I've been sharing my memories of the Toronto Blue Jays, absorbed during the fanatical years of 1983-1993. I started by writing about the ten home run attack in September of 1987 and this time I'm tackling the clinching win in 1985.
I thought we were going to clinch on October 4th. With our magic number at 1 for the first time ever, we were tied with the Yankees and the Terminator Tom Henke was on the mound in the ninth. I was listening to the radio in my bedroom, clinging to every pitch called by Tom and Jerry. Butch Wynegar burned Henke for a home run with two out and our celebration was postponed a day.
October 5th was a Saturday and we were off to my Grandmother's house, just outside of Midland, Ontario. We listened to the first half of the game in the car and then watched the rest on television. By the end of the third inning we were up 4-0 and Doyle Alexander was on cruise control. Ernie Whitt, Lloyd Moseby and Willie Upshaw went deep, Alexander pitched a complete game 5-hitter and with two outs in the ninth at Exhibition Stadium, Ron Hassey was at the plate. In only my third year of die-hard devotion, we were about to enjoy our first taste of celebration. Hassey hit a fly ball that George Bell easily caught for the final out. I remember him down on his knees rejoicing, receiving a high five from Tony Fernandez. We had clinched the AL Eastern division pennant.
I carved up the next day's Star to add to my scrap book. Here's the Exhibition scoreboard following the 5-1 win, George Bell's celebration after the catch and the cover of the sports section declaring us "The Champs". I was elated. Kansas City was up next, but we had the big bats and starting pitching behind Alexander, Dave Stieb, Jim Clancy and young Jimmy Key. Up three to one in the ALCS, I was dreaming of a World Series championship. Here's "The Drive of '85" section reminding us there's "only 1 to go". What happened next is another story for another time.
Although I didn't hear it live, here's Tom Cheek's call of that Hassey fly out to Bell on October 5, 1985. For this eleven year old, it was a defining moment, and assurance that my commitment to these birds of summer would be rewarded.