Joe’s annual homecoming
Blue Jays great Joe Carter returns to our city every year for his celebrity golf fundraiser raising millions for Children’s Aid
Joe Carter’s charity tournament brings sports celebrities from across North America to Toronto
This baseball season will mark the 25th anniversary of Joltin’ Joe Carter’s home run that won the Toronto Blue Jays the World Series. Although he no longer lives in Toronto, Carter makes a point of trekking north often, especially this month, when he hosts the annual Joe Carter Classic golf tourney on June 21.
What do you enjoy most about hosting the Joe Carter Classic each year?
Just talking to the recipients from the Children’s Aid Foundation, the kids who have received these scholarships, that has always been a highlight. Seeing these big-time athletes coming together and giving these kids, 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, getting a chance to further their education, and you hear their stories and talk to them. That moment you give these kids hope and you realize what they’ve been through, that is by far the biggest reason I have for doing it.
How has the tourney evolved?
It started out as this small venture from the very first time we had it nine years ago to becoming one of the marquee tournaments in all of North America. I’ve been to a lot of the celebrity golf tournaments, and it is right there at the top. Anywhere I go throughout the country, people are talking about the Joe Carter Classic.
Is there anything else left to say about that memorable home run to win the World Series?
There’s nothing left because it is just that big a moment. Like I say, every time I go to Toronto and I’m speaking, I tell the people I’ve been milking this home run now for 25 years. It’s great that something like that happened, and for it to happen to me was definitely a blessing from the good Lord above and a blessing for Toronto. It is etched forever in the history of the baseball laurels.
I bet you remember every moment of that historic hit.
Yeah, my wife tells me I’ve forgotten a lot of things, but I’ll never forget that. It is a big moment, but also I’ve talked about it so many times. It’s that big a moment to think, in the history of the game, over 140 years, it’s only happened twice in the history of the game. That’s special.
What do you miss most about baseball?
It’s the camaraderie of the players. Jumping on the plane, going from city to city, in that dugout, in the clubhouse. Those are the things that you miss the most. Funny, we had this 15-year reunion of the back-to-back wins, and I think almost every player returned. And as soon as we had the golf tournament, everybody got on the bus, and you know what? It was like, everybody sat in the same seat from when we were playing: “Oh no, don’t sit there, that’s Joe’s seat, that’s Jimmy Key’s seat, Duane Ward sits in the back, Winfield sits there.” Baseball is a great sport because you get a chance to spend a lot of time together and get to know a lot about each other. That, to me, that’s family.
Have you been keeping up with the Jays this season?
Yes, I have. It’s always the same. Boston gets a great start, then they get surpassed by the Yankees, who go 17 to one, and the Jays are having a great year sitting right behind those guys. There are three of the best teams in baseball sitting in the same division, so something has to give.
Where was your favourite place to play?
Well, you know, your adrenaline gets pumping when you go in to Yankee Stadium or into Fenway Park when Roger Clemens was on the mound. And you’re thinking, “OK, this is going to be good,” because Fenway was one of my favourite parks to hit in, and you’ve got one of the best pitchers ever, so you knew it was going to be a blast. I enjoyed those slug fests.
Any pitchers that you really played well against?
I used to love Bill Wegman. He hates hearing that. I hit him pretty well my whole career. I remember one of the last times I played him — my first at bat I hit a double off the wall. And he just yells at me, “Why don’t you just retire, I’m sick of you.”