By Bob Elliott
Tom Mathe is a good doctor.
On the night of Oct. 23, 1993 he was being a good father too.
His daughter Jennifer, 18, and her boyfriend were on their way to the SkyDome to see the Blue Jays play the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series.
“You had better enjoy it, you may never see something like this again in our lifetime,” Dr. Mathe told his daughter and her date in one of those father-knows-best moments.
After the game, after Joe Carter hit a three-run homer in the bottom off the ninth off closer Mitch Williams, after they escaped the traffic jam in the downtown core and after the replay of Jumpin’ Joe was shown on the big board in centre 100 or so times, Jennifer returned home to Mississauga.
The symmetry of the scenario hit Mathe.
“When I was 18 I sat and watched the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens on our TV to win the 1967 Stanley Cup,” Dr. Mathe said, who watched along with his father Dr. Charles Mathe. “Little did my father know that the Leafs would never win another Stanley Cup in his lifetime.”
On Wednesday night the NHL season began with the Canadiens facing the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Habs-Leafs is a big rivalry in Toronto, but as former Jays president Sam Pollock and hockey Hall of Fame inductee used to tell us it was a one-sided rivalry from his days running the Canadiens. “Our rivalry in Montreal was always with the Boston Bruins -- Toronto was never any good.”
And Thursday afternoon -- a national baseball holiday as R.A. Dickey has decreed -- fans will jam the Rogers Centre to the 500 Level rafters and cram the Westjet flight deck in centre.
Bars will be crowded in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, arriving half an early for the 5:07 pm start, Houses and bars in Langley, B.C. will be jumping around noon to see the first post-season game since Carter’s heroics.
Canadian icon, the man who helped Josh Donaldson in his all-star election, Donald S. Cherry of Kingston, will be a pre-game guest on Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun.
So that makes almost 22 years between playoff appearances ... from Oct 23, 1993, to Thursday, a span of 8,020 days. In the mean-time and in-between time the Jays played 3,499 regular-season games and zero games in the post-season.
“I didn’t know if they truly appreciated the significance of the event, how they were there for a part of history, I told them, you never know when it’s going to come around again, how they should savoir it,” Mathe said. “As a Toronto sports fan I’ve become accustomed to following losing teams. I guess it could be worse -- I could be a Chicago Cubs fan.”
Dr. Mathe watched the Carter homer on TV.
Jennifer and her two children, Reese and Ryan, will watch David Price go against Yovani Gallardo as the Blue Jays face the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the best-of-five American League Division Series. Game 2 is Friday afternoon at 12:45 pm.
Perhaps after former manager Cito Gaston throws out the ceremonial first pitch, Jen will even mention how mom saw the Jays last post-season game and tell how it ended. There’s a chance there might be a replay shown.
A few years ago the good doctor took his son Jeff to a Jays game when he was home from Alabama with his wife Brandy, who saw here first major-league game. They’re fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide along with their children Drew and Finley.
“It can be frustrating being a Toronto sports fan,” said Dr. Mathe, “but I have a good feeling about this team. They have played so well for so long since the trades.”
On a personal note trying to be a good father myself in 1993 I bought two strips of post-season tickets for my son Bob.
The home office decided that our 12-year-old son could attend three of the seven scheduled home games during the post season.
He chose Games 3 and 5 of the AL Championship Series, the first a 6-1 Chicago White Sox win as Pat Hentgen was touched for six runs and the second, Juan Guzman beat the White Sox 5-3 as Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar had three hits.
And he chose Game 1 of the World Series as the Jays scored three times in the eighth for an 8-5 win over the Phillies with Devon White and John Olerud hitting homers off Curt Schilling.
He watched Game 6 on TV as Carter went deep and won’t be at Game 1 against the Rangers.
So, as a wise doctor once said “savoir the moment, you may never see something like this again in our lifetime.”