What can I say about Gary Carter, that has not been covered since the Hall Fame baseball Player passed away. First, let’s look at the obvious things that most people will mention when it came to his baseball career.
Born in 1954, Carter was drafted by the Montreal Expos and played 17 of his 19 big league season with the them as well as the New York Mets, including the 1986 World Championship season. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.
I always admired Gary as a baseball player, but I got to know him as a person during the one season he played under Tommy Lasorda with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At the age of 37, Carter joined the Dodgers in 1991. It was his first year with the club and it was mine as well. Carter did not have his greatest year as a pro that year. I often say it was the best team in baseball never to go to the World Series. That year, Gary hit .246 with six home runs and 26 RBI in 101 games and honestly, I do not remember many of the highlights from that year.
What I do remember, very well, was the time I spent with Gary. It was mostly during road trips, away frm Dodger Stadium. During my road trips with the team Gary and I often shared a row of seats and what came between us was a very competitive game of cribbage. This was one area I could compete with the future Hall of Famer, but truth be told, he beat me more than I beat him.
He loved it when he could steal points from me and I certainly reminded him when I won a cribbage game.
There is a story that will always stick with me when I think of Gary Carter. We were in New York one road trip to play the Mets and we were staying at the Grand Hyatt on 42nd and Lexington. Gary talked me into skipping the team bus and taking the train from grand central station out to Flushing for the game. The trainw as either the 4 or the 7 but I am sure someone in New York can remind me the correct number.
Gary and I boarded the train and I naturally waited for someone to recognize him. It didn’t take very long before he was being chatted up by the fans and he loved it. Gary loved to talk baseball, and did it all the way to the Stadium. He did send one fan my way. The fan, a long time Dodger fan, was still upset the Dodgers left Brooklyn and showed me a ticket stub from the team’s last game at Ebbets Field. Gary sat and listened and just winked at me as the man pleaded his case.
Another time, Gary found me in the Dodgers locker room before a game. He had passed someone on the all-time catcher’s list and wanted me to know for research and media purposes. I didn’t miss many records when I when I was with the team, but this one got by me and Gary reminded me. He was certainly competitive.
We missed the playoffs by one game that year and though Gary retired after the 1992 season, we still spoke or wrote now and then. The last time I saw him was at the Major League Baseball All Star game in 2010 in Anaheim. He looked over, saw me and came over to give me a hug. He was that kind of guy.
After Gary was diagnosed with cancer, I immediately fired off an email of support to him. Now, as we mourn his loss, I just finished sending an email of support to his family. Gary’s passion was his family, his religion and baseball. I know in the brief time he was in my life, I am a better person for it. I’ll miss you Gary.