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One Last Point: A childhood hero gone Print E-mail
Written by Jef Hatch, Pilot staff writer   
February 21, 2012 09:17 pm

 

Every day people die, famous, infamous, unknown, well-known and locally known, it doesn’t matter who you are, the reaper comes for everyone.

On most occasions death is a sad affair, but once in while death is celebrated as a release from a life of pain; to Heaven, or Nirvana, or blissful nothingness, depending on your particular belief.

And then, in the case of the famous, it is sometimes made into a national media frenzy and becomes a story of its own, a la Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.

I know there are some readers who watched the Houston funeral on TV. I didn’t, but I heard from acquaintances that there was enough drama to fuel a full season of “Real Funerals of Newark County,” with a little left over for a made-for-TV movie.

Whitney’s ex-husband Bobby Brown showed, but left early after a seating snafu caused problems. 

Rumor has it that Aretha Franklin, Houston’s godmother, was asked not to come by Whitney’s mom after she made some not-so-kind comments on the Today show.

Streamed on the Internet and broadcast by television stations across America, the memorial service was a virtual cornucopia of the who’s who in Houston’s life.

And four hours after it began, the memorial service was over.

What a load of garbage. 

What will Houston be remembered for?

A beautiful voice, The Bodyguard, a pop-culture icon’s mandatory trips to rehab, an abusive husband and a drug-induced death.

Yes, it is sad. But what is even sadder is the world being emotionally torn up over the death of a drug addict, and yet there is almost no notice of another famous death just five days after Houston’s.

Gary Carter, Hall of Fame catcher, who played mostly for the New York Mets and the Montreal Expos, died from complications of something he couldn’t control: brain cancer.

Carter was the first Major League Baseball player with whom I ever identified. 

I played catcher in Little League and all through high school, and he quickly became my hero, because he played the position.

He was with the Mets when I became a fan, and was part of the World Series Championship team in 1986. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2003, after just six years on the ballot.

One of the iconic photographs from his World Series win is of him running across the field with his glove on one hand and his mask in the other, celebrating victory. What I wouldn’t give to photograph an athlete with the same work ethic and class as Carter.

Known as “Kid” because of his childlike enthusiasm on the field, Carter was a perfect example for me, as a young baseball player. 

Carter formed the Gary Carter Foundation to help increase literacy in underprivileged youth, and donated over $600,000 to schools in Florida that are Title I schools where more than 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

So let’s have a four hour memorial service for Gary Carter, baseball player extraordinaire, and hero to so many.

Wait! That’s right! He wouldn’t have wanted a big deal made out of his death. He would have wanted people to remember his life and give even more in his memory than he gave in life. 

Gary Carter was 57 when he died.

RIP Gary.

 

 

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