When I heard the sad news about Gary Carter's premature death last week, the first thing that popped into my head was, I can't recall seeing another player who seemed to get so much joy out of playing baseball than The Kid.
He was arguably the biggest star ever to play for the late lamented Montreal Expos. Some might say, he was the biggest star for any Canadian-based major league baseball team. And even when he went to the New York Mets and got his hair all "permed up," he never lost the smile and the infectious delight he seemed to take from playing.
His death also sent me to my scrap books because through the years, I've seen Carter play a few times.
Here's a shot of my game day stub when I saw him play with the Mets in Shea Stadium.
The Mets were the defending World Series champions in 1987, having defeated the Boston Red Sox in a thrilling seven-game series the year before. The Bosox were one strike away from winning the series in six games. But Carter was part of that incredible Game Six, bottom of the 9th inning, which ended when Mookie Wilson hit a squibber through first baseman Bill Buckner's legs, and as Vin Scully said, "Knight scores and the Mets win!"
My score card reminds me of what a great team those Mets were:
The Mets were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates that day. And look who was leading off for The Bucs (and back then, he looked normal --- Barry hadn't started on his steroids diet yet).
I also saw Carter play in the first ever "Pearson Cup", an unofficial one-game match between the two Canadian-based teams, only for bragging rights. The cup was named after former PM Lester Pearson, who was a huge baseball fan.
While the Jays were still many years away from being a contender, check out the powerhouse Expo lineup:
Some of the all-time Expo greats played in that game, including Warren Cromartie, Ellis Valentine, Andre Dawson, and of course, Gary Carter.
Thanks for the memories Kid.
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