Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years (and yes, some of them are losses). This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 8.
THE DATE: Oct. 20, 1993
THE GAME: Phillies vs. Toronto Blue Jays, Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
THE STAKES: Game 4, World Series
THE GREAT: Up until the 1993 World Series, the most gut-wrenching game in Phillies’ history was either “Black Friday” or just about anything that happened in September 1964. I’d heard my father talk about them all, including being a 15-year-old at one of those late 1964 games the Phillies blew.
Little did he know that after an October week in 1993, his childhood memories of classic Phillies single-game collapses would no longer hold a candle to mine. And if it wasn’t for the horror that was Game 6 of that 1993 World Series, than Game 4 probably would be regarded significantly higher on the “Holy *%$! I can’t believe they tore my heart out again” scale of classic Phillies’ losses.
As it is, it’s now just considered a footnote in both Phillies and World Series history, with more runs scored in that single game than any other World Series game. Perhaps it doesn’t have a true place in awful Phillies lore because there isn’t a definitive scapegoat, not a single focus on Mitch Williams or on an umpire every Philadelphian is positive blew a bang-bang call at first.
No, nearly everyone who pitched for the Phillies that night shared some blame, and so did manager Jim Fregosi for trotting “Wild Thing” out there for almost two innings when his arm was barely attached to his shoulder at that point. Honestly, it’s still hard for me to even think about.
The Phillies weathered Tommy Greene coughing up seven runs in the first three innings and took a 14-9 lead into the top of the eighth. But that didn’t last long as Larry Andersen, also admittedly now running on fumes, got torched to start the inning. That gave way to Williams, who … we don’t need details. He blew it.
The memory of Devon White’s two-run triple to take a 15-14 lead in the eighth – a lead the Jays never gave up – and “Wild Thing”’s stunned, scared and sad look at the hit still sometimes wakes me up suddenly in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. It was jaw-dropping in the worst way.
If you were watching with friends, you turned to them and didn’t say a word. You just had your mouth open with big eyes wide open pointing at the TV like you’d just seen “Poltergeist” for the first time at 8 years old.
It was that scary, that unbelievable, like all of my father’s worst Phillies choke-job memories all coming back and haunting me at one time.
You will never, ever be able to convince me otherwise: If the Phillies won Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, they go on to win the series.