Canadian Baseball’s “Carter Effect”
Future Hall of Famer – Vince Carter – sparked the love of basketball into the hearts of millions of Canadians. The former Raptor played in Toronto between 1998 and 2004. During that time, Carter was a 4-time All-Star, 1999 Rookie of the Year, broke dozens of team records, and put on an unforgettable performance on his way to becoming the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Content Champion.
Carter’s legacy has sparked a new love of basketball in Canada. The former 5th overall pick’s on-court success and off-court personality has paved the way for incredible Canadian talent over the last two decades. Not only has Canada seen the likes of RJ Barrett, Jamal Murray, and Andrew Wiggins dominate the game over the last few seasons, but the Carter Effect has also produced fundamental basketball infrastructure in the country, such as Athlete Institute’s Orangeville Prep Basketball Academy that has produced over 40 Division I talent since 2013 of which 8 have reached the NBA.
However, the Carter Effect is not a standalone phenomenon. While there is yet to be a catchy nickname, baseball in Canada is beginning to see a growing wave of interest in the country. This wave can be traced back to the 2015 and 2016 Toronto Blue Jays who reached the ALCS in back-to-back years. Boasting players such as 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson, two-time Home Run Champion Jose Bautista, and a roster of other award-winning and talented players, the Toronto Blue Jays became one of the most exciting teams in the MLB in the mid-2010s.
Not only was there a record-breaking interest for TV viewership, with over a million Canadian tuning in a game during the 2016 season, but in that same year, Baseball Canada also documented over 120,000 participants playing baseball, a 14% year-over-year increase.
One of the best examples of Canada’s new baseball wave can be quantified by the success of the Canadian Premier Baseball League (CPBL). The CPBL is one of the main Elite leagues, the highest form of junior baseball in Ontario. The league was founded in the summer of 2015 and since its inauguration it has produced 181 MLB draft picks, 145 Junior National Team Members, and over 750 school commitments in just 7 years. Originally consisting of just six teams, five more organizations joined the CPBL in the spring of 2021, demonstrating the desire and demand for competitive Elite teams in Ontario.
Now, in 2022, the Toronto Blue Jays are once again one of the most interesting baseball teams in the MLB and top Canadian talent is already heading down the pipeline. While Joey Votto was once the sole face of Canadian baseball, there are now 21 active Canadian players in the MLB, 12 of which have made their debut in the last 3 seasons. Votto is now joined by other superstars from the Great White North, such as Jordan Romano, Tyler O’Neil, Mike Soroka, and others. Whether you’re on your way to the Dome to watch a game or heading to the diamond to play, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the old ball game.