Gary Carter youth enthusiasm kid
Gary Carter youth enthusiasm kid_ Gary Carter was 57 years old when he died last week, but to those who mourned him Friday night, he was still The Kid.
That resonated throughout a 90-minute service at Carter's Christ Fellowship, where 1,137 friends, family and teammates remembered the Hall of Fame catcher's boundless enthusiasm for life, baseball, faith and eagerness to help others.
Carter, baseball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic and a Palm Beach Gardens resident for three decades, died Feb. 16 of brain cancer that was diagnosed in May.
Carter's clearly was a happy life, for adorning the stage, and every video tribute shown, were image after image, all of Carter bearing his famous grin.
"That 'Kid' smile," former teammate Tim Raines said.
Beneath that smile was a serious side that touched the lives of many who stepped on a baseball diamond with him, in addition to children benefiting from a foundation bearing Carter's name. Retired baseball stars and cancer survivors Darryl Strawberry and Andres Galarraga credited Carter with helping them through tough times. Strawberry, Carter's teammate on the Mets, said Carter was instrumental in helping him beat drug addiction through faith.
"I was young, I was naive," Strawberry said. "I thought life was going to go on forever. And Carter's personality was he never tried to force his faith on anybody, but he would always encourage you that God loves you.
"Gary has helped so many people. He's had a tremendous impact on my life and why my life has changed so much. He was one of the first ones to sit with my wife and tell her how proud he was of me, that I found my faith and I changed my life."
As profound as Carter's impact was on teammates, they knew they ranked behind Carter's family, including wife Sandy and children Christy, Kimmy and D.J.
"You could see when we came off the road, he would always be so happy, because he was going home to see his kids," Strawberry said. Joking, he added, "Most guys were miserable going home."
Carter's children took turned delivering a tribute to their father, with Christy and Kimmy recounting how he was beaming on both their wedding days. Like her father, Kimmy became a catcher, playing for Florida State's softball team.
"Of course, one of my first questions on my recruiting visit was, 'Is No. 8 available?' " she said, honoring, of course, the number Dad wore.
Pitcher Logan Thomas spoke on behalf of Palm Beach Atlantic's players, who attended in orange jerseys.
"I'd like to think 'Skip' is in heaven with other baseball greats," Thomas said. "I'd like to think that The Kid is preparing for another game of baseball and that he's starting behind the dish on another opening day. "Win another opening day game for us, Skip, and have a great season in your league. We'll miss you in ours."
Johnny Bench, another Hall of Fame catcher, also paid tribute.
"I'm going to miss that smile," Bench said. "I'm going to miss every part of Gary Carter, because of the way he was. I don't cry for you, Gary. I cry for me, because we miss you. We loved you so much. For those who knew him, no words are necessary. For those who didn't, no words are adequate."
Wally Backman tried anyway, saying without Carter, the 1986 New York Mets wouldn't have won the World Series. Backman called Carter "the most positive player I've ever been around," even when things looked bleak for the Mets in the World Series against Boston.
The Marlins were represented by Tommy Hutton, who delivered a eulogy, and fellow announcer Dave Van Horne. Gary Sheffield, a member of the Marlins' first championship team, said Carter's warmth explained why people were "flying in from all over the world" to pay respects. Sheffield came from Tampa to honor The Kid.
"It defines him to a 'T,' " Sheffield said of the nickname. "Kid. He's just a little kid. He's always smiling. He's having fun. He always had time for other people."