So, I was going to revive FanPost Fridays last week, and then the day went by and I didn’t get around to it.
Now, I can’t find something that interests me enough to write about it, so let’s make it FanPost Monday. I mean, I think it’s great that Cleveland is getting rid of their ugly logo, though I can’t understand why it takes two year to do so. But I can’t imagine writing 500 words about it.
You assignment, if you choose to take it, is to tell us about your childhood baseball hero. The player to who you owe a large percentage of you budding baseball fandom.
For me, of course, it was Gary Carter.
When I was young, Gary was the best player on an Expo team that would go on to have several great players. Unfortunately, for him and me, they would also have crappy players to balance things out.
Carter....he had fun. He smiled. Many of his teammates felt he smiled too much and always for the cameras, but I liked that he smiled. I liked that he had fun. I thought I love playing sports, I enjoy every minute. My friends and I would get up early and play something before school, then would play at lunch, then after school, have supper and get back out there until it was too dark to play. I always figured profession athletes should love it as much as I did. He wasn’t always loved by his teammates, he could be a bit of a ‘goody two shoes’, non-drinker, didn’t party, just did his work and went home.
And Carter was the best catcher in baseball for a long period. He had power, a good average, he’d take a walk, he wasn’t slow on the bases and he was great defensively. He had a really good arm. I thought he called a good game, the Expos had several pitchers who seemed to get better when they joined the team. I remember hearing people complain that Gary called too many breaking balls, saying he didn’t hit them well so he figured no one else could, but pitchers did well with behind the plate.
He played every day. He caught 159 games in 1984. He played over 150 games several seasons. I’m sure it helped along his knee problems later in his career.
Carter figured in two of my worst moments of my life as a baseball fan.
Blue Monday...When Rick Monday hit a home run, in the 9th inning of game 5 of the 1991 NLCS beating the Expos. It was in the top of the 9th. Carter, in the bottom of the inning, took a two out base on balls, giving me a moment of hope and then Larry Parrish walked. More hope. But Jerry White ground out to end the game.
(As an aside Montreal Expos historian Danny Gallagher is coming out, later this year with a book about the 1981 Expos called Blue Monday: The Expos, The Dodgers and the Home Run That Changed Everything. The book is now available for pre-ordering: at http://chapters.indigo.ca . An e-book version is also available at at http://amazon.com ).
The second worst moment, Carter was traded to the Met for the relative equivalent of a couple of bags of baseballs. I remember it happened during Monday Night Baseball and Howard Cosell read the deal and said ‘we must be missing something, they must have gotten more for Carter than that’. Nope. For the record, the Expos received Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.
The Expos, as a lot of bad sports franchises do, blamed their best player for the team falling short each year. It wasn’t the terrible players in the middle of the infield that caused them to lose. Nope. It was the All-Star catcher.
Anyway, when I got my first part time job and had a bit of money, I bought a Carter Expo jersey. Back then, it was pretty unusual. I remember getting teased about it. And I modeled my batting stance after him (it wasn’t all that interesting, he had a pretty normal stance, but Carter hit that way, so I did too. It didn’t help me.).
And, years later, I got to meet him and get an autograph. I don’t have a lot of autographed baseballs, I tend to think it isn’t something a grown up should be excited about. But I needed to get Carter’s. He was very nice, very friendly, just the way you would hope he would be.
I had other players I liked, but Carter was always the top.
It is your turn. Tell us about your childhood baseball hero. Go here and get writing.