We Have Lost The Kid, Gary Carter.

This one really hurts. The 1986 Mets are a big part of my psyche. I was 8 years old and it was my first year following baseball. That team was filled with colorful characters having colorful adventures as they dominated the National League in the regular season and then staged dramatic comeback after dramatic comeback throughout the playoffs and World Series—culminating with possibly the single most celebrated come from behind win in Series history. Every game was so epic. Every win and every loss was so memorable.

That team is so fundamental to my understanding of baseball that they are essentially the Platonic Form of The Baseball Team in my mind and heart. Gary Carter is the Form of the Clean Up Hitter and the Form of the Catcher. He was also the veteran, the leader, the missing piece, the new hope, and the big acquisition who led off the 1985 season with an inspiring game-winning homerun in his first game as a Met. He personally epitomized more than anyone else the 1986 team’s infectious fire and enthusiasm and pure love of play. I can’t ever watch footage of Kid without fondly remembering being a kid and assuming that life was just a series of come from behind wins and World Series championships. I can’t watch Gary Carter as an adult without being vividly struck by how uniquely he modeled what it looks like for an adult to do grueling and rewarding work with the energy and ecstasy of a kid.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • jws1

    If Buckner makes that play, how does that change things for you, do you think?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Well, the game would be tied and go on to more extra innings, so there would still be hope!!!

      The truly ecstatic moment was Bob Stanley’s wild pitch that let the tying run score after Mookie fended off numerous pitches with foul balls, each one with our hearts in our throats fearing it would be strike three.

    • jws1

      Funniest sports-related T-shirt ever:

      “Hey Boston, there really was no curse. Your teams just sucked for all those years!”

      I’m not a hater, but I do find that funny.

    • kdan59

      It was indeed a nerve-wracking at bat. Mookie struck out way too much for someone who didn’t hit a lot of homers. In fact, he struck out nearly three times as often as he walked. But he just refused to go down and gave us one of the best at-bats in history.

    • Slaughter

      OK, they ruled that a wild pitch, but that was a passed ball by Rich Gedman if I ever saw one. And I don’t know that Buckner would have beaten Mookie to the bag as deep as he was — and if I recall correctly, Stanley was late to cover first. I saw Mookie in the replays but not Stanley.

  • jws1

    Wait a sec; are we talking about baseball? A nineteenth-century pastoral game (thank you Carlin)? Football is the sport, not game, of our time that speaks most directly to who we are: war-like, domineering, controlling of territory (or, failing that, resources).

    I see your Gary Carter and raise you a Walter Payton.

    • ‘Tis Himself, OM

      Carlin explained the difference between baseball and football quite succinctly:

      In football, the object is for the quarterback, sometimes called the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack which may consist of power plays designed to punch holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

      In baseball, the object is to at home, safe.

      May you be safe at home.

  • http://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/ Verbose Stoic

    There might be even more memories for people in Montreal, and Canadians, since he was an Expo first, a team that now, well, isn’t anymore [grin].

  • anthonyallen

    I remember watching Carter when the Expos won the NL East title in 1980(ish). I felt so betrayed when he went to play for the Mets.

  • P Smith

    Thirty years on, Black Monday still sticks in my craw, a fact made worse because my team – the Expos – no longer exists. (The Washington Numbskulls are not my team.)


    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Gary Carter whose numbers were always good. I blame Steve Rogers, who ate up innings and wins in less crucial games but cracked under serious pressure.

    Carter made a serious effort to fit in when in Montreal, even going so far as to learn French and communicate with the media and fans in the language as much as possible. When he left Montreal, I reacted the same way Boston Bruin fans did when Ray Bourque went to Colorado, thinking “Good luck to him”. But I was disappointed (not angry, not disgusted, just disappointed) when he said he wanted to go in the baseball hall of fame as a Met, not an Expo.