Tom Cheeks immortal words following Joe Carter’s world series winning walk-off home run in the 9th inning off of a 2-2 slider thrown by Mitch ‘Wild Thing’ Williams are what really got my love affair with baseball going. It’s really hard not to fall in love with a team and a sport after witnessing magic like that. I had followed the Blue Jays the previous season when they had made history; becoming the first team outside of the US to win a world series title. A Canadian team had succeeded and won at America’s past time. As happy as I was for the Blue Jays, I still wasn’t in love with the game. Living in Canada hockey was still the dominant sport. Hockey Night in Canada meant more to me than Labatts Saturday Blue Jays baseball. Even though I was playing baseball.. err.. teeball I was still that kid who accidentily ran to 3rd instead of 1st when I got my first hit and I still had a strong tendency to prowl the OF and clean-up all the dandilions. *Hangs head in disgust. As you can see, baseball was not my top priority. How could it be? It still had to contend with the WWF, Nintendo, Lego, TMNT (look it up if you dont know) and the aforementioned hockey. Even though ’92 would be the year that I went to my first real baseball games at the Skydome, I still could care less about the onfield talent… I was way more preoccupied with the potential of candy, popcorn. and the McDonalds that the year old Skydome had to offer.
Enter 1993, the same year that featured the infamous Kerry Fraser missed call on Wayne Gretzky’s highstick of Doug Gilmour in turn ending their playoff run that would have seen them meet the Canadians in the Stanley Cup Final… the last time the Leafs/Habs could do so.. and thus shattering my 7 year old heart, two things happened that help propel me into the absolute baseball fanatic that I now am. 1) Joe Carter became an ABSOLUTE legend in the 416, Canada and the history of the MLB by smashing a hanging slider into the LF Bullpen. 2) The Sandlot came out. These are 2 Everest moments when it comes to breaking down what has made me who I am.
I fell out of love with baseball sometime in the late 90’s. Yes, even the great PED HR chase of 1998 didn’t sucker me back. Some of it had to do with the Jays selling off key parts of their championship teams and thus losing my childhood heroes (Robbie, Devo and Joe). Most of it had to do with me. I wasn’t playing baseball anymore, having realized that softball sucked in comparison to hardball. Most of my friends didnt like baseball that much and were hockey crazed anyway. After school, it was easier to get a handful of guys together and set up a 2 on 2 game in someones driveway than it was to get 12+ guys together and play a game of sandlot ball… well that and the winter really hinders good ball games.
Thankfully in high school, a good friend of mine helped reacquaint me with my love for baseball. A love that has yet to die this time around. It’s hard to list and explain why I love baseball so much. Im sure a list of reasons will be created someday… but even then… it will be a list that is never ending. I started this to just be able to put pen to paper (so to speak) and ramble about baseball.. or sports in general. As much as I would love for this to take off and become a career… for now its just a place to come and share a common love and appreciation for an amazing game.