WFNY Roundtable

What is your Rajai Davis home run story? – WFNY Roundtable

Rjai Davis Lightning

With the news that Rajai Davis has signed a one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics, the memory of his heroics in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the World Series resurfaced. Knowing what happened next, these are some tough feelings to bring back up, but no one can take away the moment when Davis restored hope to the Cleveland Indians.

Here are a few of those memories from the staff at WFNY:

Dave: It was late, my wife and I were sitting at opposite ends of the couch. There was sadness, frustration, helplessness. This Cubs juggernaut couldn’t be stopped. We just had to sit there and listen to Joe Buck whisper sweet nothings to Kyle Schwarber and learn to accept the inevitable. Then Rajai Davis came up. And he choked up. Laymen wondered what the heck he was doing, but every little league manager knew that choking up was the only way to catch up to a 100 MPH fastball. When the ball was hit Mary Ellen and I both jumped off of the couch. It seemed at the time like it was taking forever. We watched, we looked at each other and we did a bizarre combination jump-hug and we both yelled with delight and excitement. We’re we worried about our neighbors? Not really, they were doing the same thing. When the rain delay hit, I walked outside because I heard people talking. A neighbor from across the street had come across and was talking to my next door neighbor. I went outside to talk to them and we traded a series of “Holy Shit!” exclamations. We all remember what happened later, but I’ve never experienced a baseball moment like that before.

Michael: Let’s reset the stage real quick. It was 6-3 in the eighth inning with two outs. Aroldis Chapman and his 100 mile per hour heater had come to the mound to relieve Jon Lester who just gave up a weak infield single to Jose Ramirez. Game 7 was feeling like the Game 6 dominance of the Chicago Cubs all over again. We were watching at home, and the kids had left the room assuming they knew the outcome. My wife had the “poor guy” pity look on her face as I refused to grapple with the reality that the Indians were about to lose the final three games of the World Series. And then Brandon “southpaw killer” Guyer laced a run-scoring double. Never forget Guyer was the one who set the stage. He is the one who cracked the shade for just enough sunlight to peek in that hope was restored. “If Rajai hits a home run here, then it’s a new game” was the proclamation my wife made as I nervously said I’d be happy with another double to keep this thing going. Of course, Davis fouled four Chapman fastballs off before crushing that game-tying home run. I don’t remember the next few moments other than the kids returned for high-fives and cheers and remained to watch Davis knock in Guyer again in inning 10. A cruel twist being that RBI only got the Tribe within one rather than the championship.

Either that or the ghost of Jose Mesa aided in the whole thing.

Scott: Craig and I were in the first row along the first base line. As anyone who entered Progressive Field during the World Series will tell you, Chicago Cubs fans were everywhere. As the game wore on, my row mate was getting antsy about watching the season end the way it appeared to be heading. When Chapman came in, however, the mood began to change. While Indians fans were nervous about a flame-throwing closer taking the bump, Cubs fans were more so, knowing not just how history had unfolded many times before, but that this one man was pitching on short rest and was being asked to do even more. “You’re going to tie it,” said the fan behind us as Brandon Guyer reached first base. “It’s Rajai Davis,” I said. “He’s hit like nine home runs all season.”1

What happened next was a bit of a blur—a sort of euphoric blackout unlike any I’ve experienced before—but what I remember is watching Davis flick his heavily choked bat at a pitch around the shins, and watching it soar… and soar… Progressive Field was insanely loud, but during those few seconds, I didn’t hear anything—it was movie-like silence, at least until the ball caromed back into the field after hitting that left field camera. I’ve never jumped higher into the air at a sporting event than I did that night. Hugs and high-fives and crescendo screams. It was a moment that, given the timing and magnitude and characters involved, will never be topped. That the Indians didn’t win the entire thing was a shame, but it was a moment so big that even the eventual loss could do little in the way of diminishing it. Rajai Davis will forever be welcomed back to Cleveland.

Craig: I could very easily just say, “What Scott said.” We were there together, as he said, and it was the one moment of pure joy and relief that I can remember from Game 7. That whole series wasn’t much fun in our home park, and for that one moment I felt like we had the upper hand over the invading Cubs fans. I thought it was the turning point where another fan base with more cursed history than we had was going to be crushed into oblivion. It was just so unexpected and huge in a moment against a villainous player on the mound in Chapman. I’ll always appreciate that mini moment of good defeating evil even if Chapman’s team ended up winning.

