Picture it: Toronto, 2017. It was Wednesday, April 5 at 9:47AM when I hit ‘send’ on my phone.
“Good morning Mr. Carter,” my message began. “…this is bananas for me to do, but when one of your heroes is following you on social media, you have to get a little crazy.”
You see, late last year, Joe Carter – yes, THAT Joe Carter – followed me back on Twitter. I don’t know why. I don’t question the actions of the few celebrity accounts who follow me, I simply check their profiles several times a day to see if the last thing I RT’d smartened them up. Somehow, despite my nonsense, Joseph Christopher Carter has continued to follow me. B-A-N-A-N-A-S, I say!
In my message I included the link to my inaugural ‘Black Girl • Blue Jays’ post, explained what I hoped to accomplish with this pet project of a blog, and asked if he’d be down to answer a few questions to help me kick-off the brand-new MLB season with a bang. Then, I sent it. I SENT IT TO JOE CARTER!
At 1:25PM of that very same Wednesday, my life changed forever:
“Hello Arianne. I would be more than happy to help you out.
You can just DM the questions to me and I will answer them.”
“SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…” has been coming out of my throat ever since. Joe Carter typed letters in an order that spelled my first name and HE WAS ‘MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP’ ME OUT!
I had a couple wee cries in my office’s washroom, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of
my life the day. I travelled home in a daze. Joe, Joe Carter, ‘Touch ’em all’ Joe, is sitting on the other side of the internet and is more than willing to help me out. I would take full advantage of this small window of time.
The clock struck 1:31AM, technically the morning of Thursday, April 6, and I hit ‘send’ one last time. My questions were with him now. I waited and worried and wondered if I’d imagined it.
Guys. I didn’t imagine a damn thing.
So without further adieu, I present to you my Q&A session with the 2x Silver Sluggin’, 5x All-Starrin’, back-to-back Toronto Blue Jays World Series winnin’, Mr. Joe Carter.
Me: As the subject of baseball folklore, are you truly aware of how iconic you are and will always be in Toronto sports?
Joe: I am definitely aware of the way I am viewed in Toronto. Every time I’m back in town the great fans always remind me of the love they have for me, and I am always letting them know how much love I have for them and how much I appreciate them.
Me: Hypothetical one for you: If you got the right pitch today, could you still hit a bomb out of a ballpark? I need to know!
Joe: Yea most definitely I could still hit it out of the ballpark now. The only problem I would have is getting around the bases if it didn’t go out of the ballpark.
Me: I subconsciously draw parallels from the current Blue Jays’ roster with previous years. For example: Tools (Troy Tulowitzki) is my present-day John Olerud. If you were to draw parallels from a couple of your former Jays’ teammates to our guys now, who would they be? (Parallels in personality or performance from what you’ve seen or experienced – totally your choice)
Joe: I look at Pillar and compare him to Roberto Alomar. Defensively they both have a flair for making the impossible possible. Joey Bats and myself would be a good comparison. He’s the big rbi and home run guy in the lineup just as my job was.
Me: Who made up your “squad” (your group of teammates/friends) during your time in Toronto? Were some of the guys like brothers to you and do you remain friends today?
Joe: The great things about playing on a team that is really good is that we all got along very well with each other. To be a good teammate you involve every one and that’s what we did. For me I still stay in contact with Devon White, Robbie Alomar.
Me: Deeper question here: did you deal with any prejudices or discrimination as a black man in the game? You obviously weren’t the only one in the game but as a sports fan, especially in the age of social media, I’ve seen firsthand how “fans” will turn on a not-so-great performance of a hometown player or a dominating player from a visiting team, and more-so when they’re a POC. Did that ever register for you while you were playing? If so, how did you stay the course and keep your focus?
Joe: As a black man in the game of baseball, I never experienced prejudices in the game. In Cleveland my last year in 1989 the fans resented me leaving via trade and I was booed heavily everytime I went back there. But all the booing really made me stronger and I used it as motivation to do even more.
Me: Toronto is constantly changing yet so much of it stays the same. What was poppin’ when you guys lived in the city? Where were the hot spots? I’m curious to see if any of them still exist.
Joe: 25 years ago Caribana was the big day in Toronto and today it is still big. The biggest difference I notice is all the new real estate downtown that has made Toronto one of the biggest and best cities around. Loved going to Marché Mövenpick restaurant – was a big hangout for the teams and I still frequent there when I’m in town.
Me: Which teams in the MLB have your attention this season?
Joe: I currently work* for Arizona DBacks and my attention is always on them. But I will always keep an eye on Toronto and see how they are doing.
Me: The Joe Carter Classic has been raising money for the Children’s Aid Foundation since 2010, are there any other organizations you work with or events you’re participating in that you’d like to mention?
Joe: I love my golf tournament and what it has become here in Toronto and how much it has helped The Children’s Aid Foundation. I have always been involved with kids and giving back to the community. We have the ability to help those who are in need and I will always continue to be a giver. To much is given much is expected.
- Jerseys: White
- Stadium Snacks: Popcorn
- Proper Name:
Rogers Centre orSkyDome for sure
- Favourite Track from Drake’s “More Life” Playlist: Passionfruit
And that’s it, friends. Short and sweet and real and mine. I reside somewhere in the clouds now. The honour I feel inside will remain unmatched until the end of my days. I will keep this photo FOREVER. Put it on m’tombstone, yo! ❤
One last thing for those of you who have never seen one of the most magical pieces of championship footage: PLEASE watch his walk-off 3-run home run that solidified the Blue Jays as repeat World Series champs. The voice you hear is Tom Cheek; I’ve watched this a milli times and never not cry. Best, best, best.
*Joe Carter is currently the Special Assistant to General Manager Dave Stewart, of the Arizona Diamondbacks. As of April 10, 2017, the Dbacks are leading the National League West 6-2.