200 Miles From the Citi

February 17, 2012 7:45 PM

Remembering Gary Carter


Game-winning home runs.

All Star Game MVPs.

Rally-starting base-hits.

Clutch RBIs.

Let's appreciate Hall of Famer Gary Carter today by looking back on some of our favorite memories of The Kid.

-The first time Gary Carter left us - in a baseball sense - was at his retirement in 1992.  For some reason, the first memory I thought of when sitting down to write this was Gary Carter's last major league at-bat, when he hit a clutch double for the Expos and then was lifted for a pinch-runner (backup catcher Tim Laker).  Maybe because it was his last triumphant moment.  Maybe because it was such a better memory of his final years as a ballplayer than the previous struggles.  Maybe simply because it's my last memory of Gary Carter as a player.  But it's one of my favorites.  (Update: I just found an article on Deadspin remembering this moment - with video too.  I was going to say the double involved a game-winning RBI - but that sounded too good to be true - I thought my memory was painting the moment too positively. Watch the video.  It's even better than I remembered.)

-I don't remember the year or the game (though I believe once in the past couple of years I went through some 1987 box scores and believe I figured it out), but the place was Shea Stadium, and Gary Carter hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 9th inning that resulted in what was probably the most joyous I've ever been at a game in my life.

-Of course there's the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, which gets talked about more than anything - his single to start the 2-out rally.  But there's his Game 5 game-winning RBI in the NLCS that year, when he was in a horrid slump, and his Game 4 2-homer performance in Boston.  I maintain he was the World Series MVP.

-I loved when the Mets inducted Gary Carter into the team Hall of Fame.  My now-wife, then fairly-new-girlfriend realized early on what Carter meant to me...she quickly agreed to go to the game with me.  The event took place in the rain, and there were some die-hard Gary Carter fans there.  I realized that day how much Gary Carter meant to people other than me.  Mets fans appreciated him.  And I appreciated that.

Here are some links from the past couple of days about Gary Carter:
-Here's a great article by Tom Verducci which includes two gems: How Carter is like "Tim Tebow with more talent and without social media" and describing Carter's catching style as a "great, round pillow of a target with no extraneous movement". 
-The ESPN obituary, which is quite nice actually, and briefly mentions the bad publicity from a few years ago when Carter took flack for 'campaigning for Willie Randolph's job'. (The article also has removed since yesterday references to the family's website in which ESPN had said they were granted 'exclusive' access.)
-This is the family's website, on which Carter's daughter alludes to the idea that she will continue to post and write about her father's final four weeks of life
-I'm not sure how I feel about this article by Marty Noble for (and who I bet is the 1985 'reporter' referred to in the article, when he worked for Newsday) - but at the very least it's an honest look at Gary Carter's life and playing career.
-Another ESPN article, this one by Rob Parker, reflects on Carter's immediate impact on the Mets
-Twice I've come close to tears over Gary Carter's death.  The first was when I was writing my reflection yesterday.  The second was reading this article by Jeff Pearlman on (Thanks to Justin from Sports Crackle Pop! for bringing it to my attention.)
-Ian O'Connor's ESPN entry is also pretty great.  I love reading about what a great man Carter was.  
-Joe Posnanski writes about Gary Carter's infectious enthusiasm, and how he may not have been appreciated for his greatness.  I've thought that from time to time.
-Bill Littlefield delivered this eulogy for Gary Carter on NPR's 'Only A Game' on Saturday.
-It's not the best he's ever done, but I need to link to Mike Lupica's article on Gary Carter's passing.  I'm not sure when I started becoming obsessed with reading Lupica in a similar, but not equal, way to how I was obsessed with Carter..but it's another link to my childhood.
-And on Friday the New York Daily News online also had an excellent photo gallery of Gary Carter's playing and post-playing career.
-Harvey Araton has an article in The New York Times on what Carter meant to Palm Beach Atlantic University, as they played their first game since his death.

Thank you to my brother for sending me this image of the Empire State Building Friday night, lit in Mets orange and blue to honor Gary Carter.

This is probably my last reflection on Gary Carter's passing.  But it won't be my last post on Gary Carter. Sure, there will be no more updates on his managing career.  There won't be any more updates on his life after enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.  There won't be any new developments.

But more than anything else when I wrote about Gary Carter in the past, I wrote about the wonderful memories he provided for me.  And those haven't changed.  And there's plenty more where those came from.

The Kid may be gone.  But in many ways, Gary Carter lives on.

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