Joe Carter almost became my favorite baseball player. It was 1993 and he hit a walk-off home run to win the World Series. I was 6 years old and although I didn’t see that game on TV, I was an avid reader of the sports page in the newspaper. It was actually relevant back then before the Internet, 24 hour ESPN channels, and social media updates.
Playing t-ball, my team name was the Blue Jays. Naturally, I followed the Major League Blue Jays since that is who I felt like I was playing for. Granted I wasn’t in Toronto and probably didn’t even know where it was at, the Jays were my favorite team for a short period of my life and their best hitter was my favorite player.
I didn’t know much about professional baseball at such a young age, but I knew enough about how important the World Series was and saw how much coverage Joe Carter received because of his heroic efforts. For many kids, they are fair weather fans in sports terms and I was no different. At the same time, I had a somewhat personal connection since my jersey had the same logo as the World Series champs.
Carter wasn’t a lifelong Blue Jay, as he started his career in Cleveland and ended up playing for San Diego, Baltimore, and San Francisco as well. I never knew this until later and didn’t need to know. Carter was to me a Blue Jay and always will be a Blue Jay. He happened to join the team in 1991, a year before Toronto won its first of back-to-back World Series championships.
At such a young age, baseball was completely a game in my mind. It was about playing and having fun, and nobody looked like they were having more fun than when Carter was jumping up and down rounding the bases after his walk-off home run. That was the epitome of baseball at its finest and the only image I wanted or needed to see. I don’t know if I would have been such a fan of another player had it been someone else that won the World Series, but Carter was such an established player to begin with that I had his baseball cards, saw him on TV and in the papers, and took a strong liking to his image.
There isn’t a plaque in Cooperstown with Joe Carter’s face on it, but there is a place for him in my personal Hall of Fame. Fans take a liking to certain players for certain reasons, and I’m sure there are other people my age who were Joe Carter fans for the same reason I was; maybe not because they played on a t-ball team called the Blue Jays but because of his World Series performance. It’s one of those things that is ingrained into a child’s memory and is never forgotten. Joe Carter is and always will be my favorite Blue Jay.