A MONTREALER PAYS TRIBUTE TO GARY CARTER.
Years ago, years before I ever imagined I’d be writing about baseball, my friend Steph in Montreal was writing about it all the time on her web site. She wasn’t a baseball blogger, she just wrote about her life, and her life involved baseball – a lot of it. She would write about going to games with her dad and by herself and about the Expos coming into the restaurant where she worked, and at the end, the very end, she was writing editorials and letters to the editor about why the Expos should stay in Montreal. She was a huge inspiration to me and metsgrrl.com and was the first person I thought of today when we heard the sad news about Gary Carter.
Taken by Stephanie Segal, age 9
Well, the day has arrived. The day where the scab on the pain of losing my team, the Expos, always threatening to fall free, is ripped off entirely. The twist in my stomach and tears in my eyes because Gary Carter, more affectionately The Kid, #8, lost his battle to cancer today.
When Caryn asked me if I wanted to say anything about this, I felt myself cringe. Would it be right for me to pay homage to a man who in absolute all honesty has been on my shit list since it was revealed he was questioning entering the hall as an Expo when his time came? Should it be me to bring to mind his greatness when the last few times I pumped my fist in the air toward Carter it was the fabulous emotional cocktail of anger spiked with betrayal?
But here I am writing. Because, of course saddened when I followed the stories in the Gazette of the tumours spreading and worsening, robbing him of his life piece by piece, I didn’t realize what would happen when this inevitable end came. And it’s this: I forgive him. No, I more than forgive him. I completely forget about it, who cares, you were an Expo AND a Met, it was me, not you, Gary. I’m so sorry.
It started in the 70s when my dad took my brother and me to a lot of games. We listened to Dave Van Horne and Duke Snyder on the car radio as we ate at the Orange Julep. Springtime and summertime became baseball time. So to me, the 70s Expos are the definitive team. When I think outfield, I think Andre Dawson and Warren Cromartie. When I think infield I think Chris Speier. And more vividly than those, I think catcher and its only Gary Carter. Gary Carter signaling the pitch. Gary Carter springing up with that grin after strike 3 out 3. Gary Carter with the hair sticking out the bottom of his hat and the dimples. Young Gary Carter. Healthy Gary Carter.
That image of him in my mind’s eye has stayed true, and will remain. He was part of the team that cemented my love for baseball, the Expos, Montreal and being a Montrealer. His impressive stats and skills were something for us to all stick in our belts and boast, but that smile and joie de vivre made us swell with pride and love.
Every spring and summer I miss it. I miss it in the evenings when my radio is silent. I miss it on Sunday afternoons spent not at the Big O. I miss it, I miss it, I miss it…the hot dogs, the popcorn, the crack of the bat, the delight in yelling at the ump, the love of a team, the roar of a crowd (yes, sometimes there was a crowd). I tried to care about another team but couldn’t. I’m an Expos fan to a fault. At least I had my guys, all my guys, my 70s team to the final team. The comfort of them in the news one way or another. I had them all.
Until now. Rest in peace, Gary Carter. Like the Expos, gone far too soon. My condolences to his family, former teammates and players, Expos fans, Mets fans, baseball fans. #8, I love you. No tears in baseball? Can’t say that, anymore.
By Stephanie Segal, Montreal