Legendary Mets catcher Gary Carter finally succumbed to brain cancer this week. Gary was, of course, a member of the legendary ’86 Mets, and as I’ve explained before, that was actually a heartbreak season for me, because the Mets beat my beloved Astros in the playoffs before going on to beat the Red Sox in the World Series.
Still, the winter after that heartbreak, my family went down to Florida, and we visited some former members of my dad’s church in a fancy pants neighborhood down there. Well, Gary Carter was their neighbor. So I packed my many Gary Carter baseball cards and then just sorta waited around outside his house until he came out. Which he finally did.
It was probably the first time I was in the presence of someone famous, and it was intimidating, and although he wasn’t the friendliest guy in the world, he was mostly pretty kind to an annoying 14-year-old stalker.
He seemed to curate the cards he signed, and he ended up signing four of them (probably about half of cards I brought). It was like he wasn’t allowed to sign some for contractual reasons or because signatures devalued the cards (he collected cards, too). Who knows? I was way to intimidated to ask.
The part that must’ve been weirdest to Gary, at least in retrospect, was that while Gary signed baseball cards, my dad snapped photos. I need to dig up those photos. I have no idea where they are now. Ma, if you’re reading this, they’ll probably be among the photos from our Disney trip over 1987 New Year’s.
Thanks for the thrill, Gary. Your curls and yellow sweater from that day will always be burned in my brain. And I totally found the autographed baseball cards this morning. They’re from your days with the Expos, but I still like them a lot.