Twenty-five years ago, the rough and rowdy Philadelphia Phillies faced the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series. William Kashatus recounts the match—and the precluding season—in Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code (Nebraska, 2017). The following is an excerpt from Chapter Fourteen.
Toronto was an offensive powerhouse with an American League–leading .279 batting average and the second most runs scored in the league, with 847. The Blue Jays’ lineup featured the AL’s top three hitters: John Olerud (.363 batting average), Paul Molitor (.332), and Roberto Alomar (.326). Olerud, Molitor, and cleanup hitter Joe Carter also collected more than one hundred RBI each that season. The Jays’ pitching wasn’t as overpowering but was still impressive. Led by nineteen-game winner Pat Hentgen, the starting rotation also featured fourteen-game winner Juan Guzmán and twelve-game winner Dave Stewart. Duane Ward, the closer, boasted a league-leading forty-five saves.2
Like the Atlanta newspapers, Toronto’s sportswriters chided the Phillies about their infamous appearance and sophomoric behavior. The Toronto Star described the Fightins as “a motley crew of hairy, beer-soused brutes who haven’t a hope of beating our beloved Boys of Summer.”
“Oh, they be bad,” wrote columnist Rosie DiManno. “They be bold. They be ballsy. Most of all, they be comely as a baboon’s butt, which might be considered a compliment in that particular clubhouse. They chew, they spit, they cuss, and belch. They are a species that could be found tippling brewskies in any Legion hall, a slo-pitch team sponsored by Billy Bob’s hardware perhaps, except this particular group of hardy ‘n’ lardy sportsmen have made it to the World Series.”3
The Globe and Mail was kinder, reporting, “Enough of the Phillies are round and lumpy and mangy—enough of them are crude—enough of them have nicknames like ‘Nails’ and ‘Wild Thing,’ that in the otherwise prefabricated world of professional sports, they stand out.” And the Toronto Sun ran a contest, “The Phillies are so ugly that . . .” The eventual winner was: “the turf spits back.”4
Far from being offended, the Phillies played up their motley image. . . .
The Series opened at Toronto’s SkyDome on Saturday, October 16. Curt Schilling faced Juan Guzmán before a sellout crowd of 52,011. After two stellar outings in the NCLS, Schilling was disappointing. The game proved to be a seesaw battle, with the lead changing nearly every inning. Although the Phillies spotted Schilling a 2–0 lead in the first inning on run-producing singles by John Kruk and Darren Daulton, the right-hander surrendered four hits and two runs in the second, and the Blue Jays tied the game, 2–2.
Mariano Duncan put the Phils back in front in the top of the third when he singled, stole second, and scored on a single by John Kruk. But Toronto tied the game in the bottom of the frame when Devon White hit a routine fly to left-center. Milt Thompson and Lenny Dykstra went after the ball and just missed colliding as the ball deflected off Thompson’s glove. The bungled play allowed White to advance to third, and he scored on Joe Carter’s sacrifice fly.
The Blue Jays took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth when Schilling surrendered a 373-foot solo homer to John Olerud. Toronto erupted for three more runs in the seventh on one-out singles by Pat Borders and Rickey Henderson, sending Schilling to the showers. David West came in and promptly surrendered back-to-back doubles to White and Roberto Alomar before Larry Andersen ended the rally.
Trailing 8–4 in the eighth, the Phillies had an opportunity to narrow the deficit when Kevin Stocker singled and Dykstra reached first on an error by Alomar. But the Fightins folded, managing to score just one more run on a two-out RBI single by Jim Eisenreich in the ninth.6
“I thought Schilling had good enough stuff to win,” said manager Jim Fregosi after the 8–5 loss. “He just didn’t make enough good pitches when he needed to. If you get the ball up and over the plate, they’re going to hit it, and that’s what happened.”7
The Phillies were not the only ones seeking revenge in Game Two. Dave Stewart, Toronto’s starting pitcher, had spent two seasons with the Phils before they sent him packing. In May 1986 Stewart, then a twenty-nine-year-old veteran middle reliever who was just coming off arm surgery, was trying to make a comeback. He was teaching himself a split-finger fastball, but the Phillies wouldn’t allow him to use it in the four games he pitched that spring. Stewart struggled, posting a 6.23 era, and the Phillies released him at the end of the month.
Believing that he could still pitch, Stewart returned home to Oakland, where he signed a Triple-A contract with the A’s. After appearing in one game for Tacoma, the tall right-hander was promoted to Oakland, where he finished the 1986 season with a 9-5 record. During the next four years Stewart was the ace of the A’s staff, winning at least twenty games a season and compiling a 10-3 postseason record. His most effective pitch was the split-finger fastball.8
Now Stewart was being given the opportunity to make the Phillies pay for their mistake. But after two scoreless innings the Phillies’ offense went to work on him. Sending eight batters to the plate, the Fightins scored five runs on RBI singles by Dykstra and Dave Hollins and a three-run homer by Jim Eisenreich.
Although Phillies starter Terry Mulholland had control problems, he did not surrender a hit until the third. Nor did he give up any runs until the fourth, when Joe Carter blasted a two-run homer into the short left-field bleachers. But when Alomar singled and scored on a Tony Fernández double in the sixth to narrow the Phils’ lead to 5–3, Fregosi, not wanting to take any more chances, lifted Mulholland.
Stewart was pulled by Jays manager Cito Gaston after the sixth. Reliever Tony Castillo, making his first appearance in the World Series, was given a baptism by fire when Dykstra led off the seventh with a home run over the Phillies’ bullpen in right field. For the Phils Roger Mason entered the game in the bottom of the inning and retired the side in order. After recording the first out in the eighth, Mason gave up a double to Molitor.9 The Jays’ designated hitter later admitted that he was relieved to hit the double. “If it had been a single, I’d be stuck at first base having to listen to Kruk,” he said. “John talks non-stop. Basically, he tries to convince you that you were lucky to get a hit. Then he spits on your shoes.”10
One out later Fregosi elected to go to his closer, Mitch Williams. Paying no attention to Molitor on second base, Wild Thing allowed the base runner to steal third. Olerud followed with a sacrifice fly, and suddenly the Phillies’ lead was reduced to two runs, 6–4.
Inside the Phillies’ dugout, Curt Schilling could not bear to watch. He found a towel and hung it over his head as he had done throughout the postseason whenever the closer entered a game.
2. Jayson Stark, “Phils vs. Blue Jays: The Matchups,” Philadelphia Inquirer World Series Guide, October 15, 1993.
3. Rosie DiManno, “‘I’m Not a Slob,’ Kruk Protests,” Toronto Star, October 16, 1993.
4. Gordon and Burgoyne, Beards, Bellies and Biceps, 213, 223.
6. Frank Fitzpatrick, “Jays Down Phils in Opener, 8–5,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 17, 1993.
7. Fregosi quoted in Michael Bamberger, “Fregosi Didn’t Say Much after Game,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 17, 1993.
8. Bill Conlin, “Stewart on Long List of Mistakes Made by the Phils,” Philadelphia Daily News, World Series Preview, October 15, 1993.
9. Jayson Stark, “Forgotten Ace Emerges to Put Mark on Game 2,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 18, 1993.
10. Molitor quoted on Late Night with David Letterman, season 1, episode 42, October 26, 1993.