You had to see it not to believe it

JOHN EISENBERG

October 21, 1993|By JOHN EISENBERG

PHILADELPHIA -- It was, simply, the most astounding baseball game you will ever see.

"I think it might go down in the annals as one of the all-time games," Phillies manager Jim Fregosi said.

Twenty-nine runs, 31 hits, 254 minutes from the first pitch to the last.

The highest-scoring game in the history of the World Series.

There was a six-run inning, a five-run inning, two four-run innings, a three-run inning.

"Just about everything happened," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said.

A bullpen phone didn't work.

A World Series probably was won.

The Phillies fell behind by three, went up by one, pushed the lead to three, fell back behind by one, got tied, went up by five, had it cut to three, stretched it back to four, then five, then stood with jaws gone slack while the Jays scored six runs in the eighth to win.

By one.

Those wacky extra points!

There were 62,731 people in the stands on a cool, misty night at the Vet. The luckiest fans in years.

You can't tell them that today, of course. The Phillies scored 14 runs and lost. The Series, apparently about to be tied in the eighth, now appears firmly in the grasp of the Jays, who have a 3-1 lead.

But Game 4, 1993, will find a place with the best games of them all. It was a classic piece of baseball theater.

Jays starter Todd Stottlemyre yielded four runs in a four-walk horror of a first inning, wasting a three-run lead the Jays had given him. No one in the dugout said a word to him when he got the third out.

He ended a Jays rally in the second by trying, and failing, to make it safely from first to third on a two-out single to center, turning his chin into a bloody mess with a headfirst slide worthy of an R rating.

He returned to the mound, dripping blood from a scrape that resembled a map of Indiana, and immediately yielded a single to pitcher Tommy Greene. Followed by the first of Lenny Dykstra's two homers.

The only thing Stottlemyre didn't do was walk Ed Rendell, the mayor of Philadelphia, who, as you might have heard, had pleaded for a shot. Let's just say that it's a good thing Rendell couldn't play.

Dykstra also hit a homer in the fifth and, in between, just missed one in the fourth, banking a double off the right-field wall. Give him those three feet and he's Reggie Jackson. Three swings, three homers. From a guy who weighed 140 pounds in high school.

It was that kind of game.

This kind: When Gaston signaled for a reliever in the fifth, the wrong guy came in.

He asked for lefty Tony Castillo. A righty, Mark Eichhorn, made the long run in from the bullpen.

Castillo wasn't even warming up.

"A malfunctioning phone in the bullpen," explained a baseball spokesman.

How about those big-leaguers?

The Phillies pummeled every Jays pitcher. They took a 12-7 lead in the fifth. The Jays cut it to three, but the Phillies pulled back away to a 14-9 lead.

"It looked like they had the game," said Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez.

But the Jays have this remarkable quality. They let you think you've got them, and then, soon, they've got you. Just ask the Orioles. The Yankees. The White Sox. And now, the Phillies.

Of course, the Phillies tried to win it with Mitch Williams. On a night like this, they should have known.

Fregosi brought in Williams in the eighth, with the Phillies still up three. Rickey Henderson singled in two runs to cut the lead to one. Devon White, fashioning a fabulous postseason, doubled in two more runs to give the Jays the lead, 15-14.

Their first lead since 7-6. Several touchdowns hence.

Then Gaston brought on Duane Ward, his fortysomething-save closer. Out of chaos, finally, came order.

They played the theme song from "Rocky" before the bottom of the ninth. The people who were still in the stands, stunned, exhausted, tried to summon one more cheer. Ward silenced them. Mariano Duncan popped up. John Kruk took a called third strike. Dave Hollins flied out to center.

On a creepy night fit for Stephen King, a night when mist turned to rain turned to mist turned to rain, baseball played one that can't be topped.

The record for runs in a Series game had stood since 1936.

The game lasted so long that Letterman pre-empted the morning show.

"We just didn't score 20 runs," Fregosi said long after midnight. "Usually the team with the last at-bats wins a game like this."

Not this time.

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