16 February, 2012

Gary Carter

   by Gus Ramsey

   I'm sure you are reading all over the place about Gary Carter, his effervescence, his joy of life and his wonderful baseball abilities. All of it is true. Nobody got more joy from his life on a daily basis than Carter, so in that respect I am glad for him and all who knew him, despite the sadness of his passing.
In lieu of trying to add anything to those story lines, I thought I would share a story about Carter that speaks to who he was.

   For many years I had the good fortune to produce the coverage of the baseball Hall of Fame inductions.
My favorite part of the weekend always came about 30 minutes before the induction ceremonies started. Two buses carrying the returning Hall of Famers, and the inductees, would pull in behind the huge stage where they would all sit for the ceremony. I would always jump out of the production truck when the buses rolled in and stand where I could see the best of the best walk off that bus. It has to be the greatest bus ride ever, right? I would've paid a lot of money to have a seat on that bus one time, to hear the stories and the digs and all that goes on.
   The bus door would swing open and here they would come, Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Sandy Koufax, Henry Aaron, Steve Carlton, Johnny Bench... One by one, the greatest the game ever saw, hopped off the bus, adjusted their ties, ducked under the entrance to the backstage tent and got themselves a drink.
   Fans were not allowed back in that area, and security pretty much kept everyone at a distance, so there was never any "hassling" of the Hall of Famers. The first year after Gary Carter was inducted, he walked off the bus, sunglasses on and a huge smile on his face as he stopped and looked around a little. A security guard said hello and Gary went over to the man and shook his hand. A few other stragglers, who had permission to be in the area, came over and Carter chatted them up. He stood there for four or five minutes, shook hands, smiled and made the others smile too. Again, I witnessed the Getting Off the Bus Procession seven times, and Carter was the only player I ever saw stop to say hello to a stranger.  At the time I remember thinking "He just can't help himself. He just has to talk to anyone who would listen." It was true, but in a much better way than I first considered. Gary Carter loved life, loved people and loved spreading his joy to anyone and everyone. It's one of the greatest gifts anyone can be bestowed or bestow upon others. After further examination that day, it occurred to me that Gary Carter might be the best of all the people who walked off the bus that day, just not in the way I had originally considered.

   R.I.P. Kid

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