I’ve made no bones about it: I’ve always loved Gary Carter. I dare say he was my first Mets “crush” as a young girl, specifically after seeing him in his first Shea opener in 1985 and hitting a walk-off home run against Neil Allen. (As I told him personally, it was one of my fondest Mets memories. Though I wasn’t at the game, I had watched it with my dad on TV).
One of the highlights in my adult life was talking to him in that same conversation in our Kult of Mets Personalities podcast. That and actually meeting him after a Brooklyn Cyclones game in 2002. I poured out my guts to him then, and I also blubbered to him on the air when we recorded our interview with him.
Both times, he was incredibly gracious and always loved to hear these stories from his fans. For me, I’ve always been awestruck. I may act tough, I may act mean, especially when it comes to how cumbersome watching the team is these days. At the root of it all, though, I am still a starstruck little girl.
But I wasn’t prepared for this week. First, I lost a friend and a brother to the Mets community, Dana Brand. Let me correct that: WE lost a brother and friend in the Mets community.
Now I see the follow-up reports about the brain tumors found on Gary Carter’s MRI last week: tests could prove Kid’s tumors to be malignant. Later news reported that his tumors may be inoperable but treatable.
Possibly one of my Mets friends put it best when she said when she heard that Tug McGraw was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed impossible not only because of his spirit, but because something like this wasn’t supposed to happen to someone like him who was considerably upbeat and forever young.
That is how I characterize Gary Carter. His nickname was not only “The Kid,” but I remember an article referring to him as “Kid Sunshine,” which I just adored. I thought it was so characteristic of Gary Carter, with his sunny disposition and positive attitude. Say what you want about his camera-focused tendencies (“Camera Carter,” anyone?), but his attitude was so genuine to me. He never lost that boyish enthusiasm for playing the game, and didn’t seem to be jaded. His attitude may rub those in the baseball industry the wrong way, but he’s just always wanted to be involved in what has given him a livelihood and has supported his family that he clearly adores and cherishes so much.
Gary Carter will always remain one of my favorite Mets and favorite baseball players, period. I know this news isn’t be good for anyone to hear, but if anyone can keep a positive attitude and maintain an upbeat personality about his health, it’s Kid Sunshine himself.