Archive for the ‘Gary Carter’ Category


I was a kid. A 13 year old entering into some of the most confusing years of my life. Arm issues left me incapable of playing sports and a crippling shyness left my unable to do much else. At 43 it is weird to look back at 13 and say I was lost in the world. I had barely taken any steps at all in this world at 13, but somehow, that is what I felt. Lost. Confused. Lonely.

Then came the Boys of Summer…Mookie, Keith, Darryl, Doc and Nails. Ray, Jesse and, of course, Gary “The Kid” Carter. However, more importantly than all of them, there was my Mom…but I’ll come back to her in a minute.

As the Cubs and Indians take the field for Game 1 of the World Series, I’ll be quietly marking a very special day for me. A day that I think about every year at this time, especially, but also a day that I think about year round. For those that know me well enough, they know it is a sacred day for me.

It has been 30 years since a ball hit by Mookie Wilson rolled through the legs of Bill Buckner, allowing Ray Knight to score and giving the Mets one of the most improbable wins in World Series history. It’s a game known simply as Game Six to Mets fan and every year, when October 25 shows up on my calendar, I pause to reflect on the impact it had on my life.

While it would be my dad that would teach me about the nuances of baseball and it’s history, my passion for the game came from my mom. She was the one that turned on the radio in the car just in time to hear Shea Stadium in bedlam just after Darryl Strawberry hit a home run against Bob Knepper and the Astros during the NLCS. It was my mom who would come running out of the house, yelling and screaming, later that day to drag us in the see the Mets celebrating after Lenny Dykstra hit a two run home run to give the Mets a walk-off home run. It was my mom who still insisted that we watch game three of the World Series from the very beginning, despite the Mets being behind two games to none and in Boston, and boy did she cheer when Nails led off that game with a homer.

When Dave Henderson hit that home run to put the Mets behind in the 10th inning of Game Six, my heart absolutely sunk. When another run crossed, I knew I didn’t know much about baseball at the time, but I knew that was not good. When Wally and Hernandez made their outs, I think it was just my mom and I left watching in the living room. I sat in the corner of the couch, with my fist over my heart. I could feel it beating quickly and I could feel my palms sweating. However, at this point, a calmness had washed over me. Sometime while my first childhood hero, Gary Carter stood at the plate, I got a sense that I just knew the Mets were going to win. I am sure there are millions of fans in Boston that felt they needed the Red Sox to win, but I knew I needed the Mets to win and I knew they were going to win. Maybe it was ignorance of the game or maybe it was just the Mets fan waking up inside of me, but I had no doubt the were going to win. And, certainly, the Kid wasn’t going to make the last out.

And when that tricky little roller down the first base line went past the bag and got by Buckner, I sat quietly still with my fist still over my heart thanking God for this miracle. My mom, on the other hand, literally was standing on the other end of the couch, jumping and dancing and yelling.

To most, it is simply a baseball game. To older Mets fans, it was the second greatest thing to happen to this team. To most of us post-1969 Mets fans, it is still the single greatest moment to ever occur in a baseball game. To me, it was a moment that changed my life forever.

It is a moment that cemented my love of baseball and the Mets. Other moments earlier in the playoffs were the sparks, but that moment was what locked it in. The whole course of my life was tied to that crazy bouncing ball. If the Mets lost that game, the heartbreak likely snuffs out the sparks of the earlier moments and I don’t fall in love with baseball. If I don’t fall in love with baseball, I am left still looking for my passion. If I don’t have my passion, I don’t become inspired to write. I don’t write and I never find my confidence and I don’t find a sword to battle my shyness. High school becomes more difficult and lord knows where I end up in college, but I doubt it would have been York college, and even if it was York College, I likely drop out after a semester because I never find my voice to continue to battle the self-doubt that gnaws at me constantly. Without York College then I have almost nothing that I have now…Andrea, my two boys, my job, my life as I know it.

