's run of ignominy ended Tuesday night, as he stepped up to the plate for the Minnesota Twins
in the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox
. The diminutive infielder took a pitch from White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago
and drilled it into the left-field seats, beginning a home-run trot he hadn't performed in more than three years.
Making the moment even more special: The game marked 10 years of major-league service time for Carroll, who didn't reach the bigs until he was summoned by the Montreal Expos as a 28-year-old in 2002. Carroll, whose wife, children, father and brothers were in attendance, told reporters
after the game that he couldn't believe he had made it this far:
"I just remember when I first got called up and thinking, 'Wow, I'll be 38 if I ever make it 10 years.' Honest to God, I'll tell you, I would have bet everything I had - not that I owned anything at that time - that that wouldn't be the case, and here we are."
Besides being a meaningful milestone for any professional athlete, reaching 10 years of service time has a practical benefit, as well. By making it to the 10-year plateau, Carroll will now receive full pension benefits
when his playing career is over - a remarkable achievement for a man who began his major-league journey when the majority of players are already well underway in theirs.
The majors has traditionally been a difficult spot for players of Carroll's ilk - the light-hitting infielder who relies on brilliant fielding and smart baserunning to overcome a major lack of power. He fits the journeyman moniker well, playing for his sixth major-league team - never spending more than three seasons with the same one.
Twins left fielder Darren Mastroianni retrieved the home-run ball
for a jubilant Carroll, who intended to give it to his son Cole. And given Carroll's track record - it was his first homer in 1,384 at-bats and just the 13th of his career - the ball may be one of the rarest pieces of sports memorabilia around.