Contrary to what Tom Hanks would have us believe, there is, indeed, crying in baseball.
With the possible exception of those who have the misfortune of never having watched Gary Carter play baseball, there were few people last week who were not deeply saddened by the heartbreaking passing from inoperable brain cancer of the famously affable yet hard-playing Hall of Fame catcher and slugger.
Carter was much more than just the sum of his Hall of Fame stats, and, for that, Senator Marty Golden is hoping to introduce a Resolution in the New York State Senate remembering the smiling, warm-hearted, philanthropic catcher, whom everyone called “Kid,” because of his bottomless well of childlike enthusiasm.
This lifelong Mets fan still remembers coming home from school, all of 9-years-old, and watching Carter, in his debut for the team, blast the game-winning homer on Opening Day against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the moment my family and I fell in love with him, and we fell even harder after he produced the rallying single (after which longtime first base coach Bill Robinson recalled Carter uncharacteristically swearing: “I’m not going to make the last f—ing out of the World Series”) in the infamous game six of the Fall Classic against the Boston Red Sox, which gave the Mets the hope they needed to ultimately win the series (I didn’t actually see him make that hit, because my head was buried in my hands in the next room, sobbing, since I couldn’t bear to watch my favorite player, and hero, make the last f—ing out of the World Series).
Early on in his time with the Mets, anyone watching the ballgames on Channel 9 could recall commercials featuring Carter advocating on behalf of children with leukemia (the disease that took his mother when Carter was 12), promising a signed Topps baseball card to anyone who made a donation. I received one of those cards, as promised. Later on, his Annual Golf Classic raised funds for juvenile diabetes and, according to Wikipedia, the Gary Carter Foundation, of which he was president, “has placed over $622,000 toward charitable purposes, including $366,000 to local elementary schools for their reading programs.”
Golden told The Daily News:
“This guy was really something, no drugs, no alcohol, no womanizing, a passion for the game. That’s the type of son you wanted to have. A guy that had a commitment to greatness. If we had more role models like him, we’d be in a lot better place.”
According to Golden’s Senate website, the legislator plans to honor “the Mets great, #8,” with official recognition when the Senate resumes session later this month. He had also requested that the Empire State Building be adorned in blue and orange — as it was the day following his death — to honor the memory of a “true New York hero.”
Carter was a positive role model, indeed, as Golden stated: a “true New York hero,” and I think that is something all of our legislators and baseball fans — Democrats and Republicans, Mets fans and Yankees fans — can actually come together and agree upon.