The Kid passed away today. He left us much too soon at the age of 57 from brain cancer. Today was such a sad day in so many ways. When someone you revered in your childhood passes away, it is especially emotional. Athletes, by and large, do not make good role models. Gary Carter was a shining exception.
He was one of my two favorite players growing up, along with Keith Hernandez. Yes, Doc and Darryl were flashy and represented the future of those Mets teams, but Kid and Mex represented the veteran presence, the steady hand, and the will to win. Gary and Keith were different on the outside, but similar on the inside. Both had the burning desire to win at any cost, Keith was street-wise while Gary was the eternal optimist.
There are so many memories that have lasted all of this time. His first game as a New York Met? Gary homered to beat St. Louis. On the road after an 0-2 start to the 1986 World Series? Gary homered twice to knot the series in Game Four. The Game Six rally? Gary started it.
Gary was truly an inspiration and as the years have worn on, I appreciate him more now than I did when I was a kid. He played a tough position, but he showed up every game. In the face of adversity, he would not quit. Gary was a true, born leader. You saw it every at-bat and every inning behind the plate in every game. Gary exhibited those values on the baseball field, but they can easily be adapted to life.
You see, there was a time I was a kid, but Gary never stopped being a kid. We can all learn something from that.