Josh:  Given the fact that it was a work night, East 4th began to clear out somewhat, with the Indians trailing by three and about to lose their third-consecutive game to the juggernaut who was expected to win it all. But, there was a group of us who still had hope. A Cleveland sports fan my entire life, I knew never to give up on a team, a very good team at that, no matter what the score was. The group had thinned out, but there were still plenty of us watching on the television outside of one of the bars. Then, it happened. While I don’t remember exactly what I did at that exact moment, I do remember jumping around, high-fiving strangers, being able to hear the cheers not only downtown, but from those in Progressive Field a well. I then realized that, maybe this was Cleveland’s year. Honestly, at that moment, I thought the Indians had it in the bag. There was no one way they were going to lose the game now.

While the rain delay put a damper on the mood (and momentum), I truly do believe that if there wasn’t a rain delay, the Cleveland Indians would have won the World Series. But, it is what it is, right? The Indians may have lost the game in the end, but Rajai Davis will forever go down in team history for that home run. It’s a moment I will never forget.

Kyle: Like most of my fantasies, it began in Hawaii. Unlike most of my fantasies, this one actually happened… which may partially explain why it ended the way it did. My pretense for being in Honolulu was a work conference, one of those legitimately important but nonetheless silly “professional development” exercises that even my financially-emaciated public sector employer is willing to indulge. I was sitting in a tourist haven a few hundred feet from Waikiki Beach with a fellow Indians fan I befriended at the airport (more evidence of my hypothesis that no one is never more than 100 feet from someone from Ohio). I was watching Andrew Miller forfeit a home run to the geriatric David Ross to put the Indians down 6-3 around the time a Hawaiian beach sunset was unfolding directly behind me — a fitting metaphor for all the things I’ve neglected in my life for the sake of sports.

Sometime around the top of the eighth inning, a Cubs fan at the end of the bar got cocky with his team up three runs and picked up my bar tab. The uninitiated would mistake this as a gesture of goodwill, but I knew better. Not to be outdone by a rival smart ass, I returned the favor by buying him and his girlfriend each a shot of Jägermeister, a foul alcoholic green syrup enjoyed straight only by the truly wicked and myself. The Cubs fan reluctantly slurped down the liqueur, sporting a grimace that betrayed a disgust for both the beverage and the karmic swing he had tempted. Within five minutes of the fan’s premature celebration, Brandon Guyer had brought the Indians within two runs with an RBI single. I was feeling good. When Rajai Davis struck his immortal tying blow to deep left field, I screamed involuntarily, knocked my stool over, and nearly lost my arm doing one of those full wind-up high fives that the frail shouldn’t attempt without a spotter, as the bar of mildly interested travelers briefly exploded in pandemonium.

Alas, my attempt to manipulate fate came up short. A few hours later, I was quietly staring down, stirring some french fries in a pool of ketchup, listening to some shitty non-offensive mid-2000s pop like Maroon 5 or Gwen Stefani try to sedate me into enjoying a Mai Tai while the Cubs showered one another in Champagne in my team’s locker room. Then I went back to my room to eat pretzels dipped in nacho cheese while listening to Ryan Adams Live at Carnegie Hall between fits of quiet sobbing — which, to be fair, is how most of my fantasies end.

Jim: I have to preface this with the simple fact that I’ve been through so much with this team over the years, as we all have. My first memories were at the old Municipal Stadium, watching those red-clad teams play really bad baseball. When they didn’t win a series in ’95, and nearly won in ’97, it tore out my soul. In ’97, after they lost, I didn’t move for what seemed like hours. I needed the taste of that gone. I needed a new memory…a better memory.

That Game 7 was painful for me. I didn’t go out to watch it. I didn’t drive downtown, as I was planning. I just stayed home. I wanted to watch every second, take in every nuance, without having to worry about distractions. But that game was painful. When Kluber started losing his grip on the game, it felt pretty hopeless. When Miller gave up the home run to David Ross, I honestly wanted to turn the TV off. But I couldn’t.

When JRam hustled out an infield single with two outs, I felt like something could happen. When Guyer doubled, scoring JRam, I KNEW something big was going to happen. But up came Rajai, and I couldn’t watch. I turned the the radio on, turned off the TV, and prayed.

The minute the ball was hit, you could hear it in Tom Hamilton’s voice…”Swung on…LINED TO DEEP LEFT FIELD…IT IS…….GONE!!!!!” I don’t remember much, over the next few seconds. I remember screaming…I remember running outside to see if anyone else was running outside…and then thought…TV…TURN ON THE DAMN TV!

