Roberto Alomar recalls his Game 4 1992 ALCS home run
Although Roberto Alomar and Dennis Eckersley faced off a mere four times from 1988 to 1991, Alomar had never recorded a hit against his future Hall of Fame teammate.
Instead, he had been dealt two strikeouts, keeping his batting average at an uncharacteristic .000.
But Alomar was a quick study, and in 1992, those numbers were about change, ironically during a season when Eckersley won both the American League MVP and the AL Cy Young Award.
“I loved learning the game, I was a student of the game,” Alomar said in a Voices of the Game event at the Hall of Fame.
“I liked to learn it, watch it and ask questions. Every negative comment, I would make it into a positive; it helped me become the player I was.”
So when Alomar stepped into the batter’s box on Oct. 11, 1992 in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, he came armed with knowledge.
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“At that time I was swinging the bat real well, I believe I had two or three hits before the home run,” said Alomar, whose Blue Jays faced Eckersley’s Athletics for the AL pennant that fall. “Eck was almost unhittable that year. With him, you needed to just look for one pitch inside. I fouled off two pitches on the outside corner, but in my mind, I was looking for a fastball inside. I found a ball in the zone and hit a home run.
“You just have to concentrate on his arm,” Alomar said matter-of-factly. “And then when he lets the ball go, you concentrate on that.”
What Alomar didn’t know at the time was that he had hit one of the most important home runs in Toronto Blue Jays history. But even if he had known, the pressure likely wouldn’t have phased him. Despite his young age of 24, Alomar had five seasons of big league ball under his belt, and played with the maturity of a seasoned veteran.
“I’d say his focus was what impressed me most this season,” said Blue Jays teammate Candy Maldonado to the New York Times after the game. “He had an oldness about him in the field, like some banged-up quarterback. He was a quarterback who understood where his receivers were, what defenses were doing. He played hard and hurt. It was an honor to play with him.”
To put it lightly, Alomar’s home run turned the game around, tying the score at 6-6 and setting the stage for not only an American League pennant win, but the 1992 World Series title. It was the first Championship win for the franchise since their inception in 1977, and would be followed by another title in 1993. Prior to 1992, the Blue Jays had played in three ALCS, falling short of the World Series each time.
But aside from the tangible benefits, Alomar said that the home run carried a degree of psychological importance, as well.
“I remember they used to call the Blue Jays the ‘Chokers,’” he said. “We never could beat the Oakland A’s.
"I think that home run gave us the momentum we needed; the whole team believed we could beat those guys. We went out there after that, we played the right way and we beat them.”
“For us it was a turning point. It just turned the organization around. From that point on, we knew we could beat anybody.”
Alex Coffey was the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum