Talkin' Baseball With Gary Carter

At 15-13 on May 7, this is the latest in a season that the Washington Nationals have been above .500 since their inaugural season in 2005 when they were 17-13 on the same date.

By comparison, the Nationals didn't win their 15th game last season until June 2...and by that point, they were already 15-36 and 15.5 games back.

And since I’m calling them the “Washington Nationals”, I’m also reminded of the bitter pill that is Montreal, Canada without baseball.

Throughout my youth and early adulthood, there were always two teams in Canada…the one with a goofy logo on their cap and the Blue Jays. Of the two, I rooted more for the team with the goofy logo on their cap than the one that called Toronto home.

The Montreal Expos had limited success in their 36 years, reaching the playoffs only once back in 1981. But it was that very team that brought us some of the National League’s finest players of the ‘80s…Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson and Jeff Reardon.

So, instead of the normal Friday feature (spoiler alert…you’ll get Carter’s “Friday 5” next week), here’s me and “The Kid” talkin’ some baseball.

HOVG: Certain events in our lives shape the way we go about our business every day. What effect did your Mom’s passing when you were eight years old have on your childhood, playing career…and life in general?

CARTER: The loss of my Mom was a huge impact on my life as we were a very loving family that went to church regularly. I didn’t understand why a loving God would take someone away as dear as her. It helped me to understand how fragile life is. I asked Christ into my life in 1973 at age 19.

HOVG: You spent 12 of your 19 seasons as an Expo…what would it have meant to the city of Montreal for you, Tim Raines and Andre Dawson to have brought a World Series championship to Canada?

CARTER: It would have meant the world, maybe to the extent the team may not have ever moved. They are the city of Champions.

HOVG: Personally, what did going back to Montreal in 1992 and retiring an Expo mean to you?

CARTER: It meant a lot because that is where it all started. And now that “The Hawk” (Andre Dawson) is in the Hall of Fame, it’s nice to share the honor with him.

HOVG: You made it into the Hall of Fame on your sixth try…did Dawson ever call you for advice on how to handle the pressures of “will I make it in” or “won’t I”?

CARTER: No. I just kept encouraging him.

HOVG: This July, you’ll be on that stage in Cooperstown when “The Hawk” finally makes his way to Cooperstown. How long until Raines gets his call?

CARTER: It may be a long time or maybe never. He has good numbers but that is a tough call.

HOVG: You’ve had the privilege of playing under some of the game’s great managers…Dick Williams during your first couple of years in Montreal, Tommy Lasorda with the Dodgers and, of course, Davey Johnson while with the Mets. What are your thoughts on each?

CARTER: I enjoyed playing for each manager but of those three. Davey Johnson was the most fun. Dick Williams gave me the opportunity to play regularly and I was an extra player when I played for Tommy Lasorda.

HOVG: Williams and Lasorda are, obviously, Hall of Famers. This past winter, Davey Johnson fell well short of Cooperstown in what was his second appearance on the Veterans Committee ballot…does he belong in the Hall of Fame?

CARTER: I believe he does as he was successful at every place he managed.

HOVG: In recent years, we’ve seen you go from the diamond to the broadcast booth to, now, coaching. What influence did some of your previous managers have on you?

CARTER: I have taken a little something from each manager I played for and have tried to develop my own style.

HOVG: You’ve managed in the minors and now coached collegiately…is a job in the Majors in your future?

CARTER: Probably at this point, no, unless some great opportunity came along.

Gary Carter recently completed his first season as the head coach of the Palm Beach Atlantic University Men’s Baseball team. Under his leadership, the Sailfish finished the year 17-24…up from 10-36 in 2009.

Carter is regarded as one of the greatest catchers of his generation and has a laundry of awards to show for it. With eleven All-Star Game appearances (ten straight at one point), three Gold Gloves, a World Series ring and a plaque in Cooperstown…he’s accomplished about as much as anyone could ever want while in the Majors.

Carter’s charitable foundation is trying to do its part to get the tools for learning into the hands of disadvantaged youth so they, too, can accomplish everything they want. You can visit The Gary Carter Foundation online HERE.

This interview was done by fellow BBA member The Hall of Very Good.  Great stuff!  You can find Shawn's site here.  I have a signed baseball from Gary Carter.  Take a look: