When I was 12, I didn't know that catchers aged like ... like ... large men who had to do deep-knee bends hundreds of times every day for several years while wearing heavy equipment. I just knew that Gary Carter was a catcher and that he was awesome. So when the Giants signed him before the 1990 season, I was a little giddy.
He did just fine for the Giants that year, but he couldn't pitch, so he didn't get to help the Giants back to the World Series. A search through the New York Times archives brings back news of his signing:
''I only called the teams I thought would have a strong possibility of being interested in me,'' he said. ''I didn't call the Giants, because I figured they were set with Terry Kennedy and Kirt Manwaring.''
Carter recalled: ''Al asked (agent) Dick (Moss), 'Is there anything I can do to change your proposal?' When Dick said no, Rosen said, 'I accept.' ''
Now that's some fancy negotiatin'. Giants fans don't have the decade of memories that the people in Montreal do, nor did we watch a stunning World Series victory with him playing a crucial role, but he was still a Giant for a year. Even the fact that he was a Dodger the next year doesn't ruin that.
When you grew up in the '80s as a fan of the National League, you knew that there was Gary Carter at the top of the catcher hierarchy, and then there was everyone else. Rest in peace, Gary.