The Blue Jays had won the World Series. For the first time in history, Major League Baseball's championship banner was flying north of the border. But winning again wasn't going to be easy. Many of the biggest stars of the 1992 championship team weren't going to be back with the Jays in 1993. Dave Winfield, Jimmy Key, David Cone, Tom Henke: they were all all free agents. None of them would end up returning to Toronto.
But Carter wasn't sure where he wanted to play in 1993. He loved Toronto, but he lived in Kansas City. Going home to play for the Kansas City Royals was a very tempting proposition. He was torn: he knew he wanted to play for one of those two teams, but he wasn't sure which one to pick.
That winter, Carter met with the owner of the Royals, Ewing Kauffman. Kauffman was an old man now, and his health was failing. He only had a few months left to live. He wanted his baseball team to win — and to do it before he died. So he offered the slugger more money than the Blue Jays were willing to pay, plus an extra year and all the other contractual clauses that Carter was asking for.
Years later, the Kansas City Star asked Carter how close he came to singing with the Royals. The slugger held his finger and his thumb about an inch apart. "Closer than this," he told them.
But that night, after his meeting with Kauffman, Joe Carter had a dream. He told Sportsnet about it as part of an oral history of the 1993 Blue Jays season.
"I was walking to the ballpark with Devon White," he remembered. "It was kind of dark and we came up on the stadium. When I looked up, the lights lit up and it said, 'Welcome to the SkyDome.'"
As Carter woke the following morning, the dream lingered in his mind. And then he looked outside: his backyard was full of birds. They were all blue jays. It was, he thought, a clear sign from God.
That was all he needed. "The next day I signed with the Blue Jays... That's how I came back."
And that's exactly what he did:
I first learned about Joe Carter's dream thanks to Sportsnet's oral history of the 1993 Blue Jays. And you can read the Kansas City Star article about the dream here.