Results tagged ‘ Gary Carter ’

Carter was truly an All-Star

By Craig Muder

It was the summer of my discontent, when baseball stopped.

For almost two months in 1981, I slept on the couch in our den – seemingly uprooted from my bed due to the cataclysmic work stoppage that rocked the National Pastime. I woke up each day and flipped on the TV (we had no access to ESPN back then, so it was the national networks) to see if the strike had ended.

Finally, on July 31, it was over. The season would resume after 713 games were canceled. And it would start with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

On August 9, baseball returned before 72,086 fans at Cleveland Stadium. Gary Carter was the hero.

Carter’s two solo home runs – one in the fifth that tied the game at one and another in the seventh that cut the American League’s lead to 4-3 – helped the National League prevail 5-4.

More importantly, it showed that baseball was stronger than any work stoppage.

I cheered for Gary Carter that day and his performance was rewarded with the All-Star Game MVP Award.

That season Carter’s Expos made their lone playoff appearance, thanks in large part to the Kid. Three years later, during one of the best seasons of his career – hitting .294 with 27 homers and a league leading 106 RBIs – Carter would again earn the All-Star Game MVP Award with another key home run.

To date, Carter is one of four players to receive the honor, joining Willie Mays, Steve Garvey and Cal Ripken.

He made baseball a better game – and the world a better place. He will be missed.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Kid in the Hall

By Jeff Idelson

I’ll never forget May 20th and 21st of 2011. 

I embarked on a 24-hour journey for an aspect of my job that is never comfortable and always sad: Attending a funeral.   

Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew had passed away in Arizona. After lunch with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and their wives, as well as Bob Nightengale, my friend with USA Today, I headed back to the airport to take a redeye flight home.

As I sat on the flight and drifted off, I wondered what else could happen. Harmon’s passing was the last of six Hall of Famers who had passed away in the last year: Robin Roberts, Sparky Anderson, Bob Feller, Duke Snider and Dick Williams.

As I de-boarded my flight in Newark to change planes that next morning, May 21st, my phone began to ring. It was The Kid, and I smiled. I always looked forward to conversations with Gary Carter because he was so positive, so uplifting and had a zest for life.

This time, the call was different. 

Gary explained that he had been inventorying equipment with his coaches for Palm Beach Community College, where he was the head baseball coach. He told me he had lost count a few times and even snapped at some of his colleagues, and he did not know why. Very uncharacteristic of the most positive person I had come to know in Baseball.

I immediately thought about what I had been reading, about the recent rash of concussions in football. “I bet you have a concussion from all of those collisions you took,” I quickly blurted out, as if I could solve the problem. Gary waited patiently for me to finish and said, “No, it’s actually four tumors wrapped around my brain.” And then he quickly added, “But I am not scared, because I have my family around me and I am going to beat this.” 

And that was the essence of Gary Carter.

He fought gallantly with his family by his side, at every step. He went to Duke Medical Center to learn more. It was actually one tumor with four tentacles. And he could not have surgery: His cancer was inoperable. 

Gary called the next day.

“It’s inoperable, which is going to make this a little bit tougher, but I’ll beat this,” he told me confidently. “I have my family and my faith and with that, we’ll get through this, Jeffrey,” he said. “I plan to be at Hall of Fame Weekend to see everyone.”

It never happened.

Gary was so generous of time and spirit. He traveled to Cooperstown for the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic over Father’s Day Weekend and then to Cooperstown a month later for the induction of Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog.  That would be his last visit to the place he adored so much and the Classic was the final time he participated in a baseball game. The fans adored him.

“Gary was so proud to be a Hall of Famer,” his widow Sandy told me on the phone yesterday afternoon after letting me know of Gary’s peaceful passing. 

And “proud” sums up the Kid so well. He was proud of wearing a major league uniform for 19 seasons, of being a Hall of Famer, of his family and his friends. 

We lost a good one yesterday. Rest in Peace #8. We miss you.

Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball  Hall of Fame and Museum.

Baseball Gene

By Bill Francis

Born and raised in Chicago, young Gene Walter was a fan of such Windy City legends as Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams. Recently, the former big league hurler visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to not only revisit his childhood but share his past with his family.

On his way to Boston for business from his home outside Louisville, Ky., Walter, a southpaw relief pitcher for four big league seasons (1985-88) with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners, made a stop in Cooperstown along with his wife and two young sons on Saturday afternoon.

“I definitely wanted to have the family visit Cooperstown and I wanted to get a chance to see it again,” said Walter, soon after he and his family checked out his clipping and photo files at the Hall of Fame Library. “Obviously being a baseball player your dreams at an early age involve one day being a member of the Hall of Fame, but certainly being a part of Major League Baseball was a great thrill and a great honor.”

