The beauty of baseball is that the connection you have with a player is greater than any other sport. You have the ups and downs of 162 games, year after year. They're YOUR guys. So when a player from your childhood dies, it’s like a part of you died.
I’ve been a Mets fan since 1984 but didn’t really get into it until ’85, which just so happened to be Gary Carter’s first year as a Met. To a kid, Gary Carter was the player you wanted to be. Someone who had fun playing the game. Someone who did it the right way.
Aside from him being one of my favorites, he was one of my mom’s too. We got a new dog in 1989 and when it came time to give her a name, I suggested Sandy (I was in the middle of re-reading Carter’s autobiography and just finished the chapter where he met his future wife, Sandy). Mom loved the name and the player. She was always participating in the “GA-RY” chants during his many curtain calls. I couldn’t help but think about her when I heard the news today and I'm glad they’re both in a better place.
The demons that have plagued the 1986 Mets have been well documented, but the appeal of Carter was how he seemed to rise above the chaos. A family man, a religious man, he was someone who left EVERYTHING on the field. In today’s age of selfish me-first players, this was a man who signed every autograph, posed for every picture, and was thankful for what he had. This was someone who never took what he had for granted.
What really shook me today was how this AMAZING man who did nothing wrong was struck down by this awful disease and taken away from his family way too soon. My condolences to them.
Rest in Peace, Gary Edmund Carter. You will be truly missed.