Thursday, February 16 was just another day to me. It was a typical day at Southeast Missouri State University that was composed of two classes, 45 minutes of debate, and mostly laughter on the hit specialty show, Afternoon Entertainment. After the always giddy show ended, I made my way back to my dorm to do some much needed laundry. After washing and placing my clothes in the dryer, I flipped on the T.V. and flipped to ESPN where a breaking news headline caught my attention. After reading it, a sense of semi-sadness sank in, for at that moment, one more piece of history was lost that belonged to one simple and millions of fans across the nation.
The headline that appeared at the upper left hand corner on the screen told of the passing of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter who had unfortunately lost his battle with brain cancer after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011. Carter had a good career offensively speaking for a catcher, but will be remembered most for what he did on October 25, 1986. Carter started one of the most famous rallies by singling with two outs in the bottom of the tenth in Game 6 of the 1986 Fall Classic between Boston and New York as the Mets trailed 5-3 and 3-2 in the Series. The Mets ended up winning 6-5 thanks to Bill Buckner's blunder and won the series the next night. That was part of Carter's finest moment as a player, as he hit .276 with 9 RBIs in the series, including two homers that sailed over the Green Monster. People will forever link Gary Carter to the 1986 World Series.
The passing of Carter means that another hero to another generation of baseball is lost to the ages, which itself is the sad part. That was the feeling that I got as I read the headline as the damp clothes tumbled around in the dryer. No more can we hear Mr. Carter retell that famous autumn evening in the Big Apple. Carter's death brought me back to the deaths of two famous ballplayers, Duke Snider and Harmon Killebrew who died over the past year and who were larger than the game. While hearing about the deaths, it saddened me that no longer could we hear about Killebrew and Snider's love for the game, no longer could we hear Snider telling how he was the Duke of Flatbush or listen to Killebrew talking about being the Gentle Giant of Bloomington, Minnesota and see their faces light up when they talked about the game and the way they brought joy to millions of fans across the states. That's the saddest part of losing legends.
The three gentlemen I talked about won't be the first icons to pass nor will they be the last, but as a baseball fan, it's always sad to see someone of their statue slip the bonds of Earth. It's sad to see a personality of the game depart for the next life. It's sad to see part of a generation go but hopefully not be forgotten. Millions of fans my age and younger who call themselves fans of the game may not have heard of people like Snider or Killebrew, or maybe of Gary Carter, which is the saddest part of all. Go and find out what their generation of the ol' ball game was like. Doing that will make you have a greater appreciation for the game and the heroes that span the decades.