Watching that stadium, in that moment…wiped my heart clean. I’ll never forget 1997. It pains me to even mention it, but somehow, even in loss, that eighth inning home run felt like a win. I could taste a series in the ninth inning of that Marlins game in ’97, just like I could taste it here in 2016, but for some reason, the pure joy of that home run, in a game we shouldn’t have been in after Kluber and Miller failed to dominate, in a series we shouldn’t have made it to a Game 7 in, was perfect.

Pat: I was getting so incredibly frustrated with the team. They were blowing this incredible chance to make history in their home stadium. It seemed like no one could touch the Cubs’ pitchers and they were getting close to the point where they would bring on Aroldis Chapman to throw some smoking 103 mph fastballs right down our gullets and give us an even smaller chance to win the game.

I had to get out of the house. I had to change my luck, change my mindset, change my underwear; I had to do something! It was already really late, but I decided to drive over to the Buffalo Wild Wings that is only a couple of minutes from my house and watch the game there with a couple craft beers to share the misery with other Indians fans2. I was already starting to feel a little better even though the team was still playing poorly.

Suddenly, the Indians had something cooking. Brandon Guyer was standing on base when Rajai Davis belted a curling liner that seemed like it was destined to hit the wall for a double. But it never did. Instead it just hung in the air like it stole Michael Jordan’s secret to extending hang time, and it smacked against the railing above the wall. I went crazy, I couldn’t help myself. I yelled out and gave high fives to every Indians fan who was celebrating there with me. I couldn’t believe the Indians could pull of something like that. It truly felt magical, and it’s one of the rare memories that will actually stay vivid and vibrant in my head throughout the rest of my life, regardless of the final outcome of the game.

  1. Fuzzy math. []
  2. There were plenty of Cubs fans too, as it happens. []

  • Kevin Huyghe

    Myself… I.. missed it. Kind of. My wife and I had a 9 day old baby, our first child, and we were exhausted, and knew it was only a short matter of time until he would wake up and cry. We didn’t want to watch them lose… so we turned it off (in the 8th inning). She went up to bed, I started tidying up the kitchen and such before heading up myself, but I was following along on my phone… and then that turned to just standing there staring at gamecast on my phone… and then that turned to me, in a very loud whisper… yelling upstairs megan…. MEGan… MEGAN!!!!!!. WE JUST TIED IT. And her responding – “Are you freaking kidding me?!?” Then the rain delay…

  • Pat Leonard

    Good story! The rain delay was such a huge negative for the Tribe, but I remember at the time I was still buzzing from the home run and couldn’t be brought down from that high. The rain delay felt like it lasted 2 minutes to me.

  • Kevin Huyghe

    Yeah that’s so true… I watched the replay so many times and was absolutely flying and felt like this was it we are going to do it that the rain delay flew by. I think she actually went upstairs to tend to the baby during it and I shouted up that it was back on, but then by the time she came downstairs to watch the damage was done..

  • Garry_Owen

    Was in a hotel room in Charleston, WV (let that sink in) on a business trip. Was only following the game on a phone app while I got some work done, having turned the TV off a couple of innings earlier as I couldn’t stand any more of Joe Buck or images of Kyle Schwarber (sitting on the bench), Cubs fans in Cleveland, and all the rest that was just “too much.” When Guyer notched the double, I turned the TV back on (sound off). When Davis hit it, I dropped my work, flipped the sound back on, and quietly (and very much alone) flipped out, saying to myself, “We’re gonna do it! We’re gonna do it!” I tried repeatedly to reach my wife via phone or text (“It’s tied! It’s tied! Turn the game back on!), to no avail. She had given up before I had, and went to bed with her phone downstairs.

    When they called the rain delay, I knew we were done, but I kept the TV on, but turned it off for good before the final at-bat was even officially concluded. I was not going to watch a second of the Cubs’ celebration alone in my dumb hotel room.

  • formerbrownsfan

    I had turned the game off. I was occasionally glancing at the game on MLB At Bat on my phone with the sound off. My way wife was dozing off on one couch while I moped on the other. I looked down at my phone just as Davis swung. I leapt off the couch screaming . My wife had a minor heart attack. Totally worth it.

