During the summer of 1983, I spent a few days at my uncle's cottage which I think was near Penetanguishene, Ontario. My memories of where it was located are hazy, but I vividly recall the voices of Tom and Jerry. The Blue Jays were in the midst of an 89-73 breakout season with Dave Stieb, Willie Upshaw, Damaso Garcia and Jesse Barfield leading the charge. I was in love.
For the next decade, Blue Jays baseball was my escape. I listened and/or watched as often as possible, I read the box scores daily and I worshipped at the alter of Tom and Jerry. George Bell was my favourite, but guys like Jim Clancy, Lloyd Moseby and Rance Mullineks were my unsung heroes. During that decade of Blue Jays baseball we won five division pennants and back-to-back World Series titles. I have a ton of sparkling memories, and throughout this month I'll be sharing them on this page. Here's my first crack at it.
The summer of 1987 was a particularly rough period in my personal life. My parents had split and on September 14th my little brothers and I found ourselves visiting our father in a motel just outside the city. The Orioles were in town and that meant catching the action on the little motel television. It was as if our ball team knew the personal stress and sadness of the day, because they helped us cheer up and get comfortable in a hurry. On September 14, 1987, lightning struck ten times at Exhibition Stadium, and a major league record that remains unbroken was set for our benefit.
Ernie Whitt started things off with a long ball in the second inning and he'd add two more before the day was through. Only Otto Velez had ever hit three home runs in a single game for the Jays, but Whitt wasn't the only one swinging a hot bat. George Bell and Rance Mullineks hit two apiece, Lloyd Moseby hit his 23rd of the season, Canadian Rob Ducey went deep for the first time all year and Fred McGriff hit our tenth of the day to give Clancy an easy 18-3 win. Ten home runs, ten reasons to cheer, ten reasons to forget where we were and why we were there.
In 1999, Cincinnatti hit nine out against the Phillies, but they didn't hit ten. Nineteen years later, this record remains ours. Here's hoping that never changes.