It seems odd now that when I was a kid, I didn’t actually like “The Kid.”
But Gary Carter was a Met. That meant he was pretty much always beating the Cubs, and then smiling about it the whole damn time. More than anything on the field, it was that smile that stuck out at the time. From the opposing perspective, it seemed like a perpetual taunt.
With the perspective of time and adulthood added into the picture, I know realize Carter’s grin was really perpetual bliss. If anyone has ever enjoyed playing baseball more than Gary Carter, it certainly never showed.
As we are seeing in the outpouring of sadness after his death at age 57 to brain cancer, few people seem to have enjoyed being around someone more than Gary Carter. He is an absolute beloved figure in both Montreal and New York — in Montreal for being the Expos’ first true superstar, and the first inducted into the Hall of Fame; in New York for being the catalyst to the Mets’ 1986 World Series victory with crucial plays against the Astros in the NLCS and Red Sox in the World Series.
For everyone, there is a personalized tinge of sadness to add to it. For Expos fans, there is the pain of fading further away into obscurity as their favorite players continue be the ones which they can only remember rather than see on the field.
For Mets fans, memories of the good times now seem even farther away as the current organization slogs through the complete morass it has become.
And for the rest of us, there is the realization that youth has no permanence — The Kid is dead.
Long live The Kid.