Friday, February 17, 2012

RIP Gary Carter

Gary Carter passed away yesterday.  The entire baseball was shook by his passing, even those that never met him or saw him play.  

As a fan of the Mets I feel this loss.  The Mets are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season and it will be different without the Kid.  He has been at every celebration of the franchise and 1986 team and now what will be perhaps the biggest celebration of them all won't have him.  Gary Carter seemed to love everything about playing baseball and being a role model for teammates and fans.  Just listening to what other members of the Mets organization said about him shows you that.  And hearing from fans that had a chance to meet him really shows that he tried to make each moment special.

And that is where it gets personal for someone in my family.  I never met him but my mom did.  She would go with her friends to see the Mets in various road cities.  She saw the Mets in Montreal and met Carter.  He just sat down with her and her friends and talked to them.  At the bar in the hotel.  And she always mentions that he didn't drink at all (while she witnessed some other players get quite drunk).  It's still hard for me to believe the story because I just cannot imagine a player having such a connection to the fans.  But that was Gary Carter.

Carter spent most of his career with Expos and was inducted into the Hall of Fame with an Expos cap on his plaque.  However, he loved the Mets and the fans loved him back.  He was easy to like immediately.  That's what happens when you hit a walk-off home run in your first game with a team.  And he started that rally in game 6.  Both Mets and Expos fans connected with him.  Both fanbases claimed him as their own.  And he loved both organizations.  I really liked when he had Mets and Expos caps before the 2008 All Star Game.  He didn't have to choose which organization to embrace.  There was enough passion for everyone.

The only time I saw him in person was at the 1986 celebration in 2006.  That entire team was beloved.  At that point I only knew of a few players from that team.  Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling from being on the Mets broadcasts and Mookie Wilson because no one could forget someone with that name.  But I also knew about Gary Carter.  I had decided that if I had been around in 1986 he would have been my favorite.  Something about catchers, I guess.

He really made an impact on so many people.  Everyone he played with and managed.  Fans of all ages and generations.  It is nothing short of amazing.

Gary Carter will live on in baseball forever.  He found a way to do what so many wish they could.  He stayed a kid forever. 

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