Thursday, 16 February 2012
Gary "The Kid" Carter
I was about to write something on the fantastic tilt between Montreal and Boston last night when news came down about Gary Carter's death. At this moment, I can't think about anything but Gary Carter, and while he wasn't a Hab, his retired Expos number hangs in the rafters of the Bell Centre, and for the rest of today "The Breakdown" will be dedicated to "the Kid".
As I type this, Warren Cromartie is breaking down on air with Mitch Melnick on TSN 990. He is clearly torn up about this. Hearing him speak, tells you what you need to know.I never knew the man, but I knew his legacy - really well. Better then most in fact.
I'll never forget that early summer day in 1992. I was at my friend Lee's house, I didn't know or care for much about baseball. All Lee could talk about however was that Gary Carter had moved in down the street. All I could as was "who"? Lee went on, "Gary.Carter. From the Expos!". I gave him a befuddled look, no clue who he was talking about. "He's one of the best ball players ever! He's amazing!". "So, why don't you go ask him for an autograph?" I asked. "I can't just do that" was the reply, but I was again quick-back: "why not?"
So, we trekked down the block, a whole three or four houses and rang the bell. A boy, around the same age as us answered the bell. Lee was petrified. "Hi. Is your dad home?" I asked. "No" the boy answered. "Oh, ok. We're going to go play catch in the park. Wanna come?" I asked. (There was a park across the way). "Sure! I'm D.J." The boy replied.
The three of us crossed to the park across the street an played catch for hours. D.J. was a great kid. I know Lee and D.J. played catch a few more times that summer, never meeting "The Kid". The topic of an autograph never came up again. When Gary Carter retired at the end of the season, he moved back to Florida with his family, but not before personally dropping off an autographed ball for Lee, leaving it with his mom.
I wouldn't care much for baseball until a few years later, and once I cared about baseball, I knew damn well about Gary's legacy on the field. I also started to hear the stories my dad would tell of how impactful Carter was in Montreal. He was a superstar rivaling anyone on the Habs. He learned French of his own accord (even using it at his Hall of Fame induction speech many years later). He was involved with community activities, and of course, he was one hell of a ball player - a hall of famer in fact.
Based on my his numbers from the field, the storybook career ending double, (a game winner no less) a triumphant return home for his final playing season, and having great kids, Gary has left a Hall of fame legacy on and off the field.
Today I am sad for D.J, I'm sad for Gary's other friends and Family, I'm sad for the Crow whose pain pierced through the radio on Mitch Melnick's show, but I can take some little solace knowing that one day soon #8 will take to the field in Dubuque County, Iowa.