At Canuck Baseball Plus, we assembled a list of the five greatest announcer calls in Canadian Baseball history, but with a twist. For most of you readers, it’s easy to foresee the top two calls without scrolling down. Tom Cheek’s call of Joe Carter’s home run to win the World Series would be first, and Jerry Howarth’s call of Jose Bautista’s home run in the American League Division Series would be second. But for this list, to avoid predictability, the voices of Tom and Jerry will not be included. So here’s the list of the best calls that weren’t scripted by our greatest voices.
After making a total of 10 starts in the Regular Season, Ed Sprague somehow managed to make the Toronto Blue Jays 1992 postseason roster. Sprague, a member of “The Trenches,” a rallying cry that himself, Derek Bell and Turner Ward came up with, had a magical night on October 18th in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. It was game two of the World Series between the Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves. Closer Jeff Reardon was looking to send the series back to Toronto with the Braves up two games to none. With one out and Bell on first in the ninth inning, a ground ball could end the game. But on the first pitch from the Braves closer, the 24-year old became a fan favorite by hitting a fastball over the left-field fence to give the Jays the lead, which turned into a victory.
Sean McDonough making his World Series debut for CBS had the call along with Tim McCarver in the broadcast booth. This call by McDonough is a personal favorite. It’s simple; “Home Run, Ed Sprague,” while capturing the moment perfectly; “Off the bench with a pinch-hit two-run homer off Jeff Reardon to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 5-4 lead.” McDonough has had an incredible career in sports ever since but is best remembered for his early announcing days as the Boston Red Sox voice.
2010 was Jose Bautista’s coming out party. The career-long utility man became the first player in Blue Jays history to hit 50 home runs in a season. He achieved the mark when he clubbed a ball over the left field fence during a day game in late September. The Blue Jays were way out of the American League East race and Felix Hernandez, who was enjoying a Cy Young season, faced off against Canadian-born right-hander Shawn Hill. Bautista hit a first-inning 2-1 pitch high into the sky, and when it fell, it was indeed number 50.
Buck Martinez; one of two men to have been a play-by-play announcer, player, and manager for one franchise, was once again back calling Blue Jays games after a long hiatus. In one of the most excellent baseball calls since Sportsnet began broadcasting the Jays on television, Martinez started his home run call no different than any other as he said; “Swing and a drive.” The opening line was followed up by a location update “High fly ball, left field,….“This is Deep, This is 50!” A perfect call, clear and precise. Who doesn’t love an excited Buck?
Gary Carter was the most popular player on the Montreal Expos back in the day. He loved the city, he resonated with the fans, and he was a superstar on the diamond. He played his first 11 years in Canada where he put up some monster numbers, especially for a catcher. Carter later played for the New York Mets where he won his first and only World Series Championship. After stints with the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, “The Kid” came back home for his final MLB season. And in 1992 on the 27th of September in his last professional at-bat, Carter hit a double over ex-teammate Andre Dawson’s head in right field for his last career base knock. It was one of the more magical moments in Expos History, and it was the finishing touch of a Hall of Fame career for number eight.
Since the Chicago Cubs were visiting Montreal that night, announcers Harry Carey and Steve Stone had the call. Carey, who had one of the more distinctive voices in sports history, described the play with excitement unusual for an opposing announcer. The capper and clincher of his call was the finishing line; “Enjoy it all pal, you’ve earned it,” touching and emotional words from one Hall of Famer to another. The stage, the crowd, and the call allowed this moment to be listed as number three on our list.
After many seasons of mediocre ball, the Toronto Blue Jays were legitimate contenders for the first time in 1985. On October 5th of the year, the Jays finally had a chance to clinch the Eastern Division. It was the second last day of the season, and the Blue Jays were facing the New York Yankees. Doyle Alexander, better remembered as the man who was traded for John Smoltz, was phenomenal on this day. The right-hander went the distance, allowing only five hits and one earned run. The final out recorded was a fly ball to left field, and no one other than George Bell was there to make the catch as he then fell onto his knees to celebrate the Blue Jays first-ever postseason berth.
The ballgame was called by Fergie Olver, the Blue Jays television play-by-play man and game show host of “Just Like Mom,” in the 1980’s. Olver’s call was just beautiful, capturing the thrill and excitement of finally making the postseason. “How about those Toronto Blue Jays” is a saying that will be remembered as long as the Jays are in existence, a terrific line ending off a tremendous season.
And of course, Joe Carter’s blast is number one on the list. After catching the final out in the 1992 World Series, Carter had a chance to put the finishing touches on the Phillidephia Phillies on the 23rd day of October. One of the craziest series’ in the history of the game came down to Mitch Williams, the closer of the Phillies, up against Carter, the Jays slugging right fielder. With Rickey Henderson on second, Paul Molitor on first, Joe Carter was the batter. Carter got ahead in the count right away 2-0 and then fell back behind 2-2, but the next pitch was an inside fastball, and we know what happened next. Phillies third baseman Dave Hollins once said, “it was the loudest sound I’ve ever heard in my life, the sound inside the dome.”
Sean McDonough was back again in 1993 calling his second and last World Series for CBS. McDonough’s call was perfectly timed with the crowd’s reaction, “Well hit down the left-field line! Way back!” and then the crowd took over, making it nearly impossible to hear exactly the final word said. Like most of McDonough’s calls, this one was pure and accurate. When it came to McDonough, less was always more. He honestly had one of the best voices I have ever heard.