Thursday, February 16, 2012

They Called Him the Kid

Category:  Obituary/Tribute

He was "The Kid," not because he was necessarily the youngest player on the team but because he played baseball with the child-like enthusiasm that focused on the game first, not the money or the fame or the politics of being a major league baseball player.  More than that, he was a loving husband, father and friend.  He epitomized "teammate" in the truest since of the word.

Gary Carter, better known as "The Kid," died today (2/16) after a nine-month battle with brain cancer.

Carter played for the Montreal Expos for a dozen years before moving to the New York Mets.  While with the Mets he won his only World Series ring, in 1986, in a memorable seven-game series against the Boston Red Sox.  While Red Sox fans may remember (and cringe every time it's mentioned) Bill Buckner's error that enabled the Mets to win game six, it was Gary Carter's hit with two out in the bottom of the tenth inning that started the rally that enabled the Mets to erase a two-run deficit to deny the Red Sox the championship.

Gary Carter may not have had the superstar name recognition of contemporaries like Johnny Bench or Carlton Fisk but he was an equally capable catcher.  He had a superb .991 fielding percentage behind the plate, just one of the Hall of Fame stats he amassed during his 19 seasons on the field.  Carter also played the outfield, third base and first base during his career. He was voted to the All-Star team eleven times, twice winning the game MVP award.

Carter retired after the 1992 season, and it took until 2003 for his phone to ring informing him that he had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In May 2011 Carter was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma.  Despite treatment tumors continued to be present on his brain, and by January 2012 he was labeled terminal when yet more tumors were discovered after Carter injured his arm in a fall.  

Carter's former teammater, pitcher Ron Darling, described The Kid earlier in the day:  "Gary Carter was everything you wanted in a sports hero:  a great talent, a great competitor, a great family man, and a great friend."

Gary "The Kid" Carter, gentleman sports hero, was 57.

No comments: