200 Miles From the Citi

February 16, 2012 7:31 PM

There Goes My Hero


Tonight I read Gary Carter's obituary.

And that just seems absurd to me.

I've read tweets mourning his passing from Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra's museum - two catchers who came before Carter and who will now outlive him.

I'm having a whole lot of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the man I grew up idolizing has died.

And I don't really know what to write.

I've told you many times about how Gary Carter was the reason I became a Mets fan - the reason I started following Major League Baseball, really.

I've also reflected more than once on the hole his increasingly inevitable passing would leave in my life.

I've always hoped I'd have the chance to meet him.  Just to say thank you for being a positive influence on my life.  And for never letting me down as a role model.

I thought about what I'd write when the day came that Carter did pass away. I was hoping for something extremely eloquent - and now I'm finding that I can't exactly find the words to express just how much Gary Carter meant to me.

He was a great baseball player.  Little did I know when my friends and I had our generation's (and location's) version of the  "Willy/Mickey/Duke" arguments (it usually involved Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and Don Mattingly), that the choice I always defended would end up being the only Hall of Famer in the trio.

But it went beyond baseball.  Yes, I was a Mets fan, but growing up everyone knew me as a Gary Carter fan.  I didn't just get a thrill from watching him play baseball - I got a thrill when the Ivory Soap commercial he did came on the TV.  That lasted throughout my life - I watched celebrity softball games, followed college and minor league baseball games, and waited for his next appearance on ESPN's 2-Minute Drill just to catch a glimpse of him...but it started when I was an impressionable youngster watching and reading about everything he did.  One of the best gifts I ever received was a spring training Mets jersey with a cheap iron-on 8 on the back.  Heck - I even considered getting a perm once just so my hair would look like his.  (I can't thank you enough, Mom, for dragging your feet on carrying that one out. That would have been a terrible idea.)

So I don't know what to write right now.

I've lost my hero.

And it feels just about as bad as I was afraid it would.

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