Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Gary Carter Showed Drew Klavan How to Play the Game


In the Wall Street Journal today, a moving, exquisite tribute to baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter, who last week died of brain cancer at 57. The author, Ricochet’s own Andrew Klavan:

I can’t really say how serious I was when I began to contemplate suicide. But I remember one night, sitting alone in my room in darkness, smoking cigarette after cigarette as I considered the ways in which I might put an end to myself.

The radio was on, playing a Mets game. I’d been trying to listen before the dark thoughts took over. By the time the ninth inning came around, I wasn’t paying attention at all.

One sentence ran through my mind again and again: “I don’t know how I can live.”

Before I knew it, the game had ended and Carter—who apparently had beaten out a grounder to reach first base—was giving a postgame interview. The interviewer asked him how he managed to outrun the throw when his knees were so bad from years of playing catcher, squatting behind home plate.

Carter was a devout Christian with just the bright, inspiring Tim Tebow sort of personality our media can’t stand. He was forever thanking Jesus Christ in postgame interviews. He once remarked that he could see the smiles curdle on the faces of unbelieving journalists when he did it, but he felt he had to tell the truth.

I was not a Christian then—not yet—and if Carter had preached religion at that moment, it would have gone right past me. But he didn’t. He said something else, something much simpler but also true. I don’t remember the words exactly but a fair translation would be this: “Sometimes you just have to play in pain.”

Carter’s words somehow broke through my self-pitying despair. “Play in pain?” I thought. “Hell, I can do that. That’s one thing I actually know how to do.”

I had been looking for answers but I didn’t know the answers. I had been looking for solutions, but solutions were for another day. It hadn’t occurred to me that maybe, for now at least, the only way to go on living was to do like the great athletes do and just tough it out….

No one can demand that celebrities live well, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask them to behave well and be a little bit careful about what they say and represent. They are role models whether they like it or not. And someone might be listening to them in the dark.

So goodbye, Kid. And thanks. You did it the way it ought to be done.

There are 13 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    Well said, Andrew. And welcome back from the edge. RIP Mr. Carter. See you on the other side.

    • #1
    • February 23, 2012, at 1:44 AM PST
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  2. flownover Inactive

    That was great stuff and shame on Andrew for smoking when he was so young.

    • #2
    • February 23, 2012, at 1:58 AM PST
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  3. HVTs Inactive

    A touching tribute from a man brave enough to admit weakness and strong enough to seek salvation. Well done!

    • #3
    • February 23, 2012, at 3:10 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Southern Pessimist Member

    As a lifelong Braves fan it was hard to like Gary Carter. It was easy to disparage his enthusiasm for showboating. This piece has changed my mind. Sometimes playing through pain is the best you can do.

    • #4
    • February 23, 2012, at 4:25 AM PST
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  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    I don’t remember the words exactly but a fair translation would be this: “Sometimes you just have to play in pain.”

    Carter’s words somehow broke through my self-pitying despair. “Play in pain?” I thought. “Hell, I can do that. That’s one thing I actually know how to do.”

    Even when you know how to do it, it does help to have your knowledge refreshed by a surprise from outside yourself every now and then, doesn’t it?

    Very moving, Andrew. Thanks.

    • #5
    • February 23, 2012, at 5:54 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Profile Photo Member

    Drew you old storyteller. You brought a tear to my eye, and that ain’t easy. I’ve got a 20-year-0ld daughter with Osgood Schlatter’s, who also happens to be a little bit of an obsessive soccer player, who plays both striker and keeper. Many games I’ve seen her, since her tweens, come home and ice her swollen knees, moaning in pain, but happy as a clam because she scored twice, or had a good half in goal. Or also nursing the inner aches from a game that could have gone better — and rebounding the next game with knees freshly girded for another round of torture.

    And I thought of going back to work to teach a week after my wife passed away. There’s something there that connects, and you’ve got the keen eye to see it.

    Thanks bro.

    • #6
    • February 23, 2012, at 6:34 AM PST
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  7. KC Mulville Inactive

    You know, Drew, you might want to think about writing for a living.

    • #7
    • February 23, 2012, at 8:14 AM PST
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  8. Gus Marvinson Inactive

    Well done, Andrew. RIP Gary.

    • #8
    • February 23, 2012, at 12:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Doctor Bass Monkey Inactive

    Wonderful tribute to an inspirational man. Of all the members of that 86 Mets team, Carter was the last one I thought would be the first to go. RIP Kid, you can finally play without pain.

    • #9
    • February 23, 2012, at 12:47 PM PST
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  10. Doctor Bass Monkey Inactive

    By the way, the broadcast team for the Mets have put together this shirt as a tribute to Gary with all proceeds going to a hospice which cares for the terminally ill.

    • #10
    • February 23, 2012, at 12:57 PM PST
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