September 8, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Mike Timlin still has the ball.
Yes, the now 56-year-old former Toronto Blue Jays reliever, who fielded Atlanta Braves speedster Otis Nixon’s bunt in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1992 World Series and threw it to Joe Carter at first base for the final out, confirmed this during a team reunion on August 27.
“It sits in a glass case, along with the hat, the jersey, the six tickets (from the six 1992 World Series games) and my glove in my house,” Timlin told Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae in an interview during the Blue Jays telecast on August 27.
That ball is one of the most sought-after artifacts in Canadian baseball history. For, with that out, the Blue Jays became the first Canadian team to win the World Series.
“It’s definitely one of the Holy Grail artifacts in our country’s baseball history,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “We’d love to have it on display in our museum.”
Then a 25-year-old reliever, Timlin took over for left-hander Jimmy Key with two outs in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1992 Fall Classic with the Blue Jays clinging to a 4-3 lead. The Blue Jays led the series 3-2 and with one more out, they’d win their first championship.
Timlin was warned that Nixon might bunt and sure enough on a 0-1 pitch, Nixon attempted a drag bunt. The right-hander sprang from the mound, fielded the ball and threw it to Carter for the out.
Carter leapt for joy, as the Blue Jays players rushed from the dugout and formed a dogpile near the mound. After the celebration had somewhat subsided, Timlin asked Carter for the ball.
“I went to Joe and I’m like, ‘Dude, that’s my save. I want the ball,’” recalled Timlin in the reunion video. “And he was like he didn’t want to give it to me.”
Carter also shared his response in the video.
“I go, ‘But I caught it.’ And I go, ‘OK, man, you can have the ball,’ so I gave him the ball,” recounted Carter.
Timlin and Carter recreated that final out in a pre-game ceremony on August 27 with much of the 1992 team reunited at Rogers Centre.
Tony Giese, consignment director at Heritage Auctions, estimates this ball would fetch $20,000 to $30,000 at auction.
“But there’s no price guide on memorabilia,” cautioned Giese.
He says the ball would likely garner interest right across Canada.
“Sports memorabilia is getting more and more mainstream and all it takes is two guys with deep pockets that could drive that thing up into six figures,” said Giese. “I wouldn’t guarantee you’re going to get six figures on it . . . but you’re not going to find another one. It’s literally a one of one and it’s so historic because that was the first World Series won by a team north of the border.”
Marc Juteau, president of Classic Auctions in Delson, Que., agrees, but he is hesitant to put a value on the ball.
“It definitely would be way up there,” said Juteau when asked about the historical significance of the ball. “It’s the last out ball. That’s a great piece.”
Classic Auctions sold Timlin’s 1992 Game 6 World Series jersey in the fall of 2011 for $1,977.73, but it would likely sell for more today.
“The market has evolved quite a bit since then, especially in the last couple of years,” said Juteau. “There are a lot more collectors out there and the prices have been raised quite a bit.”.
Over the years, Heritage Auctions has sold several historical 1992 Toronto Blue Jays items, including the glove that Devon White used to make “The Catch” in Game 3.
In case you’ve forgotten, Atlanta Braves slugger Dave Justice belted a ball deep to centre field in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the 1992 World Series at SkyDome. White leapt into the wall and made a miraculous catch to begin what should’ve been a triple play. The glove that White used for that play sold for $4,440 in a Heritage Auctions sale in February 2020.
Heritage has also sold 1992 World Series rings, including one awarded to Blue Jays scouting supervisor Duane Larson, which commanded $9,261.25 in October 2012.
In 2015, SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, Calif., sold bench coach Gene Tenace’s 1992 World Series ring for $18,840. And just this June, Classic Auctions sold a 1992 Blue Jays World Series ring that was ordered for an employee with the last name “Stanton” for $5,662.80.
“The rings are quite popular and there’s not a lot of them on the market and they always bring decent value when we put them up,” said Juteau.
On top of the healthy market for 1992 Blue Jays World Series items, the ball in Timlin’s possession is also a last out ball which appeals to a wider group of collectors. Giese says Heritage Auctions has sold at least two last out Word Series balls.
In November 2016, they auctioned the last out ball from the 1908 World Series in which the Chicago Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers for $119,500. In that same year, they sold the last out ball from the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox for $71,700.
“I think that would probably be pushing $100,000 now though,” said Giese of the 1986 ball.
So Timlin’s 1992 World Series ball has a lot going for it. It’s a piece of Canadian history, it’s a last out ball and there’s been renewed interest in the Blue Jays World Series-winning teams in recent months.
But it doesn’t sound like Timlin, who earned four World Series rings in his 18-season big league career, plans to part with the ball anytime soon, but if he did . . .
“That type of ball brings out bidders that aren’t just fans. These are guys that own businesses who can afford whatever they want and you get two of those guys and everything is off the table,” said Giese. “It could go for $100,000.”
Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series winning walk-off home run ball
Giese says the ball Joe Carter hit for his walk-off 1993 World Series-winning home run would command substantially more than the 1992 ball. He estimates that it would garner around $250,000 at auction.
Carter still has that ball in his possession.
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