Without that rally 30 years ago, there is no doubt I become a different person. One that is more skeptical and less full of hope. I am an eternal optimist in all aspects of life as a result of that night, believing that miracles can and do happen every day. I have wonderful memories of great friends and moments from the days when I worked for the Orioles and Mets. I have a NLCS Championship ring. I have a completed first draft of a novel based on my love for this game. I have Andrea and the boys and a job I like. Without Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson and my mom dancing on the end of the couch, my life would be very different than it is now. And while there are so many other moments that steered me to this moment, it was Mookie Wilson’s ground ball that put me on the road.

So, on Tuesday, while I’ll be disappointed that it isn’t my Mets playing in game one, I’ll frequently remember how Game Six forever changed and I’ll make sure to say a prayer of Thanksgiving for all the blessings in my life the began somewhere behind the bag at Shea Stadium


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Gary CarterA team, a dream, one piece more to greatness;
Lost in baseball’s desert, promised land sought.
Power and grace, more myth than man – fates bless;
Solid, steady as rock, from fire he’s wrought.
New life, new team as heart to hope is brought.
A starved city rises up to it’s feet.
This man, this myth, his Kid spirit is caught;
Legend expands: first game arch-rivals beat.
Then it explodes: steals from series defeat.
Father to three. Husband to one. Champion to all.
A man who touched all in his life’s heart beat,
And mourned by all when his Lord came to call.
Hero in life when I was just a kid,
Hero in death…Forever miss the Kid.

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After nearly two years of inactivity (sitting on third, if you don’t mind a bad joke), I’m back with this blog.  I’ve changed the platform it is on as well as the look, and I look forward to the fresh start that a new season brings.  I’m also going to give the short daily poems for each game another try, I just don’t know what form they will take.  It may be haiku’s again or maybe the epic poem or I might try something new with 140 character Twitter poems.  Maybe I’ll mix it up.  But, I have a few weeks to sort that out.

This year, I will also be searching high and low on the internet and link to other fans stories or poems.  They may not all be about the Mets, but they will be about baseball.

I feel that I need to begin (start anew) with where my love of baseball was cemented…A single to left field off the bat of Gary Carter in Game Six of the 1986 World Series.  Gary Carter was always my favorite player growing up and I wrote this tribute just after he passed away, on another blog.

When I first heard of his passing, the first thing that came to mind is a poem titled “Game Called” by Henry Grantland Rice.  Originally written in 1910, he re-wrote it in 1948 as a tribute to Babe Ruth when he passed away.  I felt it is appropriate for Gary Carter.

Both beautifully written versions can be found here and the 1910 version is below.

Game Called.
Across the field of play
the dusk has come, the hour is late.
The fight is done and lost or won,
the player files out through the gate.
The tumult dies, the cheer is hushed,
the stands are bare, the park is still.
But through the night there shines the light,
home beyond the silent hill.

Game Called.
Where in the golden light
the bugle rolled the reveille.
The shadows creep where night falls deep,
and taps has called the end of play.
The game is done, the score is in,
the final cheer and jeer have passed.
But in the night, beyond the fight,
the player finds his rest at last.

Game Called.
Upon the field of life
the darkness gathers far and wide,
the dream is done, the score is spun
that stands forever in the guide.
Nor victory, nor yet defeat
is chalked against the players name.
But down the roll, the final scroll,
shows only how he played the game.

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Hope Street

My mother always started the story the same way: “More often than not in baseball and in the real world, hope is not rewarded. However, in those moments when hope is rewarded, all the heartbreaks and shattered dreams become worth it. Hope can be difficult and hope can scar your soul when it doesn’t bear fruit. But when hope bears forth its fruit, there is nothing in the world that compares to it.”

At 3:58 p.m. EST on October 3, 1951 my mother was sitting with her father listening to Russ Hodges on WMCA when her perspective on baseball, and maybe even life, would be changed forever. At that moment, Hodges would shout out through the airwaves “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!”

She loved to tell that story. The 1951 season was, by far, her favorite baseball season. She learned most of what she knew of hope that season. Even though the Yankees ultimately won the World Series, she had never been prouder of her Giants. On August 11 of that year, they trailed the Dodgers by 13-1/2 games. They rallied to force a three game playoff for the National League pennant, setting up Bobby Thompson’s home run. The newspapers had given up the Giants for dead in August, but my mother refused to give up hope. She believed in real life miracles and believed the Giants would prevail in the end.

