You’ll Always Remember Your First … Pennant Race

The Fist Pump

Some years in sports just stick with you, I’m sure many would agree?  For me, the 1989 A.L. East pennant race between the Blue Jays and Orioles was one of those years.  The image from that year that will always stick with me (and many Blue Jays fans) is the Tom Henke fist-pump as he strikes out Orioles’ Larry Sheets on the next-to-last game of the ’89 season,Jays89.jpg clinching the A.L. East for the Jays. 

It the greatest fist pump in the history of fist pumps, in my opinion.  Tiger Woods has nothing on that fist pump.  Seriously!  Henke was a very tall player, so that added to the drama as he raised his arm all the way in the air and virtually down to ground in the emphatic fashion only a fist-pump can provide.  It was like he was putting a nail in coffin of the Orioles (sorry O’s fans).  Being very young at the time, I needed that fist pump to help me acknowledge what the Jays had accomplished.  It was a long, gruelling race and the Jays had sealed it.

I recently tweeted on my page @talkinhomer about the moment to @MLB, with trend tag #MLBmoments. I even recieved some bitter responses from Oriole fans (unfortunately for them) remembering being on the losing side of the same race.  In one instance, the fist-pump even evoked some

regurgitating out of one Oriole fans mouth.  Believe me, it was that good of a fist-pump!     

*(my apologies as my internet research skills did not acquire a link to a clip of the ‘Fist Pump,” but believe me it was a beautiful fist-pump in terms of fist-pumps) *       

1989

At the age of 7, it was probably the first year that I actually followed a baseball season (and somewhat realized what was going on).  The Jays of ’89 were a very competitive team having been to ALCS four years earlier and on the verge of starting something extremely special in the four years that were to come.  I was feverishly collecting baseball cards at this time (as were many kids+plus adults), I watched the Buffalo Bills fall apart in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants (the first Super Bowl that I ever watched, creating no chance for me ever to become a Bills fan) and my favorite Jay player the time was easily the Crimedog, Fred McGriff.  Unfortunately, the Jays would run into a bunch of drug crazy Athletics in the ALCS that year, beginning a brief rivalry between the two teams in the late 80s to early 90s.

My Favorite Player Back Then

In 1989, McGriff hit 36 homeruns, had a .399 OBP, won the Silver Slugger Award and came 6th in MVP voting.  ’89 was also the first year that the Jays played in the Rogers Centre (Skydome) and on June 5th McGriff would hit the stadium’s first homerun.  McGriff would consistantly bank balls of the Windows restaurant in center field for some of my fondest, early memories of baseball.            

2 Comments

The Tigers-Jays race in 1987 was a fun one, too. Too bad Detroit fell apart in the playoffs that year.
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

I got into baseball only a little earlier than you and, while I had National League tunnel vision at that point in my fan development, I do remember the ALCS that followed the division race you wrote about. I didn’t like the A’s much as a kid and was hoping your Jays would keep them out of the Series . Fred McGriff was a heck of a ballplayer. I’m not surprised he was your favorite. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories!
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

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