Welcome to the refreshed Bluebird Banter! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favourite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts [link here] to begin. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] Come Fan With Us!
In sitting here in front of my laptop trying to recall just what it was that went through a seven-year old me’s mind that made him choose to become a Toronto Blue Jays fan, I find myself recalling my favourite childhood sports movies.
Little Big League (1994), Rookie of the Year (1993), Angels in the Outfield (1994), to name only a few.
In them, the main character has some kind of deep rooted reason for becoming a fan of the team in the movie.
Whether it be his deadbeat father who promised to return if a bad team won the pennant. Maybe it was his childhood home team and his father, whom he’d never met, was a great baseball. Perhaps his dear old grandfather owned the team and he’d spent his younger years in the clubhouse and owners booth.
Whatever the reason, it was neat, tidy, and integral to the plot of the film and the character.
As I think back at the inception of my fandom, I can’t help but remember it in much the same way.
Imagine yourself, a seven year old ginger boy in Canada, watching your first ever baseball game.
The snow falls softly to the earth outside your window as you witness a stranger on television, a man you’d never heard of before though would himself become an important, almost myth-like figure to you and millions of others like you, step to the plate.
That man. Joe Carter.
Now, I don’t actually know if it was snowing. But, like a movie, if it’s set in Canada it tends to be snowing. How else would you know it’s set in Canada, after all.
It’s October 23rd, 1993 and the clock reads (roughly) 11:30pm. You sit in the living room with your mom, her baseball crazy friend, and Joe.
Your mother let you stay up much later than normal. That alone might tell you it’s a special night, even if you don’t entirely understand why. It felt different. It was palpable in a way you couldn’t explain.
And in remembering this moment, I sometimes wonder just how much he, I, understood. If somewhere in that child’s underdeveloped brain he could wrap his head around the importance of it, or if time and hindsight has changed my perception of that night.
I also sometimes wonder for that matter if that child had any idea that he would go on to spend most of his formative years watching his team lose, never quite bringing him the same joy he found in 1993.
But, I digress.
As Mitch Williams delivers the fateful pitch, as Carter pulls it down the left field line, as the ball disappears, as the fans erupt in unbridled joy, the world shifts. At least yours does.
Your mom’s friend cheers. Skips up and down the hallway from the living room. You can hear car horns honk loudly from the street outside in the previously silent night. People you’ve never met, but are forever connected to through shared experience scream out in celebration from the blackness.
Your heart is racing, though you still aren’t entirely sure why. To this point you’d been cheering for the team you were told to cheer for. The blue one. The Canadian one. But, that’s sort of the beauty of sports. It has the power to sweep you away, even if you don’t understand why or how it is happening.
After that ball fell over the wall for the game winning, series winning homerun, you were no longer cheering for some team. Not the blue one, or the Canadian. You were cheering for your team. Because, in that moment where the Jays won their second of back-to-back World Series’, your fandom had begun.
I think we can forgive him the bandwagon of it all considering, as mentioned, he was seven. And had some 22-years of misery ahead of him. We can give him this one.
That is my story. At least the way I remember it.
One moment. One pitch. One crack of the bat. My world was changed.
As I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize how we romanticize our past in much the way that movies show the idyllic, perfectly worded version of the scene.
It’s all more epic, and beautiful than it could ever have really been in reality.
But, that’s how I remember it.
I’m a fan of the Blue Jays because when I was seven my mother let me stay up late, watch Joe Carter hit a homerun, and in that moment my world changed. Even if I couldn’t understand why or how at the time.
I am a Blue Jays fan because... I was never going to be anything else. It was integral to the plot of my movie.
How about all of you, BBB Nation? What’s your story. Why are you a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays?