Joe Carter almost signed with KC at 1992 winter meetings

By Bob Elliott

The two golf carts pulled up to the caddy shack outside the Orlando golf course Dec. 5, 1990.

Bill Murray wasn’t there to great the golfers, but in a scene out of the movie Caddy Shack it unfolded like this: 

“Did you guy hear about the big trade?” asked the caddy unloading the first golf bag. 

Scott Sanderson, a free-agent right-hander and Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jay Bell asked who was involved as the caddy talked news dominating ESPN. This was in pre-inter net and Twitter days. 

“Who was in it?” Joe Carter asked the lifting the bag.

The caddy read the name tag on the bag and said: “Ah ... I don’t think I should be the one to tell you, but it was YOU!’’ 

A year to the day after he was dealt from the Cleveland Indians to San Diego for Sandy Alomar, Sandy’s younger brother, Robbie would be dealt with Carter to the Blue Jays for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff.

Carter came to Toronto stayed for almost seven seasons playing 1,016 games, hitting 203 homers and knocking in 736 runs (six seasons reaching three figures). 

The reason Carter is being honored with the Ferguson Jenkins Heritage award by the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame is not for anything he did during the regular season.

Long ago in another century, in a building known as the SkyDome, the Blue Jays headed into the bottom of the ninth down 6-5 in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.

Rickey Henderson worked a four-pitch walk from Mitch Williams and danced off first. An out later Paul Molitor lined singled to centre on a 1-1 pitch. Now, the tying run was at second and the Jays had their clean-up man stepping to the plate.

Carter swung at a 2-2 pitch and was badly fooled. Still worried, about Henderson, Williams, threw the next pitch -- his 21st pitch of the inning -- Mighty Joe swung and the ball landed in the Jays bullpen, shy of the auxiliary press box for a three-run, walk-off, jump-off homer.

Carter, the former high school quarterback from Wichita, leapt for joy on his way to first and actually missed first before coach Bob Bailor told him to retreat. And up above on the 300 Level and throughout living rooms from Revelstoke, B.C. to Sumerside, PEI fans heard the legendary Tom Cheek say:

“A swing and a belt! Left field ... way back ... BLUE JAYS WIN IT! The Blue Jays are World Series Champions as Joe Carter hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning and the Blue Jays have repeated as World Series Champions!” Cheek said both as an announcer and a coach, “Touch ‘em all, Joe! 

“You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”

Drafted second over-all by the Chicago Cubs in 1981 from the Wichita State University Shockers, Carter played 23 games with the Cubs, was dealt to Cleveland, traded to San Diego and the Caddy Shack told him he was headed to another team in another country.

His homer landed at 11:37 PM and the replay was shown on the Jumbotron four or five dozen times. Yonge Street was jammed with a parade of honking cars until 5 AM.

Walking downstairs with our Steve Buffery I asked if he could have seen anything that exciting at a hockey game.

He replied overtime.

You can’t come from behind to win in overtime.

So, 10 things you might not have known about Jumpin’ Joe Carter as he 

_ Had his first base hit in the majors off Steve Carlton in the second inning Aug. 1, 1983 during in Jody Davis in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Veteran’s Stadium. No less than five future Hall of Famers appeared in the game -- Ryne Sandberg and Fergie Jenkins with the Cubs, Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt and Carlton with the Phillies.

_ Hit his 100th homer June 3, 1988 off Walt Terrell as the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 at Tiger Stadium.

_ Singled in the first inning off Roger Clemens, opening night 1991 in his first game as a Jays in a 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. 
      
_ Hit his 200th homer off Joe Hesketh in a 12-7 loss to the Red Sox on Aug. 9, 1991. 

_ Was playing first during the 1992 World Series in Atlanta. Without a DH, John Olerud was on the bench while DH Dave Winfield was in right with the Jays three outs from winning their first Series with a 4-2 lead in the 11th. Jeff Blauser singled, after an error, the runners were bunted over and Brian Hunter bounced to Carter to score Blauser. Now, pinch runner John Smoltz stood at third. Two out. Out came Cito Gaston. Jimmy Key told him he had not had much luck with Otis Nixon. On the radio Skip Caray said “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Otis drop one down here.” Nixon did against Mike Timlin, who fielded the bunt and fired to Carter, who began jumping towards the mound.  

_ Was in demand at the 1992 winter meetings in Louisville. Both the Kansas City Royals and the Jays had interest. Jim Turner, Carter’s agent, had the shown Pat Gillick, Carter’s prepared thank you to Jays fans. It was that close. Both were offering similar cash ($25 million), but the Royals offer contained a no-trade clause and a $10 million payout up front. Carter said seeing Devon White in a dream helped him decide on the Jays.

_ Went deep off Williams to send the Jays into champagne celebrations. That night his brother Larry Carter was in Salem, Oregon, playing in a slo-pitch tournament. Larry reached a tavern to watch the final four innings on TV. Later, driving his ‘90 Jeep Cherokee home, a clip of the homer was the lead item in the radio. Larry pulled over ... “it hit me, what Joe had accomplished, first to win a Series with a homer when his team was losing, finally he was going to get the recognition he deserved,” said Larry, who parked and started jumping up and down on the hood of his Cherokee.
Bill Mazeroski had won the 1960 World Series with a lead-off homer against the Yankees, but the score was tied entering the ninth.

_ Hit his 300th homer Aug. 1, 1994, in a 6-2 win at Fenway Park.

_ Was standing in left during batting practice in spring training of April 1995 when someone called him from foul ground, told him to go inside the clubhouse, look at CNN and call home. 
The federal building in Oklahoma City where he grew up, where his parents and relatives live, had been bombed. 
“Why bomb Oklahoma City, there’s nothing there?” Carter asked.

_ Signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent in 1998 and that July was dealt to the San Francisco Giants. At the time Carter was using a maple bat given to him by Sam Holman, the Ottawa bat maker. Carter took his Sambat model with him to the Giants clubhouse, Barry Bonds gave it a try, fell in love with the bat and used it to set the single-season home run record in 2001.