GAME SIX, BOTTOM OF THE NINTH, TWO ON. UP STEPS JOE CARTER. HISTORY ENSUES.
Jerry Howarth Radio
Going to the bottom of the ninth inning, the Phillies open their bullpen door out there in right field and when Mitch Williams came out, Rickey [Henderson], from what they tell me, went right down the dugout bench, his palms [up], he said, “Give me five, give me five. He’s going to walk me on four pitches. We’re going to win this thing.”
Pat Gillick GM
I was sitting with one of our scouts, Moose Johnson. I said to him that if Henderson gets on we’ll tie this thing.
Joe Carter RF
Rickey is a pest, he’s a nuisance, especially when he’s leading off an inning. He’s going to walk. He’s going to make you throw him a strike and with Mitch, who’s very wild, we knew that he was gonna walk him. We just knew Rickey was gonna be on first base. We figured he could steal second, maybe steal third. And that’s one run. Once he gets on base he’s almost guaranteed to score every time. That’s how great a leadoff hitter he is. I know that Mitch is nervous. We got the upper hand, we feel like. Now Mitch has to worry about Rickey stealing second base; his mind is not really on the hitter, it’s on Rickey.
Duane Ward RP
The worst thing [Williams] could have done is walk the leadoff guy. That gets him in the mode of saying, “I’ve walked one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball; he’s also one of the best base-stealers.” Being up by one run, I’m sure that played on him a lot. He may try to change something here or there in his delivery and sacrifice a little bit of stuff for location.
With Henderson creeping off the bag at first, Devon White worked the count full before flying out to left-centre.
Bob Elliott Journalist
White had a big long at-bat and Molitor said that really helped him. He said, “If White had hit the first pitch, I’d have gone up there trying to hit a home run and it would’ve been a 6-4-3.” He said, “White’s the only guy who didn’t get a hit in the inning, but he dialed me down a notch, so I just took a simple approach.”
Paul Molitor DH
I remember watching Devon’s at-bat and thinking, “Man, you’re going to get a chance to live that boyhood dream to hit a home run to win the World Series.” And then I remember thinking, “Don’t let your mind go there. Just try to have a good at-bat and hit the ball.” The odds of me going up there and hitting another home run weren’t good. But I knew that I was hitting pretty good, so the odds of me going up there and keeping the inning alive and giving the other guys a chance were there.
Molitor’s simple approach resulted in a single to centre that put the winning run on first and brought Joe Carter to the plate.
My idea was to go up there with a game plan: I’m not gonna swing until I get a strike. I was gonna take. Some people become anxious and swing at a bad pitch, the first pitch. I hadn’t faced Mitch in five or six years. He was really new to me, but that was my game plan. I didn’t mind hitting deep in the count; it didn’t bother me.
I’m taking a good lead because I’m not sure if Rickey is going to try to steal third, and if he does I’ve got to be ready to steal second. I’m out there far enough that I could get a pretty good look at the signs and I was trying to see what they were going to throw to Joe.
First pitch I take, ball. Next pitch, ball two. So now I’m really relaxed. OK, he’s going to throw me a fastball down the middle; he has to throw me a strike. Next pitch is a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Now I’ve seen three pitches, it’s two-and-one. Now I’m ready to swing the bat. Base hit will score Rickey and get Molitor to third. Next pitch he throws a breaking ball and I lose it.
The swing that Carter took on the 2-1 pitch might have been the ugliest second-strike swing I have ever seen.
The second baseman, Mickey Morandini, had moved right behind second base because I was a dead-pull hitter. When Mitch let go of the ball, the background was Morandini’s jersey, so the ball was moving in and out of shadows. I lost it and it dropped on me.
He was certainly trying to hit a home run on the 2-1 pitch. Somebody near me said, “What do you think?” And I said, “I don’t know. What do you think?” And the guy said, “6-4-3. See you tomorrow night. Drive home safely.”
I said, “OK, I really gotta concentrate.” Luckily for me, Morandini moved back over to the first-base side. Now at two-and-two I’m telling myself, “OK, he’s gonna throw the breaking ball because he made me look bad on it.” I gotta look breaking ball, even though that goes against the rules of baseball—you’re never supposed to look for the breaking ball. I get in there and he shakes off the first sign. Had to put down curveball and he shook him off. Is he trying to bait me? I said, “Joe, stick to your plan, he’s going to throw the breaking ball. Stay back, wait and put the ball in play.”
[Williams] shook off the sign and I remember thinking, “Oh man, he just shook off the slider and is coming with a fastball. I’ve got to get a bit more of a lead.”
Mitch Williams PHI RP
He was 0-for-4 off me lifetime. I knew how to pitch him. I knew he was a down-and-in hitter. The pitch was a mistake. It was supposed to be up and away.
Jim Fregosi PHI MANAGER
Mitch kind of slide-stepped and sped his delivery up and threw a bad slider down and in. What else is there to say?
I hit a fastball that he kind of cut. I didn’t know it was a fastball, because it went down and in like a slider. Because I was thinking breaking ball, I was able to keep the ball fair.
I remember thinking, “Stay fair! Stay fair!” because he hooked so many balls foul—he was a dead-pull guy. Pitchers used to pitch him in and they’d hook him foul, hook him foul and he’d get two strikes on himself.
When I made contact, I looked up and I couldn’t see the ball. All I saw was the bank of lights in left field. I knew I hit it good, but I didn’t know if I hit it high enough to get out. That’s what all the jumping was as I was going to first base: I was trying to see what the elevation of the baseball was and help it out of the park. To see Pete Incaviglia stop at the wall and give up on it, and to see it go out was like an out-of-body experience.
The following is excerpted from “When We Were Champs”—a Sportsnet magazine special issue, on newsstands now. It’s also available on your iPad, Kindle and Kobo.