She would carry with her the following newspaper quote from Red Smith about the game: “Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.”

Hope, she learned, can’t force a miracle to happen. Hope, as for many Dodger fans, including my father, could break your heart and scar you for life when the miracle doesn’t happen. However, when hope is rewarded, especially in a manner such as this, your life changes. Mom saw life differently after that summer. She would never lose hope, regardless the situation. Whether it was with the 1951 Giants or when my father nearly died in 1973. Hope gives you strength and gives you the power to see the light through the trees. My mother never gave up, regardless of the situation, and that gave strength and hope to everyone around her.

I learned about hope differently…I was a Mets fan in the 1960’s…hope didn’t come naturally…hope didn’t seem to have any place with some of those teams. They were easy to love, or at least I thought, but not really easy to spend hope on. Like many other fans, I was excited by how well the Mets played early on in 1969. However, when they were more than nine games back, I had no hope that they could win the new N.L. East. Even after they would win it by eight games and then sweep the Braves in the N.L.C.S., I didn’t believe they could win the World Series…not against the Baltimore Orioles. After the Mets lost the first game, mom told me the story of the 1951 Giants for the first time. Her message wouldn’t stick, and I found I couldn’t enjoy the next couple of games as much. After the Mets won it all, I never lost hope again.

I had hope even as the A’s shortstop settled under Garrett’s pop up in 1973. I had hope even as I watched Seaver get traded away. I had hope even as Carter came to bat in Game Six in 1986. I had hope even as Pendelton’s home run disappeared in 1987. I had hope even when we were down two games to play with three to go in 1999. I had hope even after Snow’s home run against Benitez in 2000. I had hope even as Piazza’s ball came down short of the wall in 2000. I had hope even as the Phillies dominated the Nationals to end 2007. It doesn’t matter that most ended in heartbreak because it is Game Six and the Grand Slam Single and the sweep of the Pirates and Piazza’s home runs against the Braves that stay with me, not the heartbreaks. And, I know that those moments would be less sweet if I had lost hope.

No team knows about comebacks as well as the Mets. The Miracle Mets. They have made their own comebacks (1969, 1999) and have been the victim as well (2007, 2008). These are lessons of hope and why I refuse to give up. Today, July 31, 2009, the Mets are 9-1/2 back of the Phillies in the N.L. East and 6-1/2 games back of the Giants in the Wild Card and I still hold on to hope that they will make the playoffs. With Wagner, Beltran and Reyes on their way back and maybe Delgado…I believe they will make the playoffs.

Reality can, again, strangle invention.

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Written 5/22/2008 after a tough loss
Hi, my name is Tom and I am a Mets fan. They say the first step is to admit you have a problem. Well, I love the Mets. It started years ago…about 22 years ago, casually. I told myself it was no big deal and I could stop whenever I wanted to. I remember the first time I cheered for them, but it was no big deal. Then, they went and won the World Series and I was hooked. When Gooden got caught that last time, David Cone was traded and Vince Coleman threw that firecracker, I vowed to never invest my heart again. When Pendelton hit the home run in 1987, Mike S. in 1988 and Kenny Rogers threw ball four in 1999, I told myself, “Never Again”. By the time the ump said “Play Ball”, I was right back…Heart riding every pitch again.
On nights like this, I want to vowed off them again. I want to just say “No”. Then, I think of the Grand Slam Single and Gary Carter hugging Keith Hernandez towards the end of their Mets careers and Mike Piazza’s post 9/11 home run and the way Shea Stadium shakes when it is packed full of Mets fans and the Mets are rallying. I know that, despite the disappointment I feel tonight, hope will spring eternal again when my Mets take the field tomorrow. That’s what’s great about baseball. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to redeem yourself. Even if they never win again, I know, I will still follow them, waiting for that next win and waiting for that hight that goes with it.
My name is Tom and I love the Mets.

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