A Blue Jays fan from Nanaimo got to wow his heroes with home-run hitting exploits.
Jeff Vickers of the Nanaimo Coal Miners will defend his title as Jays Care home run derby champion later this month at Vancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium.
Vickers won the inaugural charity event last year on a surreal day at the ballpark.
“You walk in and you have your nameplate above your locker, with a full set of brand-new equipment,” he said. “So I walked in and right beside [my locker] was Joe Carter’s. So I thought, ‘Oh, man, this is going to be sweet.’”
The 1993 World Series hero walked in a moment later and introduced himself.
“Like most Canadians, when you have every Blue Jays game on TV, that’s the team you see and you end up following. As long as I can remember, I’ve been a Jays fan…” Vickers said. “It was basically a dream for a young baseball fan come true.”
Other Jays alumni including Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby, Kelly Gruber and Homer Bush offered encouragement as Vickers hit his long bombs.
“It was just sort of an added bonus to be able to win and get my picture with the trophy and shaking Joe Carter’s hand,” Vickers said. “That was the fun stuff, but the winning itself was sort of secondary to the whole reason I decided to accept the invitation.”
Last year’s event raised enough money to open up a Jays Care community clubhouse in Langley, and this month’s event will raise proceeds to rehabilitate a run-down field in east Vancouver.
The idea of helping build the sport of baseball appeals to Vickers, he said.
“[It’s a] passion of mine … and any opportunity I get to promote the game and raise money for something that’s worthwhile like this, it’s an added bonus,” he said.
For this month’s home run derby, June 26 at Nat Bailey Stadium, Jeff has recruited his brother Grant – a former Coal Miners player – to join the TD Bank team. The brothers work just down the hall from one another at the bank.
“There’s already some trash talking going on at the office,” Jeff joked. “I’m not afraid to walk down the hallway and give him a little jab.”