I attended my first Blue Jays game at age six in the spring of 1991. I went, as seemingly every kid does, with my father and also my aunt and uncle and my cousin Matt. I sat underneath the Jumbotron at the SkyDome in what my father said were “the worst seats in the house.” I didn’t care. I was so blown away with how big everything seemed. I still get that rush when I enter a baseball stadium. That holy shit feeling, even though I’ve done it dozens of times.
I didn’t know much about baseball at the time and to be honest, I was more of a hockey fan. I had played tee-ball for a couple years but hadn’t felt that much of a connection to the game; that all changed that day.
I still have the ticket in with my massive baseball card collection, the date was May 10th, 1991. The Jays lost the game in extra innings. I don’t remember caring. The game’s winning pitcher was Scott Radinsky; it’s loser was Willie Fraser. Yep, Willie Fraser. Denis Boucher started for Toronto and the White Sox lineup included Tim Raines, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas, Carlton Fisk, Sammy Sosa, and Ozzie Guillen.
From my seat in left-center field, I saw a ridiculous wall-climbing catch by Devon White and two solo home runs from some dude named Roberto Alomar.
Instantly, I was hooked. I begged and begged and begged my father to buy me a jersey emblazoned with number ‘12’ (I settled for a t-shirt and a baseball card with Robbie’s name on it).
I became obsessed with baseball and Alomar was my favourite player. I immediately wanted to play second base and no other position (I remained mainly a second baseman for my entire baseball playing life which lasted until I was 19) and for a while I wore the number 12 (I changed to 24 eventually when a teammate took 12 when I was about ten).
Baseball has since been the one constant in my life and the thing that I get the most joy out of. I have Robbie Alomar and his two home runs on May 10th, 1991 to thank.
Although not without his faults, Alomar always exuded class and respect for the game. He played with enthusiasm and determination and flat out refused to lose.
Along with his 2-homer game against the Sox, his home run in the 1992 World Series off of Dennis Eckersley rank as two of my most defined childhood memories.
Thank you Mr. Alomar for everything you did for me and countless others here in Canada. You are the definition of a Hall of Famer and I couldn’t be happier for you.