Walter, who has worked as a financial planner since retiring as a professional player in 1993, made his only other Hall of Fame visit back in 1992 when he and a few teammates from the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, including future big leaguer David Weathers, made the trek on an off-day.

“It sends chills up your spine,” is how Walter explains his feelings when walking through the Cooperstown institution. “When you grow up watching the greats, and I grew up watching baseball in the late 1960s and early ‘70s before free agency when teams played together for long periods of time, those guys are special to me.”

A trio of Walter’s former big league teammates would end up with their bronze likenesses in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery.

“With the Padres, Tony Gwynn was a consummate professional and just a great teammate, Goose (Gossage) was a great competitor who just gritted his teeth and reared back and intimidated and basically threw the heck out of the ball,” Walter recalled. “And with the Mets, Gary (Carter) was someone who just loved being out on the field.”

Reflecting on his own playing career, which included a 4-7 won-loss record and 3.74 ERA in 128 big league games, Walter says it was just a great opportunity to get to the majors.

“There was nothing etched in stone that I’d play one day professionally let alone get to the big leagues,” Walter said. “I was the Padres last pick in ’82 and I had a hurt arm in college that year and was fortunate enough to get drafted. I was the 29th round pick for the Padres and their last, and I was the first guy to make it to the big leagues out of that draft with them. The only thing that was disappointing is that the arm didn’t hold up long enough to give me the opportunity to play as long as I wanted to play.

“When you reach the big leagues and have a certain level of performance, and that performance lasts a year and a half and then you have an injury and you’re no longer a major league pitcher it’s tough. But you battle and you try to hang in there,” he added. “You’ve got to love to compete, you’ve got to love to put that uniform on and go out there. At the end of my career I was better at working out than getting people out, and you can’t hang around a long time like that.”

Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Cys, Fourths, Hitters and Winners

By Trevor Hayes

Here we are, basically at the halfway point. Many point to the All-Star break as the halfway mark, though that’s not entirely true this season. Seventeen teams are slated to play their 90th game tonight. Baltimore has the fewest games played and tonight will be the Orioles’ 86th contest. Plenty of storylines are swirling with Albert Pujols’ injury, Derek Jeter’s quest for 3,000 and much more. Here’s how the last week has gone.

The Cy Young Returns: On Sunday, the Blue Jays 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay started in Toronto, wearing a Phillies uniform. The outcome was a complete game victory for Doc in his first start as an opposing pitcher since leaving the Jays. Halladay is the sixth former Cy Young to notch a complete game “W” in his first road start against the team for which he won the Cy Young Award. The others include: Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter as a Yankee a season after leaving Oakland in 1975; Tom Seaver after being traded by the Mets to the Reds in 1977; and 300-game winner Randy Johnson in 1999 as a Diamondback against the Mariners.

First-year Oriole mashers: Before this season, Frank Robinson was the only player to collect 20 home runs by the All-Star break in his first season in Baltimore. He had 21 in 1966, the same year he won the AL MVP Award and the Triple Crown. Robinson now has company as Mark Reynolds hit two home runs on Monday, giving him 20 before the break in his first season in Birdland.

Independence Day Fun: Vance Worley led the red-white-and-blue clad Phillies to a 1-0 victory on the Fourth of July. For fans in the city that is home to the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin, they can now claim a .500 record on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. With Hall of Famers from Chuck Klein and Mike Schmidt to Pete Alexander and Steve Carlton, in 201 July 4th games since 1883, Philadelphia’s record is now 101-100.

A fellow N.L. East red-white-and-blue team, the Nationals, also won on Monday. The team in the Nation’s Capital now sports a .633 winning percentage on the Fourth of July. At 31 wins and 18 losses, it’s the best mark for any team with at least 20 Independence Day tilts. Of course, the majority of the franchise’s wins came while playing in another country powered by Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Dick Williams – though as Les Expos de Montreal, they still wore red-white-and-blue uniforms.

Verlander matching Newhouser: Tiger All-Star Justin Verlander, who’s scheduled to throw again this weekend, has been dominant this season, especially so in his last eight starts. After Tuesday, he’s thrown at least seven innings and given up two-or-fewer runs in each of his last eight. It’s rarified air for Detroit pitchers. In 1945, future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser put together the only other streak like Verlander’s – a nine-game string en route to one of his two MVP Awards.

Youngsters walkin’ off: Mike Stanton became the third youngest player to hit a walk-off  home run when he went yard in the bottom of the 10th on Wednesday. At 21, Stanton’s game-winner gave Florida a 7-6 win over the Phillies. Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews is the youngest, when at 20-years-old he decided a game for the Boston Braves in 1952, also beating the Phillies. Fellow Marlin Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off homer in 1998 – also 21, but slightly younger than Stanton.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Eve of FanFest

By Lenny DiFranza

The All-Star Game is still five days away, but FanFest starts the entertainment tomorrow and baseball history will be there.