  • Eric G

    I was watching with my wife, kids, and my buddy who is a Laker fan by heart, but who was rooting for the Warriors in the Finals, but is a Tribe fan when they’re not playing the Halos (in retrospect, I should have had him rooting for the Cubs). The girls are young and don’t really understand competitive sports, so they were just yelling when I yelled. My wife was chilled out because she doesn’t really care about baseball, but was happy “my team was winning for once.” The calling card of any other NFL fan.
    I had mostly given up in the 6th (had Kip not scored on the wild pitch FROM SECOND in the 5th, I’d had probably checked out completely). It just felt like we were overmatched. I was one of the smart ones, however, who cued up the broadcast with Hammy’s golden voice and didn’t suffer the likes of Joe Buck. The brought in Chapman, and I remember Hammy saying something along the lines of, “Well, he’s going to provide the power, just need the right swing.” I remember the moment lasted forever, but when Hammy said “IT’S GONE,” I yelled and cheered and pumped my fists, all in the same way I did when Kyrie hit that 3. “YOU SHOULD SEE THE CELEBRATION IN THE THIRD BASE DUGOUT!” Every Tribe moment with Hammy is great, but this one was truly special because he sits through every inning of terrible mid-aught baseball and this was it, man. We did this! We have a shot at this thing! ONE MORE RUN!
    I do admit, possibly it was the feeling of being overmatched previously, but when we went 1-2-3 in the 9th with ‘Los, Kip, and Frankie, I knew in my heart it was over. The rain delay sucked, and maybe it was the momentum killer, but I felt like that bottom 9 was the dagger in our heart.

    I will never forget that moment in the 8th, though. Not for as long as I live. I hate that it wasn’t the icing on a storybook season with a WS-ringlike-cherry on the top, but man that was sports joy at its finest.

  • mgbode

    Bottom of the 9th, I thought for sure that Kipnis ball hit down the RF line was going fair. I had no doubt he was about to start the rally to win the WS. I still see that ball slicing somehow foul and wonder why.

  • architrance

    Las Vegas for work. In a bar filled with mainly Cubs fans and strangely enough a group of GSW fans who were rooting for the Tribe (or against the Cubs, not sure which). It was rough going for most of the evening, but when Davis’s blast went out I just about lost my mind and ran all the way down the bar screaming like an idiot to go high five/hug the one other Tribe fan there. I was convinced IT was happening. I thought for sure Kipnis’s foul was the game winner. The rain delay was such a buzz killer we had to take a walk outside to calm down. Momentum was obviously dead and the seemingly inevitable happened. But for a geographically neutral location, people were REALLY into that game. One of the greatest sports events I’ve ever seen.

    I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t take that loss too harshly. After all the years of heartache, I really felt like the Cavs changed everything – we won one. What more could you want? The Davis bomb seemed like one of the most important, heart pounding plays I’ve ever seen in sports and just having witnessed that made me feel better. Maybe it’s the fact a more cursed team won, the Tribe wasn’t supposed to be there with their injuries, they were clearly the lesser team & I never thought they’d have a chance in a long series, or just growing up, changing priorities, having a kid, moving away (or the fact that it was still relatively early on the west coast and I had hours to drown my sorrows) – it just didn’t seem that devastating to me. I could walk away from the experience disappointed, slightly heart broken, but generally not that upset (at least not upset like I’d been in the past with these teams). I guess time does heal all wounds. And for this team to have pushed the clearly best club in baseball all the way to the brink and just barely miss… it was just incredible. And now months later the Tribe is heading into next year with the perfect addition.

    It’s really just a great time to be alive.

  • tsm

    I was watching at home with one of my sons – the most diehard baseball fan of the 4, and my wife had given up and gone to bed. I also thought his hit was going to be off the wall, but it just cleared it. I flashed back to 95 & 97 and thought, finally we are going to win it all. My son and I had jumped off the couch and screamed, and I ran upstairs to wake up my wife who came down for the rest of the game. Right after Rajai hit it, I thought that this would be the single biggest hit in the history of the team, and that it was fitting that it was an old guy and not one of our young studs. I was convinced that we would end it in the 9th, with the ultimate walk off. Of course, if that happened, then that hit would be the greatest hit, but I was simply being emotional at that time. I expected Carlos to end it with a blast, and then was convinced Kip’s foul would start it, and then that our precocious Lindor would do something great, but it was not to be. I did realize then, that with the Cubs having their top of the order up, we likely just lost the game. As soon as Martinez hit the grounder and the Cubs 3rd baseman gloved it, I shut off the t.v. as I did not want to see nor hear any celebrations. I avoided all sports t.v. radio and the internet for a few days since the pain was too great. I had a conference in Chicago the following Wednesday, and the sights of all the signs congratulating the Cubs made me sick. During our social time at the conference, I made it a point to counter all Cubs fans talk of a fabulous comeback from 3-1 by mentioning that they were heavy favorites going into the series, and that our #2 & #3 starters were missing and the rest of the staff just ran out of gas. This did somewhat get a response that they understood reality. Still one of the most tension filled baseball games I have ever seen.

