Baseball: Borders proves vital for Toronto

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The Independent Online
Canada's Maple Leaf flag was flying high - and the right way up - after the Toronto Blue Jays overcame the Atlanta Braves 4-3 after 11 innings of the sixth game to win the World Series 4-2, the first time the pennant of world champions has fluttered outside the United States.

The fact that none of the Canadian club's players was actually Canadian was deemed irrelevant in the land of moose and Molson. The events in Atlanta triggered an enormous party back home. In the land of the Braves, while the Blue Jays' mixture of Americans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans danced to Salsa music on a dressing room floor awash with champagne their fans outside were doing a Canadian version of the Braves' Tomahawk Chop - with ice hockey sticks. Toronto, formed only 15 years ago, had a reputation as chokers, but the bridesmaid tag was discarded in the 11th inning late on Saturday night when a two-run double from the experienced Dave Winfield gave them victory. The 41-year-old outfielder's hit down the third base line brought home Devon White and Roberto Alomar to inflict on Atlanta back- to-back World Series defeats.

'After I failed to get the insurance run in the ninth inning, it seemed like it was fate that I would get the chance to cash the winning run,' Winfield said. 'I can't believe I got the most important hit here.'

The loss was taken by Charlie Leibrandt in his first taste of World Series action; Jimmy Key, relieving, was awarded the win, his second of the Series after prevailing as starting pitcher in the fourth game.

Pat Borders, the Blue Jays catcher who needed a pain-killer to dull the throb of a broken finger, was voted Most Valuable Player. 'It's a shame that they had to give it to one person,' Borders said. 'There's so many other players that still deserve it.' Borders hit .242 in the regular season and .450 in the Series.

Borders and his celebrating colleagues were joined by Bobby Cox, the Atlanta manager, who was in charge of Toronto for three years in the mid-1980s. After hugging the current incumbent, Cito Gaston - who Cox had drafted in as batting instructor in 1982 - the Braves leader said: 'We played awfully good. We could have won with a couple of breaks.'

The climax was watched by 51,763, taking the six-game total to 363,223 and generating net receipts of dollars 14,288,180.18 (about pounds 8m). The players shared a pool of pounds 7m.

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