Joe Carter comes to Ballston Spa.
He didn’t materialize out of the stand of pines beyond third base and walk onto the Ballston Spa High School field.
He wasn’t a ghost.
No, that really was Joe Carter, who won the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays with one swing of the bat, watching a Section II baseball game between the Scotties and Niskayuna High on Friday.
Dozens of major league baseball scouts have populated the Niskayuna sidelines all spring.
They’re all there to watch Silver Warriors senior Garrett Whitley, likely to be picked in the first or second round in the June 8 draft.
None of those scouts, however, can claim to have been a five-time All-Star in 16 seasons and to have hit 396 home runs, including one monumental one.
Joe Carter, now scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks, did all that.
But he is most easily remembered for ripping a one-out 2-2 pitch from the Philadelphia Phillies’ Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth for a three-run homer that gave the Blue Jays an 8-6 win and the 1993 World Series championship.
His jubilant jump-skip around first base as the ball sailed over the SkyDome left field wall, followed by Carter being engulfed by his entire team at the plate, is one of the most indelible images in baseball.
So, yeah, that guy just happened to be hanging out in Ballston Spa on Friday.
“First time in Albany . . . a few people said ‘We’re going to kidnap you and keep you here for bringing this nice weather,’ ” Carter said with a laugh.
Fat chance. I mean, the kidnapping part.
In January, Carter was hired as a special assistant to his former Blue Jays teammate, Dave Stewart, now the Diamondbacks general manager.
On Friday, that assignment landed him at Albany International, after a flight from Nashville, where he had scouted Vanderbilt against Florida. By the time you read this, he’ll be on his way to Baton Rouge, La., to watch LSU play Missouri.
The 55-year-old Carter, who worked as a TV broadcaster for a few years after retiring as a player in 1999, had been content to live the good life in Kansas City, mostly playing golf. Stewart was hired by the Diamondbacks last fall, and one of the first phone calls he made was to his trusted former teammate.
“He saw the way that I carried myself and said, ‘We need you in the game,’ ” Carter said. “I’m going to tell him exactly what I think.
“Since we have the No. 1 pick this year, I’m looking at all the prospects that they’ve already identified.”
That includes Whitley.
Carter, dressed in a red Diamondbacks golf shirt, khakis and white sneakers, spent Friday’s game conversing with Mike Serbalik, the former Shenendehowa and Siena star who is now a Northeast area scout for the Diamondbacks.
He watched Whitley take batting practice and talked to him and his father before the game, and came away impressed.
“Good head, good young man. Good family,” Carter said.
“I try to go back to when I was in high school and what I tried to do. I look at the players and try to evaluate them, but I like to talk to them, and then look at how they interact off the field. Are they a good teammate? How do they carry themselves? Are they always hustling? The intangibles that maybe don’t always show up.”
Carter grew up in Oklahoma and was a three-sport high school star, including a long jump state championship. He parked cars and kept the books at his father’s gas station when he was 9 years old.
He opted to play football and baseball at Wichita State because Barry Switzer wouldn’t let him out of spring football practice at Oklahoma University.
The Chicago Cubs took him with the second pick overall in the 1981 draft, and he also played for the Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants.
But his name will always be most closely associated with the homer that beat the Phillies in 1993. The only other player in MLB history to hit a game-ending home run to clinch a World Series was Bill Mazeroski for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.
Carter said he was looking for a breaking ball from Mitch Williams, because he had just swung and missed one for strike two. He got a cut fastball, instead.
“I go back and look at the pitch, and I’m like, man, I don’t know how I hit the ball or even kept it fair,” Carter said. “Because that pitch, you’re either going to swing over it or you’re going to hook it into the dugout, which I was very famous for. But because I was looking off-speed and just reacted to the fastball down and in, I was able to keep it in.
“A lot of excitement happened after that.”
You could say that.
Ninth inning. Home field. Down a run. Two men on. Two strikes.
World Series on the line.
Last month, Williams and former Phillies teammate Lenny Dykstra attended a sports roast that revived an old feud and turned into a gloriously profane sparring match.
At one point, Dykstra, who did time in 2013 for grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement, told Williams, “Prison was like a fantasy camp [compared to] playing behind him.”
“It’s cool for me, but it’s not cool for Mitch,” Carter said with a laugh. “Here it is, 22 years later, and it’s still being brought up.”