  • NankirPhelge

    “Craig and I were in the first row along the first base line.” Whoa, that’s a pretty good story in itself. How did you ever get great seats like that, and did they cost a left or a right arm?

  • NankirPhelge

    Yeah, I leapt off the couch when he hit that shot and ran to the TV because I thought for a second or two that it was out. That was one exhilarating second or two!

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    I was alone at my apartment on my couch slumped over in a haze of sadness when Raja connected with that pitch. I instantly stood up hoping to get a better look (even though I was watching on TV) and as I saw the ball clang off of those iron bars above the left field fence I let out a loud noise that can only be described as a deep yet shrill yell/scream of joy followed by me yelling “Yeeaaaaaa” and clapping a few times with such force that my hands were ringing after. I know my closets neighbors in my complex had to hear me, and probably were confused as I live in Southern California. Raja’s HR might be my favorite baseball memory

  • Eric G

    Agree on all points in second paragraph

  • humboldt

    I thought it was gone and my heart skipped a beat. A momentary rush of total rapture that quickly subsided. Sigh…

  • Saggy

    I have a very similar story. We had a 4 month old at the time and I was in a bad/tired mood after the 7th inning, so my wife and I decided to work on kid #4. Then I turned on the tv and saw the score was tied and thought for a moment I was watching a replay of another game. So i rewinded it and got caught up.

  • Saggy

    totally agree. Once the Cavs won it, the Tribe didn’t hurt so bad. I also think that since the Tribe really wasn’t even supposed to be there, it was pretty much all gravy, so it didn’t hurt as bad.

  • Saggy

    Michael – nice point on Guyer playing the Bernie Carbo role.

  • tigersbrowns2

    mine : June 2014 against the the Oakland A’s at Comerica Park … bottom of the 9th , bases loaded … Davis hits a walk-off grand slam against Sean Doolitlle … Tigers win !

  • tigersbrowns2

    yes , i was happy for Rajai & the Indians fans when he hit it … I’ll always root for the guy.

  • Chris
  • tigersbrowns2

    good post ARCH.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi FBF … are you truly a FORMER Browns fan ??

  • formerbrownsfan

    I’d like to think so. But truthfully, it’s very hard to stop caring.

  • tigersbrowns2

    that’s what i thought … once a Browns fan , always a Browns fan … hang in there , better days ahead.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … we are brothers from different mothers.

  • JNeids

    I did the same. I was halfway to the front door before I realized it was foul.

  • Jaker

    was at home in Jersey, watching with a few of my housemates. I’m the only Tribe fan, and even though they wouldn’t admit it to me, everyone else was pulling for Chicago. two guys left, and another two went to bed, so it was just my best bud Bill and I up for the end of the game. I get teased a lot for being all Cleveland sports even though I’ve lived my whole life at the Jersey Shore (dad is from Youngstown, I’ve been all Browns-Indians-Cavs-Buckeyes since birth while my Yankee fan friends let me hear it constantly).

    When Rajai swung I knew immediately. Being a big guy I nearly knocked over the couch I was on as I couldn’t even control the movements my body was making…. Even though we ended up losing, in that moment, I couldn’t be happier

  • Erik Drost

    I was on the Home Run Porch for the game. I was shifting between the first and second row along the railing during the game as Cubs fans packed in to my left of me and Indians fan to the right. The Cubs fans were starting to celebrate, calling their friends, talking about finally winning. One of them a few spots to my left was taking a selfie video as the outs counted down. Like the rest of us I was hanging in there hoping we could get one more rally going. Thinking maybe with as hard as Chapman was throwing, we could get hit one out. As Rajai hit the ball, it was hard to get a read on the it since it was coming right in our direction. As it sliced left, I followed the ball and it just kept staying up. The ball landed less than 15 ft. away, clanging off the camera. The Cubs fans to the left were in stunned in silence. Us Indians fans in the area were stunned too, but quickly started going crazy celebrating this improbable comeback. The possibility of pulling this out went from desperate hope to reality. Sadly we know how things turned, but it was still an amazing moment.