Fifteen years ago today Dave Winfield of the Toronto Blue Jays hit a two-run double in the eleventh inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves. It was the sixth game of the Word Series, and the Blue Jays became the first non-American team in baseball history to win the top title of “America’s pastime”.
I remember this game well, since I had only been nineteen for six or so months and was still in my binge-drinking phase. I and many of my friends were in a bar in Milton watching the game on television (like 20 million other Canadians) and the deafening sound of that group of people when that hit was made will forever be etched in my memory.
This World Series was (as could be expected) marked by controversy. The United States Marine Corps “accidentally” displayed the Canadian flag upside down during the opening ceremony. Many considered this a deliberate insult to Canada, but the Corps apologized officially and offered to carry the Canadian flag in the opening ceremony of the next game in Toronto. They did so, and most considered the issue settled.
The fact that the Jays went on to win the next World Series was just icing on the cake.
Despite galvanizing the city with the win (and again the next year), the Toronto Blue Jays could not overcome the shame Torontonians felt at not having won a Stanley Cup for twenty-five years.
Note: It’s now been 40 years since the Leafs won a Cup. The shame is acute.