Joe Carter 1991 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for April 18, 2017


If you read a blog like this one, chances are you know who Joe Carter is. Seeing him in a San Diego Padres uniform might be a bit odd, but his legacy in baseball history is secure.

Whether you think he was an elite player or someone whose value was inflated by people’s love for RBIs, Joe Carter will always have a clip shown every October because he hit one of the most dramatic home runs in the history of baseball.

His 3 run homer with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series was just the second season ending homer in history. It was also the second “come from behind walk off” homer in World Series history. Kirk Gibson had the first.

And his joyous free for all dance around the bases has to be one of the greatest and most sincere expressions of pure joy on a baseball diamond in history.

An interesting aspect of his career, that lasted 16 years and saw him named to 5 All Star Teams, was the fact that three times, he was involved in blockbuster and franchise defining trades.

Carter was a star at Wichita State University and was drafted number 2 overall by the Cubs in 1981. He was assigned to the Texas League right away and by 1982, was putting up big numbers. He was crushing the ball in Triple A Iowa when he got a call up with the Cubs in 1983. By 1984, he was continuing to hit Triple A pitching while the parent club was putting together a surprise run for the NL East title.

On June 13, 1984, the Cubs and Indians put together a major trade. Chicago picked up veterans Rick Sutcliffe, Ron Hassey and George Frazier. The Indians got Mel Hall, Don Schulze, Darryl Banks and Carter.

The deal gave the Cubs an ace. Sutcliffe went 16-1 the rest of the way and became an unlikely Cy Young winner in the NL (keeping in mind he spent the first 2 1/2 months of the season in the American League!) Chicago fought with the Mets for most of the season before pulling away and clinching their first post season appearance since 1945.

While the Cubs failed to make the World Series after their meltdown against San Diego, Sutcliffe became a major part of the team. He nearly winning a second Cy Young Award when the Cubs won the 1989 NL East crown.

Meanwhile Carter’s arrival in Cleveland sparked a brief renaissance and hope. Mel Hall became a starter with the team but Carter became the star. He batted .302 with 29 homers and an AL Leading 121 RBI in 1986, and stole 29 bases for good measure in 1986. The Indians posted a winning record and with a super talented lineup, had people believing in Cleveland. Sports Illustrated picked them to win the AL Pennant.

Instead the Indians crashed and burned in 1987. Despite a 32 homer 31 stolen base season from Carter, the Indians lost 101 games.

They had losing records in 1988 and 1989 as well. The team needed a rebuild and Carter, still in his prime but approaching 30, looked like a prime trade chip.

Meanwhile in San Diego, the Padres had an interesting problem. They had the best catching prospect in baseball, Sandy Alomar Jr, in their system. His brother, Roberto, was the starting second baseball for the Padres and they seemed poised to start together for a long time in San Diego. However the Padres also had Benito Santiago, arguably the best catcher in baseball. Plus the Padres had a talented team but looked like they were just a few pieces away from being a legit pennant contender.

After the 1989 season, the Indians and the Padres worked out a swap. Joe Carter would head to the Padres and give the lineup some much needed pop. Sandy Alomar Jr would head to Cleveland. So would infielder Carlos Baerga and outfielder Chris James.

While James would not factor much into the Indians future, Alomar and Baerga became building blocks. Alomar would become the Rookie of the Year and a fixture in Cleveland as they finally became a playoff team again. Baerga would make 3 All Star teams and be one of the bright stars on the club that went to the 1995 World Series.

The trade was credited with kickstarting the Indians rebuild to contention.

In San Diego, Carter played centerfield in a lineup that included Jack Clark, Tony Gwynn and Roberto Alomar. Carter homered a bunch and drove in 115. His OPS was an alarmingly low .681, but nobody knew that then. Despite a lot of talent on the team, the Padres could not put a winning product on the field as they stumbled to a 75-87 record.

While that was happening in San Diego, the Toronto Blue Jays could not get over the hump. Despite an organization that scouted and traded with the best of them and a super talented team and academies in the Dominican Republic that gave them access to players that other teams never saw, they couldn’t get past the ALCS.

They lost the ALCS in 1985 and 1989 and saw their teams eliminated on the final day in 1987 and 1990. They were good, but not good enough. The Blue Jays lineup was consistent year in and year out, but maybe there needed to be a shakeup and a change of some faces.

After the 1990 season, the Padres and Blue Jays pulled off a stunning deal. Two Toronto stalwarts, Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff, were packaged off to the Padres. Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter landed in Toronto.

The Padres got quality years from McGriff and Fernandez but ultimately dealt them away and other teams got their glory years.

The deal made sense in Toronto where the emerge of John Olerud and Manuel Lee filled in first base and shortstop, making McGriff and Fernandez expendable. Carter would provide power lost from George Bell’s signing with the Cubs and Alomar gave stability to second base, who had a revolving door after Damaso Garcia’s decline.

In the end, it was a culture change in Toronto. Alomar put together the best year’s of his Hall of Fame career as a member of the Blue Jays. And Carter of course put up big hit after big hit, none bigger than the World Series clincher.

