Gary Carter, 57 years young, passed away February 16, 2012. The Hall of Fame catcher made quite an impression on me early in my career, not only via his amazing talent but also by way of his ever present smile and passion for the game. Gary Carter was baseball.
My first encounter with Gary was during spring training down in Sarasota Florida in March of 1985. 1985 was my “rookie year”, and needless to say, I was a bit nervous approaching stars like Carter, asking them to pose for me so I could take their Fleer baseball card picture. Posing players was a personal event. You couldn’t hide 100 feet way with a 400mm lens and make the picture. You had to interact with the player on a personal level, engage them in conversation and convince, coerce, or do what ever you could to get them to pose for you.
Working with professional athletes for the first time can seem intimidating. Whether or not this intimidation was real or perceived is debatable, but it sure felt real, especially to new photographers (as I was at the time).
When it came to working with Gary, my fears were unfounded. As I gingerly approached him and introduced myself, he quickly he made me feel at ease while posing for as many photos as I needed. Working with players like Gary Carter that gave me the confidence I needed to develop into a successful young photographer. Thanks, Gary.
A true Hall of Famer in every way, Gary Carter will be missed by all those who had had the privilege to share the same path.
An 11-time All-Star over an 19 year career, Carter was the player who, even when he beat you, you couldn’t really dislike. Everybody loved Gary Carter.
What I will miss the most is his smile. Even his Hall of Fame plaque makes mention; “An exuberant on-field general with a signature smile who was known for clutch hitting and rock-solid defense over 19 seasons”. Through his smile you could feel his love for the game.
RIP, Kid. Your passing creates a void in the world of baseball that will be difficult to fill. You were special.
Thanks for the memories.