towards the foul pole. He said after the game that 99 times out of 100 he would have hooked the ball foul. Somehow, though, this time it managed to stay fair and the ball disappeared just over the fence.
"I thought for sure it was going to be a double and Henderson would score," says Gillick, who is now the Phillies' general manager. "But I didn't think it had a chance to go out. I was as surprised as anybody when it ended up leaving the park."
Despite being an American citizen, Carter became a poster boy for Canadian baseball. He played four more seasons with the Jays, and in 2003, was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Williams was unable to get his career back on track and never played another game for the Phillies. When he returned to Philadelphia after the Series was over, he was faced with public criticism from his teammates and death threats from fans. He played parts of three more seasons in the Major Leagues but only saved six more games before retiring after the 1997 season.
Even though it's the only come-from-behind walk-off home run to clinch a World Series title, Carter's blast is often overlooked when people discuss the most famous shots of all-time.
Home runs like Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round The World" to win the National League pennant for the New York Giants in 1951 and Kirk Gibson's 1988 pinch-hit home run with a bum knee in Game 1 of the World Series are often ranked higher on people's all-time lists.
That's not something Gillick necessarily agrees with.
"Thinking back in World Series history, it's a little downplayed," Gillick said. "Winning and ending a World Series in that fashion hasn't happened before and maybe there hasn't been as much play or as much written about it as there should have been."
Turns out, maybe those '93 Jays are still searching for a little more respect after all.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.