The Blue Jays won the Division in 1991 but failed to get past the Twins. In 1992, thanks in part to Alomar’s homer against Dennis Eckersley, the Jays beat the A’s. When they won the World Series in Atlanta, it was Carter who caught the clinching out.

The Blue Jays went from being the perennial “always a bridesmaid never a bride” to winning back to back titles.

A deal involving Joe Carter can be pointed to as one of the big franchise changing moments in Toronto, just like the deals with the Cubs in 1984 and the Indians in 1990.



MIKE TIMLIN – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 24

(CP PHOTO/Hans Deryk)

(CP PHOTO/Hans Deryk)

OCTOBER 24, 1992 – World Series Game 6

To explain why this entry in the Unsung Post Season Hero series is so special to me, I need to flash back to my front yard in the early 1980s. As a 10 or 11 year old, I would play out a scenario while throwing a whiffle ball.

In a potential clinching game of the World Series, my team is in extra innings and on the road. We have the lead but the home team is rallying. Out of pitchers, the manager had no choice to go to an unknown young pitcher named Sully to come out and clinch it. With the winning run at the plate and the crowd going crazy, I strikeout the last batter and clinch the World Series.

Everyone mobs the little known pitcher who was the unlikely pitcher who clinched it all.

The memory of that play acting was brought to light about 10 years later with Mike Timlin.

The Blue Jays and the Braves squared off in a thrilling World Series in 1992. The two teams split the first two games in Atlanta before the Blue Jays took a pair of one run games and established a 3-1 lead with 1991 World Series hero Jack Morris taking the mound for Game 5. The Braves beat Morris and sent the series back to the South.

Game 6 was a classic game. The hero of Game 3, Candy Maldonado, homered in the 4th to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. The game turned into a bullpen game as a galaxy of pitching stars threw for Toronto. David Cone, Todd Stottlemyre, David Wells and Duane Ward held the lead.

In the 9th, the Blue Jays handed the ball to star closer Tom Henke who looked to clinch the series and give Canada their first World Series title. In the bullpen, Mark Eichhorn and Mike Timlin, two middle relievers further down the depth chart, figured out how they would celebrate the final pitch.

But the Braves, like they did against the Pirates in the NLCS, rallied. With 2 outs and 2 strikes on Otis Nixon, the Blue Jays were a pitch from the title. Otis Nixon singled home the tying run and suddenly the Blue Jays found themselves in extra innings and had already burned through their best relievers.

In the 10th, Toronto manager Cito Gaston turned to game 4 starter Jimmy Key, who kept the Braves off of the board. In the 11th with 2 outs, Dave Winfield redeemed his previous post season failures with a 2 out, 2 run double and put the Blue Jays back on top.

Key came out to clinch the World Series but got in trouble early. He allowed a lead off single and the next batter reached on an error. The never say die Braves had the winning run at the plate.

Key got a pair of outs but let up a run in the process. Now it was a one run lead and clearly a call to the bullpen was needed. But with their best relievers already used, Gaston turned to Mike Timlin.

The 26 year old Texan had played in the post season the year before but let up a go ahead homer to Minnesota’s Mike Pagliarulo. He had been reduced to a mop up role in the World Series.

Now Timlin found himself in the game. As I watched the game from my dorm room at NYU, I started going crazy. Timlin was enacting my scenario. The Blue Jays had run out of their better known pitchers. Timlin was relatively anonymous. Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was going bananas.
Otis Nixon, who had tied the game in the 9th was at the plate. The tying run, in the form of pinch runner John Smoltz was at third. It was Timlin’s game to save.
On the first pitch, the speedy Nixon dropped a bunt. A perfectly placed bunt with tie the game and put Nixon on as the potential winning run.
Timlin pounced on the ball and threw to first baseman Joe Carter. It was a close play but Timlin got him. My scenario was played to perfection. The unlikely Mike Timlin saved the game and the Blue Jays were World Champions.
But there was a problem in the celebration. The team poured out and mobbed… Joe Carter.
Mike Timlin was on the outside looking in for the scrum. He celebrated to be sure, but he wasn’t the focus on the celebration. Even the photos of the final out focused on Carter jumping up and down and not Timlin. (And to think, it would not even be Carter’s most famous jump at the conclusion of the World Series as a year later his homer would make the Jays back to back champs.)
I always felt for Timlin, or maybe I felt badly for myself. The perfect ending to my scenario was to have the team mob ME. And I felt a connection to Timlin and wanted his reality to match my fantasy.
In the end, Timlin won 4 rings all together. He was part of the 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays and the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox. As a Sox fan, I was thrilled when he joined my team. I had been rooting for him for years.
It was the great final out that should be Mike Timlin’s calling card of greatness and glory. That’s why I declare him the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 24.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – October 28, 2014

 (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Tonight is Game 6 of the World Series.

Those words can bring up so many different memories. Who will be the Reggie Jackson, Carlton Fisk, Don Denkinger, Bill Buckner, Kirby Puckett, Joe Carter, Tom Glavine, Josh Beckett, David Freese or Nelson Cruz of the night?

Meanwhile I all but beg Joe Maddon to take over the Dodgers.

It could be a memorable night that is previewed on The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.


Continue reading