Jul 08

Reggie Jackson Should Shut Up; Wally Backman Defends Gary Carter

It must have been frustrating for Reggie Jackson when he questioned the validity of several Hall of Famers, including Gary Carter. I mean, nobody had been talking to him lately and he was out of the limelight.

Several of Carter’s teammates, including Wally Backman, came to his defense.

“Who is he to question?” Backman told the Bergen Record. “At least Gary was a complete player. It’s unbelievable Reggie would criticize a great guy and great player who’s passed away. Show some respect.”


When it comes to respect to others, Jackson has no clue. He’s for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Backman is right in that Carter was a more complete – and team player – than Jackson ever was. Some players tend to rub people the wrong way and what I’ll remember first about Jackson is not the three homers in the World Series game against the Dodgers, but for his derogatory comments about Thurman Munson, him ignoring Billy Martin’s signs and for scuffling with Martin in the dugout at Fenway.

Among his other comments in Sports Illustrated, Jackson said: “I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice,  I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.”

Honestly, Puckett (3,000 hits), Sutton and Niekro (300 wins) are milestone stats that have meant automatic entry into the Hall of Fame. It’s the same way with 500 homers. Had Jackson hit 450 homers, would he be a Hall of Famer? I’m not so sure.

And, speaking of landmark honors, what about the Yankees’ retiring his number? Take away that World Series game and Jackson’s penchant for beating his own drum, it’s a reach to call him one of the great Yankees worthy of that honor.




Apr 20

Tom Seaver Wins His First On This Day In Mets’ History

Where did the time go?
SEAVER: Won the first of many on this day.

Forty-five years ago today in Mets’ history (1967), Tom Seaver won the first game of his Hall of Fame career in going 7.1 innings in a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

Seaver struck out five and was supported by two RBI from Bud Harrelson and one each from Ken Boyer, Tommy Davis, Ron Swoboda and Ed Kranepool.
Seaver went on to win over 300 games (his 300th was with the Chicago White Sox against the Yankees) and be inducted into the Hall of Fame, getting 98.84 percent of the vote, the highest percentage in history.
He’s the only Met in the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets’ cap and is the only player in franchise history to have his uniform number retired. Managers Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel had their numbers retired.
In the 50th anniversary of the Mets coming to being, the team will give away bobble head dolls of some of their greatest players, among them Seaver (this Sunday), Rusty Staub, Keith Hernandez, Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza.
I would have hoped they’d include Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry.

Apr 05

Very tasteful Opening Day ceremonies

Some teams can overdo their Opening Day ceremonies. Last night, for example, the Marlins went overboard. And, what was that monstrosity in their outfield? Looks like a giant fruit basket with flying fish.

Anyway, today was nothing like that at Citi Field.

They could have gone overboard on Gary Carter, but opted for tasteful. The Kid logo on the outfield, I don’t quite understand. Is it for this year only or forever? If forever, are they going to do that with every player who passes? Seaver, Straw, Doc or Keith? Just wondering.

There’s no doubt Carter was a great player, a Hall of Famer, but most of his numbers were compiled as an Expo, despite how we remember his days with the Mets. That’s one of the reasons why his number wasn’t retired.

Despite the long and uneventful – at least in terms of player acquisitions – I am hopeful for an exciting season.


Feb 17

What is a hero?

We use the words hero and great in sports to the point where they become cliche and lose their meaning and impact.

CARTER: Lived a life of inspiration.

Gary Carter was a baseball player, who made a good living playing a game most of us played as kids and only dreamed of having the fraction of talent he possessed. We cannot use the word “hero,” in describing Carter and any other athlete when compared to a soldier who saves his comrades in a firefight, or a policeman who risks his life in protecting a person from peril, or an act of unselfish bravery by a nondescript man who runs into a burning building to save a child or stands up to a thug in a subway while coming to the aid of a stranger.

Or a parent who goes through the daily grind to set an example of morality to his child.

Carter would be the first to say he’s not a hero or great when compared to those examples.

In reading over the past 24 hours of testimonials from teammates, opponents and fans who never met him we get a glimpse into the player and man who meant so much to so many. He came to many of us as an athlete, but captivated our imaginations and captures our respect with the intensity he played the game and the dignity and integrity in which he lived his life.

With his faith, his genuine goodness as a human being, and his compassion for others, he touched many in a way that went beyond his hitting and ability to handle a pitching staff.

With the way he lived his life, Carter molded the lives of an adoring family and inspired many he never met. The ultimate testament came from teammates who said they wish they led their lives as Carter did his.

In that way, he was truly heroic. It is said a man with friends is truly rich, and Carter was wealthy in which many of us can only dream.



Feb 16

Gary Carter passes away.

It is with great sadness I report Gary Carter passed away a little over an hour ago.

CARTER; Lived a full, loving life. Rest in peace.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 pm.,” daughter Kimmy Bloemers posted on the family’s website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know. He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus.”

Carter was diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, but several new tumors were found in January.

Carter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 after retiring in 1992. In 19 seasons, he hit .262 average, with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBI and was an 11-time All-Star.

“When you think of the great baseball field generals, you think Gary Carter,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said in a statement. “He ran the game from behind the plate with strong leadership and passion. The Kid’s contribution to our national pastime is big, but his heart was even bigger. We’ll always remember his caring way, ever-present smile and strong devotion to family, community and the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Carter was an integral member of the 1986 World Series championship team. He handled the pitching staff with a firm hand and was clutch when the Mets needed a hit with the game on the line.

The Mets just released this statement: “On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gary’s family — his wife Sandy, daughters Christy and Kimmy and son D.J.  His nickname ‘The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life.  He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field.  His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes.  He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

I’ll always remember Carter on the field as a clutch hitter, but off it I’ll remember his smile, his sense of humor and his accommodating nature to myself and other reporters. I always checked him on my Hall of Fame ballot and was pleased with he was finally inducted.

Rest in peace, Gary.