The Hall of Fame team is putting the finishing touches on our FanFest exhibit in Phoenix, luckily unimpeded by the remarkable dust storm that hit the city Tuesday night – a fast-moving wall of dirt that was reported as a mile high and a hundred miles wide! Safe inside the Phoenix Convention Center, the last pieces to go into place will be used for presentations.

The opportunity to explore the host city is one of the fringe benefits of working at FanFest. We’ve taken advantage of this trip by going to the Heard Museum, with exhibits demonstrating and interpreting the arts and cultures of the Native peoples of the Americas. It’s an impressive collection and inspiring for us to see how another world-class museum works.

We also visited the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center, a thriving studio, gallery and theater located just a block from the convention center. We’ll be bringing some new ideas with us when we return to Cooperstown.

For this year’s FanFest, we’re bringing some gems from our film archive, including highlights from the 1971 All-Star Game. Forty years ago, baseball’s best put on a memorable hitting display in Detroit, with six home runs by future Hall of Famers. We’ll also show highlights from the game 10 years later, 1981, when Gary Carter led the National League to victory. Another video program celebrates the Arizona Diamondbacks thrilling, seven-game defeat of the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

Our live programs include a hands-on review of the evolution of equipment, showing examples of the bats, balls, gloves and other “tools of the trade” that major leaguers have used over the game’s many years, and giving fans a chance to take a close look at the latest innovative equipment.

Our most popular live program returns this year: Hall of Fame Trivia. Fans can test their knowledge of baseball history, compete for prizes and have a lot of fun. If you are in the area for the All-Star Game, join the festivities and stop over and see the Hall of Fame team.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Old friends, different ball

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

They were teammates on the baseball diamond, working toward a common goal and sharing good times in the clubhouse.

Today, they are friends in retirement – enjoying a history that only they share.

It all comes together in Cooperstown.

07-24-10-Muder-Dawson.jpgThe annual Hall of Fame Invitational golf outing was played at Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown on Saturday morning, with more than 20 Hall of Famers and dozens more distinguished guests launching drives and dropping putts on the picturesque course next to Otsego Lake. Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog, who are set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday with Doug Harvey as the Class of 2010, got their first taste of Hall of Fame Weekend golf and loved every minute of it.

Dawson invited former Montreal Expos teammate Tim Raines to play with him, and Raines wowed his fellow golfers with some prodigious tee shots. But for Raines, the real excitement was just being in Cooperstown with his friend.

“He was a quiet leader, who led by example and I was one of the guys who jumped on his shirttails,” Raines said. “You think about how to play the game right, and you think about Andre Dawson.

“I am so happy his day has come.”

Herzog played the round with family members, while other power foursomes included a group with Frank Robinson, George Brett and Brett’s former teammate John Wathan and another with Gary Carter, Paul Molitor and former umpire Bruce Froemming.

“Whitey was a pain in the butt,” Carter joked when asked about Herzog. “We had some good battles. When you played Whitey’s teams, they were always tough.”

Their time on the diamond may be passed, but the camaraderie they created appears to be everlasting – especially at the home of baseball in Cooperstown.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Fun and games

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Seven Hall of Famers, heroes all.

They range in age from 55 to 91, but they remain kids at heart. And on Saturday – the day before the Father’s Day Hall of Fame Classic – they were all thinking about their dad.

06-19-10-Muder_VOG.jpgIn front of a capacity crowd of more than 500 fans at Cooperstown High School, the seven Hall of Famers who will appear at Sunday’s Hall of Fame Classic reminisced about their playing days and told stories about one another.

Bob Feller, Harmon Killebrew, Goose Gossage, Ozzie Smith, Rollie Fingers, Phil Niekro and Gary Carter brought the house down several times with one-liners – and drew applause when remembering their fathers.

“I think all of us on this stage remember when we played catch with our dads,” Smith said. “To be here in the Mecca of baseball on this weekend is very special for me.”

Just being around their former teammates and opponents was pretty special, too. The jokes flowed quickly from the stage – much to the delight of the audience.

06-19-10-Muder_Box.jpg“Phil, you better get some rest,” said Carter to Niekro when Knucksie was told he’ll be starting in Sunday’s Classic.

“Why?” deadpanned Niekro. “I never did when I played.”

After an hour, it was over – the legends were gone. To be continued on Sunday at Doubleday Field. Where the legends live forever.

“I’ve always loved it in Cooperstown,” said Gossage. “To be elected to the Hall of Fame and to play in this game, I still can’t put into words what it means to me.”

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers