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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.