From Baseball Obscurity, Another October Star Millions Dream Of Getting The Big Hit That Wins A World Series Game. Ed Sprague Did It.

Posted: October 20, 1992

TORONTO — And now, from the same people who brought you Mark Lemke, Francisco Cabrera and Damon Berryhill, Mr. October Productions proudly presents its latest world-famous postseason hero:

Ed Sprague.

"I've dreamed about this," said Sprague, who burst out of obscurity to bomb a stunning two-run pinch homer off Braves closer Jeff Reardon in the ninth inning Sunday to win Game 2 of the World Series for the Blue Jays, 5-4. ''Coming up. Winning the game. Every kid dreams of that.

"I think every kid does that thing, when you're in the seventh game of the World Series and you're up. Well, before the game, I was doing that (in batting practice) with (coach) Gene Tenace, just fooling around. Then that's the way it turned out."

It was an amazing turn of events. But the World Series is getting real good at amazing turns of events.

In last year's Series, Lemke turned himself into the pride of Utica, N.Y., by batting .417 and crunching as many triples in seven games (three) as he'd had in his entire career before that.

Then came Berryhill in Game 1 Saturday, hitting that game-winning home run off Jack Morris, after playing only when Atlanta's starting catcher, Greg Olson, asked out of the lineup because of that humongous cast on his broken leg.

And then there was Ed Sprague. He spent the year in Syracuse, learning to be a catcher on a team managed by Nick Leyva. He didn't get called up by Toronto until July 31. He then got no pinch hits the rest of the season. He hit just one home run.

And then, naturally, when it came time to get the biggest hit in Toronto Blue Jays history, he did.

"It's amazing when you think about it," said the latest star to come out of Mr. October Productions. "I'm just thankful it turned out how it did."

GOLDEN GOPHER BALLS. Reardon has certainly given up a home run or two in his day. But he may never have given up one that hurt more than Sprague's.

Before that shot, Reardon hadn't allowed a home run in over two months - since an Aug. 14 game-loser to Milwaukee's Jim Gantner. That one came in the 13th inning and was Gantner's only home run of the year.

Even more amazing, Reardon faced 126 righthanded hitters this year during the regular season - and gave up just one home run. Baltimore's Chris Hoiles hit that one, way back on April 15, in Reardon's second appearance of the season.

And while Reardon has now pitched in the postseason with four different teams, he had allowed only one postseason home run before Sprague's bolt. That was another game-blower, to Detroit's Pat Sheridan, in Game 3 of the '87 playoffs, while Reardon was still with the Twins.

Since starting the season by converting 15 of his first 16 save opportunities, Reardon has now blown 10 of his last 26.

K-MART. It isn't every day you get to see two strikeout champs pitch against each other in the World Series. But it happened Sunday, when NL strikeout champ John Smoltz was matched up against David Cone, who struck out the most hitters in baseball.

Last battle between two strikeout leaders in a Series game: Carl Hubbell vs. Lefty Gomez, in Game 1 of the 1937 Series. Gomez won that one, 8-1, but the two combined for only five strikeouts - three by Hubbell, two by Gomez. Smoltz and Cone combined for 10 whiffs - but Smoltz had eight of them.

NOTES. Braves manager Bobby Cox said yesterday he still hasn't decided whether to use Deion Sanders or Lonnie Smith as his DH tonight. . . . You might say the Blue Jays have noticed that they've had 23 bases stolen against them in 25 attempts during the postseason. Yesterday, they called in catcher Pat Borders for his own private one-hour throwing workout.

Before David Cone got two hits for the Blue Jays in Game 2, AL pitchers were 1 for their previous 77 in the World Series - and 2 for 108 since the invention of the DH rule in 1973. . . . Last AL pitcher before Cone to get two hits in a Series game: Mickey Lolich, in Game 2, 1968.

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