Former Toronto Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado has only foggy memories of his magical four-homer night in 2003.
A nasty cold nearly forced him to skip the game altogether.
Delgado struggled through batting practice before the Sept. 25 game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at SkyDome. He took some medicine and went to lie down on the trainer’s table.
“I told the trainer, ’Wake me up at 10 to seven,”’ Delgado recalled Wednesday.
Batting cleanup that evening, the Blue Jays first baseman was groggy but soldiered on. Delgado told himself to just try to focus on the basics.
He got things started in his first at-bat by belting a three-run shot off Tampa Bay starter Jorge Sosa.
“I think the medicine really affected me because I saw every pitch right down the middle of the plate,” he said. “And when I look at the video, it was a curve ball down and away, it was a change-up down, and then by the time I went to the plate in the fourth at-bat, I kept telling myself, ’Don’t try to do too much, don’t try to hit another one because it’s not going to work.”’
After hitting a pair of solo shots, Delgado faced Lance Carter in the eighth inning with nobody on. He worked a 2-2 count and expected the Tampa Bay reliever to follow with a change-up.
Delgado guessed right and pounced, becoming the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in one game.
“The boys were giving me a hard time for flipping the bat,” he said. “I didn’t do it on purpose. I was just in la-la land.”
The performance in the 10-8 victory helped cap a tremendous season for Delgado, who finished second to Alex Rodriguez in American League most valuable player award voting that year. Delgado had 42 homers and 145 RBIs that season, one of the best in his 17-year big-league career.
He was rewarded for his accomplishments Wednesday as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame named him to its Class of 2015. Delgado will be inducted on June 13 in St. Marys, Ont., along with former Canadian players Corey Koskie and Matt Stairs, longtime Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou and sportswriter Bob Elliott.
“Each of our 2015 inductees has made significant contributions to the history of baseball in our country and they continue to be great ambassadors for the game,” Hall of Fame director of operations Scott Crawford said in a release. “We’re proud and excited to celebrate their careers in St. Marys this June.”
Delgado had eight straight 30-homer campaigns with Toronto and is the team’s all-time leader in home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), doubles (343), runs (889), total bases (2,786), slugging percentage (.556), extra-base hits (690) and walks (827).
Delgado, who also played for the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, finished his 17-year career with 473 home runs and 1,512 RBIs. He was added to the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence in 2013.
“I’m very honoured and humbled to be selected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame,” he said. “This is unbelievable news. I always say that you do not play the game for the awards, but if at the end of the day you get that recognition from your fans and peers, it means a lot. And this is extra special to me because of the relationship that I have with the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans all across Canada.”
Koskie, a native of Anola, Man., helped Minnesota reach the playoffs from 2002 through 2004 and had brief stints with the Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers over his nine-year big-league career. He also played for Canada at the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.
Stairs, a native of Saint John, N.B., hit 265 homers over 19 seasons in the major leagues. He started his career with Montreal, spent parts of two seasons in Toronto and made several appearances on the national team.
Alou was part of the Montreal organization as a player, instructor or manager for 27 years. The three-time all-star had 2,101 career hits and spent parts of 10 seasons as Expos manager, winning the National League manager of the year in 1994.
Elliott, a native of Kingston, Ont., was a regular in the Expos’ press box until joining the Toronto Sun as a Blue Jays beat writer in 1987. He is currently the newspaper’s baseball columnist.