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Remembering Joe Carter and the 1993 Blue Jays

30 July 2009

Joe Carter, a star outfielder for several teams in the 80s and 90s and the man who hit one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, is now a prolific member of Twitter society. (Follow him @JoeCarter_29)

Joe is also serving as an active recruiter for a big 1992-1993 back-to-back World Series reunion, slated for next weekend (Aug 7-9) in Toronto. Among the other former players participating in one way or another are: Robbie Alomar, Paul Molitor, David Cone, Alfredo Griffin, Kelly Gruber, Mark Eichhorn, Tony Fernandez, Rance Mulliniks, John Olerud and Duane Ward. As part of the festivities, Joe solicited his Twitter followers to send him their favorite memories from those 1992 and 1993 World Series-winning teams.

How could I resist? After all, not only did Carter’s World Series-winning homer off Mitch Williams in Game 6 of the 1993 Series lead to the best decision I’ve ever made (more on that in a second), Joe was also the foil (really, the main character) for my chapter on RBI in “Baseball Between the Numbers”. Few non-Expos players have ever resonated more with me.

So here you go, Joe.

October 1993. I’m in my first year at Concordia University in Montreal. I’ve become good buddies with Jon, a pre-med student at McGill. Aside from being a generally fun guy, Jon has a great little pad right in the McGill ghetto, which allows for maximum party n’ crash possibilities. Jon is a Toronto native who’s a fierce Jays fan, and he’s got lots of friends at McGill who come from the same Toronto high school, and are also backing the Jays.

Jon’s buddy Mark has a tougher predicament, though. Mark is attending Haverford College, in suburban Philadelphia. This is a problem, because the Jays are playing the Phillies in the World Series, so Mark can’t proudly don his trademark toque and giant Canadian flag and swig Labatt’s like he wishes he could. Since Mark and Jon’s buddies have all gone to McGill for college, Mark calls Jon, asks if he can come up to Montreal, crash at his place, and watch Game 6 of the World Series with him and the rest of the crew at Gerts, the McGill campus pub. Jon says sure. He then calls me, asks if I’d like to come down and watch the game with them. OK, twist my arm.

That night at Gerts was Buck-A-Blue night, one loonie per Labatt’s Blue, in honor of the Jays playing in the World Series. Though I’m a die-hard Expos fan, I’m still going to support the Canadian team in the World Series. Also, I like beer. Also, I’m broke. A buck a Blue sounds pretty sweet. Despite my penniless state, I scrape up enough dough to buy the first round. Mark, being no different than any other Canadian, is smitten by the gesture, because who can resist free Labatt’s? (even discounted from a buck)

One beer leads to two, then three, then…djghkljhq. A lot of ‘em, let’s just say.

Then we get to the 9th inning. Gerts is packed, many Torontonians, many baseball fans, many more people who are just enjoying a tremendous buzz. Up to the plate steps Joe Carter, with a chance to win the game. He swings and….AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The crowd at Gerts runs out into the streets. We’re all singing O Canada at the top of our lungs. Mark and I jump on a van at one point and lead the drunken proceedings. Madness.

The next day, Mark heads back down to Philly. But we’ve established a strong bond. You don’t buy someone the first beer of a crazy night, end it by jumping on vans and singing a national anthem, then never see the guy again. So when Jon invites me a few months later to go visit Mark at Haverford for Spring Break, I jump at the chance.

Turned out to be a great week. Haverford has a great campus and dorm life is surprisingly fun for a school that takes itself pretty seriously on the academic side. I met a lot of great folks that week. But one person in particular caught my eye — a girl who lived right across the hall from Mark. We hit it off pretty quickly, enjoyed a few fun days together, then figured we’d give a long-distance relationship a shot.

That was 15 1/2 years ago. We’re still together, married almost 12 years, with twins (!) on the way.

So, thanks Joe. Because of you, I’m the happiest guy in the world.

(And Joe, if you’re up for an interview for this site, in which I’d be happy to promote next weekend’s reunion at Rogers Centre – email me at jonahkeri@gmail.com. Would love to talk.)

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