Friday, February 17, 2012
Faith fuels the Kid's indomitable spirit
That someone as seemingly indestructible as Gary Carter could succumb so quickly to the ravages of cancer is a grim testament to the insidiousness of the disease. What can never be destroyed is Carter's spirit, which defined him as a ballplayer and as a man.
Carter's ready smile and unbridled enthusiasm would have been insufferable were they not genuine. Unfortunately, some of his teammates snickered behind Carter's back about his media-and-fan-friendly ways, dismissing it as shameless self-promotion, but maturity and restrospect have a way of putting things in their proper perspective.
Wally Backman, who played with Carter in New York, recalls that the other Mets used to roll their eyes and complain about the team bus being held up while Carter signed autographs, but Backman says it eventually dawned on them that Carter figured out way before everybody else how to treat people.
Carter didn't have a lot in common with most of his teammates. He spent the bulk of his career playing with two teams that caroused with at least as much enthusiasm as they competed, whether it was the hard-partying Expos in Montreal or the high-living Mets in New York, but he never wavered from his own path as a clean-living, faith-driven family man.
The statement released by Kimmy Carter to announce her father's passing yesterday was at once heartbreaking and uplifting, and made clear that in their unflagging Christian faith, the Carter family and Carter himself found peace and comfort in the worst of times.
The merits of a Higher Power are a matter of personal conviction, which some people choose to deny for their own reasons, but if faith provides the reservoir of inner strength that will keep Gary Carter's indestructible spirit alive among the people who loved him the most, it doesn't matter what anyone else believes.