Something I had always wondered about was the final out of the 1992 World Series. It’s a random thing to wonder, but I always have because it’s such a strange way for a deciding World Series game to end.
With two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, leading 4-3 with 2 outs and the tying run at third base (oddly enough represented by John Smoltz), Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston removed left handed starter Jimmy Key in favor of a 2nd year right hander by the name of Mike Timlin. With the count 0-1, Otis Nixon tries a bunt, Timlin fields it, throws to Joe Carter at first base and the Toronto Blue Jays won their first of back to back World Series.
What I’ve always wondered was did Nixon catch the Blue Jays off guard with his bunt? (Much the way that Jake Taylor did against the Yankees in Major League, which came out 3 years earlier.) Tim McCarver says on the broadcast that Nixon could bunt, but in a do-or-die situation, would a player batting over .300 for the series really try to bunt his way on and tie the game?
This past week I had the extreme privilege to play golf with Mike Timlin at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club and I asked him about this very play. This is what Mike told me on the 10th tee in Belgrade.
“I came in with two outs and Smoltz at third. When I got to the mound, Cito Gaston told me, watch for the bunt. I throw my warm ups and Pat Borders (catcher and eventual series MVP) comes out and tells me to watch out for Nixon, he may try to bunt here. So at that point I had a pretty good idea that he may try to lay one down. The first pitch, I throw a fastball and Otis barely gets around on it and just manages to foul it off. Otis turns around and his eyes are big as saucers looking out at me. He knows he can’t get around on me. That’s when I knew he was going to try to bunt. Sure enough, the next pitch he bunts it to the right side. At that point, you just react, you don’t have time to think.”
You can watch the entire game back on Youtube and there it is. Timlin throws an outside fastball and Nixon batting from the left side, barely manages to serve the ball foul towards the visitors dugout. On the next pitch, Nixon bunts and Timlin vaults off the mound to make the series winning play.