I was going to continue with Good News Friday like usual today, but the tragic deaths of two wonderful human beings Thursday forced me to shelve that idea. Each of them deserves to be thought about and appreciated today.
The first death that saddened me was that of Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher for the Mets and Expos. Carter was 57, and had been suffering from a brain tumor.
There’s no way to picture Gary Carter without thinking of his smile. It was enormous, room-filling, and so genuine. There might not have been a baseball player alive who enjoyed the game and showed it more than “The Kid.” He was the cornerstone of the 1986 Mets, and a catcher who played the game with verve, passion and a whole lot of skill for his whole career.
He was mocked, in the media and by his peers, for his “good-guy” persona, and he seemed too good to be true (he even wanted to take his wife on road trips, which in baseball circles is kinda like worshipping the devil).
But Carter was the genuine article, a decent man who enjoyed life and played the game the right way. He will be immensely missed. Two fabulous tributes to Carter I read Thursday night were this from SI’s superb Tom Verducci and this story from my buddy Pearlman in the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s video of Carter’s last hit in the major leagues, from September, 1992 with the Expos. The outpouring of love can be felt through the screen…
The second death I mourned Thursday night is a man who was legendary in my former profession as a journalist. To say Anthony Shadid was a foreign correspondent is like calling Einstein an inventor, or Michael Jordan an athlete. For three newspapers over 15 years, most recently the New York Times, Shadid saw the horrors of war up close, reported on them, and then wrote some of the most beautiful prose you can imagine.
So many people in journalism are great reporters. Others are great writers. It’s very, very rare for someone to be both. Shadid went into the worst places in the world and survived, putting names, faces and humanity into the stories of Iraqis, Afghans, and recently, Libyans. Only 43 years old, it is cruelly ironic that after surviving battlefields forever, he died of an asthma attack.
His friend Tyler Hicks, a world-class photographer and with whom Shadid had been kidnapped with last year, carried his body from Syria to safety in Turkey.
Shadid was a giant in the field, and his loss is a great one. Here is a story he wrote to win one of this two Pulitzer Prizes, here is his obituary from the N.Y. Times, and here is a link to some of his other “greatest hits.”
Gary Carter and Anthony Shadid. Two very different men, but both leave an immeasurable hole in the hearts of many.
**And now, a few happy thoughts. I’m on vacation for a week starting today, as the junior high I’m working at closes for mid-winter break (thank you, Presidents Lincoln and Washington for this holiday! The exhausted teachers of America salute you!).
College basketball is getting insanely exciting as it usually does in mid-February; Michigan State got a big win Thursday, my Duke boys pulled another David Copperfield act (seriously, this is the most bizarre Duke team of my lifetime as a fan), and Florida State pulled off another miracle, too. Can’t wait for March Madness.
And here’s a lovely gallery of people skating through the winter. These pictures hopefully will bring a smile to your face, as they did mine. They’re courtesy of Boston.com’s The Big Picture, a site I love and tout frequently on here.