Friday, June 8, 2012

Flashback Friday: The Upside Down Canadian Flag

By
O Canada. Our home and native land. And apparently, it's also the home of the upside down maple leaf?

Depending on who you talk to, it was either a great disrespect or a simple mistake. Regardless of your stance, it still stands as one of the most memorable moments of the 1992 World Series.

For this Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the upside down Canadian flag from the 1992 World Series.

The date was October 18th 1992; the series remained in Atlanta going into Game 2 against the Braves, as they took the opener 3-1 on the back of a complete game four-hitter by Tom Glavine.

Spirits weren't exactly flying high for Toronto going into Game 2 at Turner Field, and their home flag wasn't flying properly either. Due to a bit of miscommunication, the Canadian flag was flown upside down.

During the signing of the national anthems, the U.S. Marine Corps flew both the U.S. and Canadian Flags, but due to a bit of a gaffe by the flag holder, the Canadian maple leaf was upside down.

Just to add insult to injury, Tom Cochrane stumbled through signing the Canadian national anthem as he messed up a few lines. All in all, not a good night for Canada.

The explanation of the upside down flag was that the Marine Corps only had the standard issue American and Marine Corps flags prepared to fly, and that the Canadian flag was provided by stadium officials mere moments before the marines were to go on the field.

Interestingly enough, an upside down flag is an international sign of distress, but it didn't seem to affect the Blue Jays as they won Game 2 of the World Series 5-4.

Image courtesy of Toronto Star Archives (hat tip to @Minor_Leaguer)
Just as this post proves, fans never forget mistakes like that. As the series turned to Toronto, vendors took to the streets selling t-shirts with upside down American flags.

In fact, it seemed as though it was an international concern as even George Bush had to do a bit of damage control. He assured Canadians that the United States would never do anything to hurt the national Flag of Canada.

Bush Sr. issued two official apologies, and as a sign of goodwill, a New York Marine unit paraded a Canadian flag into the Skydome, as the Royal Mounted Canadian Police carried in the American Flag.

Just to make sure that the Canadian flag was flow right side up for Game 3 of the World Series, baseball deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg received a fax of the Canadian flag with the word "TOP" across the top of the page.

These days, it's not uncommon for US television networks to skip the singing of the Canadian national anthem and go to commercial break. I think that's much more of a disservice to Canadians than a simple mistake like flying the flag upside down.

It may have been an honest mistake, but the upside down Canadian flag is one thing I'll always remember about the Blue Jays playing in Atlanta. And oh yeah ... winning a World Series.

5 comments:

  1. Oh I remember that moment so clearly. I was 16, and convinced that the Armericans did it on puprose, just to show up us Canadians. (Now years later I realize that is ridiculous...I think).
    I wanted so bad for us to fly their flag upside down at the next game at SkyDome in retaliation. However, when the time came, and they marched the flags out properly, I was more proud of them for taking the high road and not taking a cheap shot back at the Americans.

    To a young impressionable Canadian baseball fan, I learned a lot from that moment.
    And of course, winning the world series helps to soften the percieved insult!

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    1. And I believe it was Anne Murray who sang the Canadian National Anthem at Game 3 - I can't think of anybody better to do it!

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  2. Actually looking closely at the picture now, protocol would have been broken even if the Canadian flag was flown right side up. You can see that the American flag has a gold fringe on it--that is called a "dress flag." International protocols generally state that the Marines should have flown the Canadian dress flag as well, and if they did not have one, they should have flown the un-fringed American flag.

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    Replies
    1. Good eye! I had no idea what was the protocol with flags. So I guess they really did get the Canadian flag from the stadium officials last minute!

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