Remembering A Man I Don’t Remember

I don’t know much about Gary Carter firsthand. He played his last baseball game when I was 5 years old, and I was just entering a state of baseball consciousness. The MLB Network didn’t exist back then, and so the Montreal Expos or the New York Mets weren’t on my radar until a few years after Carter had retired. Carter passed away at the age of 57 last week, after being diagnosed with four brain tumors last May. He fought the tumors as best he could, but the cancerous bodies were too much in the end.

Carter’s death did not significantly impact me personally when I heard the news. I knew he was a great player, a hall of famer, and was a fan favorite during his playing days. Yet, the only image I could conjure up of Carter’s playing time was the highlights I have seen of when he singled and subsequently dashed across the plate during the Mets infamous Game 6 rally in the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox. Beyond that, all I could say is that I recognize his name, hair, and smile.

However, having read and heard numerous memorials to Carter’s life and playing career over the last few days, I can say that I wish I had the opportunity to watch him play, and see his attitude and approach to the game, fans, and life.

Originally nicknamed “Kid” as a jest at his energetic approach to even the most mundane tasks, Carter is now affectionately known as the “Kid” who kept alive the spirit of the game, even while ascending to the peak of competition and achievement in his profession. He played his career on and off the field in the manner that we tend to use as the standard (whether realistically or not) for professional athletes. He played the game hard and with enthusiasm, providing those who saw him play with a picture of a combination of ability, hustle, and a joy for the game. Off the field he always stopped to interact with the fans of the game, especially the youth. There are many accounts of when the team bus would be delayed because Carter was refusing to stop signing autographs for kids.

The death of Gary Carter is a sobering event. It is a reminder that there are few athletes in our lifetime who are able to live up to the incredibly high standards that are placed on them, unjustifiably in most cases. At the same time, his death gives us the opportunity to pause, reflect, and perhaps garner some inspiration for our own lives. What an honor it would be to be remembered in the same manner that Carter has been – cherished by his family, respected for his career accomplishments, and admired for his character.  

Peter Ellwood is a staff writer for ShutDownInning. You can email him at or reach him on Twitter @peter_ellwood
Peter Ellwood

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