From small things

Hall of Famer Gary Carter died today, shortly after being found to have inoperable, Stage IV brain cancer. He was 57 years old.

I hinted at this in an earlier post, but the most remarkable thing about Gary Carter’s career is that he started off maybe the best rally some people have ever seen. The Mets were behind by two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning (most people have forgotten the game was in extra innings) of Game six of the 1986 World Series. It looked so hopeless for the Mets that they briefly flashed a note of congratulations to the Red Sox on their scoreboard as Gary Carter came to bat.

With two outs, nobody on base, and the Red Sox needing to record one out to win the championship, Carter could have just thrown in the towel. He could have gone through the motions, and been remembered to history as the final batter retired for the season (and there’s one every year, isn’t there?). But he didn’t do that. Instead, he hit a single, which ignited the rally that carried the Mets to an improbable victory in the game, and then to the World Series title the next day.

That moment didn’t make Gary Carter into a permanent Met, the way Buckner’s error appears to have turned him into a Red Sox player forevermore. But it did earn him a place in the annals of Mets history, and the grief that is certain to come from Mets fans will be on a par with that of the Expos fans.

Thanks to Gary Carter for reminding us that a game, or a series, is not over until the final out has been recorded. Until then, anything can literally happen in a baseball game, and that’s one of the reasons I love the game as I do.

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