Montreal is formally honoring former Expos great Gary Carter with a ballpark dedication and a street renaming near Jarry Park.
Carter is arguably the greatest former Expo — apologies to Andre Dawson and Vladimir Guerrero — especially when you considered how hard Carter worked on the fine art of community service. He was an Expo during the bad times and returned for the final year of his career. His passed away too soon because of brain cancer on February 2012, at the age of 57.
His legacy was recognized with the formal dedication of a ballpark at Ahuntsic Park, with wife wife Sandy and his daughter Christy throwing out the first pitches.
Friends of Carter and those who watched him play the game recounted his childlike enthusiasm for baseball. They spoke of a man who couldn’t contain his beaming smile on and off the field, of a player who never turned down an autograph request and of a teammate who celebrated everyone’s success as though it were his own.
“I remember hitting my first home run at Olympic Stadium and it took awhile because I’m not much of a home-run hitter,” said former Expo Warren Cromartie, who played alongside Carter for eight seasons. “When I came to home plate Gary was waiting for me, going crazy. He picked me up and hoisted me in the air. … He was a joy to play with.”
Cromartie is spearheading the Montreal Baseball Project, which aims to bring back professional baseball to the island. He said the enthusiasm behind the project is fuelled in part by the “spirit of Gary Carter.”
There will be a second memorial to Carter: a section of Faillon Street next to Uniprix Stadium — the former Jarry Park rebuilt as a tennis stadium — will be named for Carter as well.
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