Rajai Davis’s game seven home run was the greatest sports moment I’ve ever seen live.
I’m not a huge basketball fan or else I might count the Cavaliers clinching their own championship last June. But for me, a baseball fan who watches a lot of other sports but doesn’t get invested in anything quite like baseball, nothing will ever top Rajai choking up on the bat and crushing a game-tying home run in the eighth-inning of the World Series.
I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel that way immediately after the game. I wasn’t even sure I’d feel that way a week after, either, but for a different reason. Would the pure joy of that moment fade after a while? Would Rajai’s home run sink into the rest of the World Series that I have mostly blocked out of my memory? So far, it doesn’t seem like it. I can still recall every moment of the at-bat in my head; it’s a mixture of the emotional impact of the event leaving such an impression, and the fact that I’ve watched the video dozens of times already. And every time I replay it, I feel those same feelings.
See for yourself if you haven’t watched it in a while.
One of my favorite views of the home run comes from Cleveland.com, which posted this candid video of it happening from the press box. The number one rule of being in a press box is you’re not allowed to cheer, and you can see how hard some reporters are fighting the urge to do so. Not to mention the tremendous roar of the crowd after they can tell the game is officially tied.
Today was Rajai Davis’s first trip to Progressive Field since that November day, and the Cleveland Indians had a full ceremony, complete with scoreboard dedication video, before they presented the now-Oakland Athletic outfielder with his American League Championship ring. The video wasn’t just focused on the home run, of course. Rajai contributed a lot in the way of outfield defense and being one of the best baserunners in all of baseball.
I’ve watched the home run a lot since the World Series ended, but that’s all I want to remember about it. And that’s probably all I will remember about it in a few years, hopefully when there is more to celebrate, but it’s hard not to get at least a little emotional watching it now. I can still see my wife coming down the stairs, after she had gone to bed thinking it was over, asking “what the hell just happened?” before sitting down to suffer with me. Everything after that is more sadness, but that one singular moment was the highest high I’ve ever felt watching baseball — or anything, for that matter. Today’s tribute to Rajai Davis makes me happy knowing that the Indians, and its fans, have not forgotten the contribution he made.
Maybe you don’t feel the same way. Maybe you choose to ignore the one big swing that Rajai contributed and you look at his regular season numbers, the “sun game,” and the fact that he was an overall below-average player during his time in Cleveland. No matter your feelings on Rajai, I guarantee the vision of him rounding first, tongue out, smiling, fist in the air, will always pop into your head when you think about you favorite Indians memories.
To me, that’s enough to warrant all the recognition he received from the Indians and Indians fans today.