Gary Carter died on Thursday.
He was, to most people, The Kid. A Hall of Fame catcher, a coach for Palm Beach Atlantic University, the guy with the most important single in New York Mets history in the 1986 World Series, a man who’d been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May. He was an 11-time All-Star, a 21-year veteran, a 3-time Gold Glove award winner, it’s hard to find a picture of him without a smile on his face and he died at a hospice.
I want to extend my condolences to Gary’s friends and family, but who am I to do that? I do wish them well. I wish death didn’t have to happen like this. Hell, I wish death didn’t have to happen. It’s mean. It doesn’t make sense, even when a doctor says “yeah, this is what’s happening to your brain” and you’ve got a year to plan for it.
The goal, I guess, is to be remembered. Gary Carter won’t have trouble with that. 78.02% of his peers made sure of that back in 2003. But right now — in the days immediately following the realization that he’s gone — how should we remember him? A paragraph of stats? Pictures?
It’s not a thing I figured out, but the memories are what matter most. I’ve been reading our goodbyes to him all morning … Marty Noble at MLB.com, Jeff Pearlman talking through Ed Hearn at The Wallstreet Journal, Jason Fry, a guy who loves the Mets more than anyone I’ve ever met, at Faith And Fear In Flushing. I make baseball players pretend to curse at each other for a living, so I found it hard to find my own words. I couldn’t. I looked for a video, because I’m a guy on the Internet.
Do we remember him through the words of the people who knew him best, being urged through some combo of need and obligation to express themselves on TV for people who want to hear exactly how badly they feel?
Compare and contrast that to this clip, courtesy of Deadspin, of WNYW FOX 5 New York reporter Adrienne Supino proving that it is in fact bloggers who don’t know what they’re talking about by referring to Carter as … well, take a listen.
Maybe some stirring music and footage of his finest moments would be more appropriate?
It almost seems like too much. Life is a series of moments, not a retrospective.
The closest thing I can find to a fitting tribute is this clip of Carter’s last hit in the Majors. As Jon Bois put it, “everything about it is just beautiful”.
I think that’s it. If I was looking down from Heaven at two minutes and twenty seconds of my life — and let’s face it, I’ve never been to Heaven and don’t know how it works, so I might be full of shit — I’d want it to look like this. I’d want to be able to smile from up there and think, “okay, that was pretty awesome”.
Because it was. Right?
Rest in peace, Gary.