Nearly 20 years after the Toronto Blue Jays' back-to-back World Series championships, Joe Carter still makes regular trips to his "second home."
Carter is back in Toronto this week for his annual golf Joe Carter after hitting the World Series-winning home run in 1993. (Getty(tournament at Eagles Nest Golf Club, just north of the city. Now in its third year, the Joe Carter Classic pairs together regular golfers and celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment to raise money for the Children's Aid Foundation. This year, the event has already raised $500,000.
"I've always cared about, and worked with, kids," Carter said. "During my playing days I did work for cystic fibrosis and children's hospitals. I'm basically a big kid myself, so it's great."
The event sold out months ago, and in just 48 hours. It's not hard to see why with a list of celebrities that includes Charles Barkley, Ray Bourque, Julius Ervin, Gordie Howe, Doug Gilmour, Kelly Gruber — and Charlie Sheen. The controversial actor took batting practice with Carter at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday before the Blue Jays played the White Sox, and may arrive at the course by helicopter on Wednesday morning.
[Joe Carter Classic: Click here to watch the event and chat with celebrities]
Also in attendance will be Mitch Williams. The same Mitch Williams who surrendered Carter's game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. It's still only the second World Series to end on a walk-off home run. The other, Bill Mazeroski's winner for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the New York Yankees, occurred in 1960, the year Carter was born.
As if you needed a reminder:
Carter and Williams will be making their first appearance in Canada together since that '93 World Series. They talk occasionally and have become unlikely friends. In 1998, Carter and Williams faced off in a celebrity bowling match at a bowling alley owned by Williams.
"I kicked his butt," Carter said with a laugh as he stood on the tee block on sixth hole at Eagles Nest.
Almost 19 years after that home run off Williams, Carter's hero status in Toronto remains as in tact as ever (though maybe it's not surprising given the lack of sports success in Toronto since). He happily posed for photographs and signed memorabilia in the parking lot before Tuesday's practice round, always with a smile and always seemingly knowing or remembering everyone's name.
Carter knows his way around the golf course, too. After a 16-year big-league career, he retired from baseball in 1998. He's been retired from baseball for 14 years and spends most of his time on the course. He does a golf trip to Augusta, Ga., the home of the Masters, every year with Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and other friends.
Without a nine-to-five type job to keep him busy, Carter spends his time honing his skills on the golf course. "That's why I played baseball, so I wouldn't have to have a real job," he said.
He takes it seriously, and he's good, too. He has all the top tools of the trade including a GPS rangefinder. Still, it's not been good enough to win his own tournament yet.
"Maybe one of these years the guys will let me win my tournament," he said. "But it's tough, it's competitive. When you get guys like [former professional baseball and football player] Bo Jackson and [former NFL offensive lineman] Jonathan Ogden out here, they take it seriously, things get competitive."
The Joe Carter Classic takes place Wednesday morning with the scramble-style tournament, silent auctions and a party in the evening.