By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
I saw Joe Carter talking on television at the recent reunion of the 1992-93 Blue Jays at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto.
I saw him quoted in newspapers about those World Series championships. He has dined out on his famous home run at 11:39 p.m. at the SkyDome on Oct. 23, 1993. Rightfully so.
But there is so much more to Carter than that famous date.
I thought last week and I've thought many times for a number of years that Carter is Hall of Fame material for Cooperstown, especially after Baseball Writers Association of America members dismissed him outright in his first time on the ballot in 2003. So ridiculous. A travesty.
Carter was off the ballot for 2004 because he collected only 19 votes or only 3.8 per cent of the vote. What a shame. So last week, I said to myself, "I should write a story to that effect.''
I didn't at the time. No excuse. It would not have been a scoop per-se but just a few days later, the Hall of Fame's Today's Game Era committee inserted Carter's name on the ballot. Nice.
So here I am now writing that story, supporting Carter for a plaque on Main St. in Cooperstown. Last week as I pondered writing this story, I punched in his stats at Baseball Reference and I was impressed. I had forgotten how truly great he was. OK, so he had flaws defensively but offensively, those stats, "they shone like the diamonds'', as the Irish Rovers said in their song.
Those stats told me I should write a story. He collected 432 doubles, 396 homers and 1,445 RBI. What was truly amazing about Carter's career was his enduring record of 10 seasons of at least 100 RBI. Then it was almost 11 seasons, if you look at his 98 RBI in the strike-shortened season of 1994.
Carter's legacy includes an iron man streak. Four, full seasons of 162 games played. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee from 2003 didn't beg out of the lineup. He wanted to be in the lineup. He never complained about injuries.
Here's his games-played portfolio during the height of his success. It's not all through consecutive seasons but look it up: 143, 162, 149, 157, 162, 162, 162, 158, 155, 139, 157, 157. Yes, three consecutive seasons where he played every single game.
Then you say, how many times has anyone hit a walk-off homer to end a World Series? Twice. Bill Mazeroski was the first in 1960 when the Pirates second baseman belted one out to beat the Yankees. Then came Carter with his 1993 blast against Mitch Williams.
Under pressure in the bottom of the ninth inning against Mitch Williams, he delivered. You know where you were on the date like you know where you were on Nov. 22, 1963, Sept. 28, 1972 and Oct. 19, 1981.
In Carter's corner on the Today's Game Era committee is an old friend: veteran Toronto scribe Bob Elliott, who most assuredly pushed heavily for Carter's inclusion on the ballot because he is a member of the Today's Game Era committee.
We'll find out next month how he makes out when the voting results are revealed at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.
Carter was very gracious in talking with me about that famous homer in 1993 for my book released 18 years ago called Baseball in the 20th Century.
Here's my thumbs up to Carter. You touched all those bases back in October of 1993, Joe. Here's hoping you get to Cooperstown some time soon.
Danny Gallagher is doing a book signing for his just-released Blue Monday at the 180 Pub on Hunter St. in Peterborough, Ont. Nov. 10, beginning at 2:30 p.m. You can also meet him at Chapters in Peterborough Nov. 9 at noon.