This is about a great player who was gracious, of sterling character, and the first Montreal Expo to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

I met Gary Carter as a result of a chance conversation with a colleague, Bob Robbins, who unbeknownst to me had been a major league pitcher.  We were at a corporate function in Malibu, dodged business as well as the fabled grunion run, and talked baseball.

Bob probed my baseball knowledge by asking my single favorite play. After contemplation I explained I had 2; one strategic and the other dramatic.  Both involved catchers:  the great Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds, and the second, Gary Carter of the Montreal Expos.

I described the Bench play but elaborated on the second, a flawless throw from right field by Pittsburgh Pirate Hall of Famer Dave Parker to Expo catcher Gary Carter defending the National League plate.  I termed Parker’s throw a “frozen rope” to Carter who made the inning ending out at the plate, tagging the California Angels’ Brian Downing, stealing home during the 1979 All Star Game.

Bob reassessed me, asking if I had ever watched Carter play.  I had lived in Montreal and assured him that I, like many fans, was drawn by the raw energy “The Kid” exuded.  If Gary Carter drew a walk, he ran all out to first.  He just made things happen, and his prowess swept Canada.  In Parliament, the Prime Minister of the day remarked, “I am certainly happy that I don’t have to run for election against Gary Carter.” – Pierre Trudeau.

About 3 weeks later my assistant came to my office door, “I have someone on the phone asking for you who claims to be Gary Carter”.  The rest is history.  As Gary and I chatted, he surprised me explaining that Bob Robbins was the reason that he was playing pro ball, as Bob had scouted him in California, recognized the talent and steered “The Kid” in the correct direction.

To gauge Carter’s true measure you only had to watch him function around youngsters after the game.  I had several opportunities to see Gary with one special needs boy named Mickey who waited at the exit gate.  Gary always remembered to have something like a card or a picture for Mickey who grew visibly in stature, eyes shining, hanging on to every word Gary uttered.

Gary performed inestimable benevolent works throughout the city of Montreal, lending his name and considerable energies to meaningful ventures, and in many cases worked actively alongside his wife Sandy in the community.  He proudly learned O Canada in French; such was his love of Montreal.  A quality man.

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