07/27/2003 6:35 PM ET
Carter dedicates speech to parents
Hall of Fame: Complete coverage
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Gary Carter will always be "The Kid" at heart, he told a gathering of 18,000 people seated in the rolling meadow behind the Clark Sports Complex on Sunday. But at 49 years old the body isn't as willing.
"It's nice to know that even though my body feels like an old man now, I will always be a kid at heart," he said as he concluded his Hall of Fame induction speech. "I love this great game. I'm so honored to be in Cooperstown as a Hall of Famer."
With that, Carter joined Eddie Murray as the newest inductees in baseball's most hallowed shrine -- the red-bricked edifice on Main Street in this hamlet by the shores of Lake Otesaga. Their plaques were hung in the gallery only hours after the ceremonies.
Carter, who starred for the Montreal Expos and New York Mets in his 19-year career, had to fight back tears several times as he accepted an honor he had long coveted. Carter's name was on the ballot six times before he was elected this past December by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He had to be selected by 75 percent of the voters.
Gary Carter's Hall of Fame plaque
The wait had its sad downside. Carter's father, Jim, died at 84 of congenital heart failure this past Jan. 25, just about one month after he was elected. When Carter was 12, his mother, Inge, passed away after a long bout with leukemia.
Carter became very emotional at the juncture in the speech he memorialized his parents.
"I've said to a lot of people that father's on my right shoulder today and my mom's on my left," Carter said, barely choking back tears. "I love my parents very, very much. I only had my mother until I was 12 years of age. But I always felt her presence throughout my career.
"My father, who inherited the responsibility of both parents, didn't have a mean bone in his body," Carter said. "He always had a smile for everyone. He was always there for me. He coached me in Little League, Pony League and American Legion and also supported me in any other sport I played, consistently encouraging me."
That death led to a traumatic time in Carter's family life, said Carter's older brother, Gordy, who was seated in the audience. Until then, they had been the consummate California family.
Gordy, four years his elder, ultimately became a role model to Carter.
"I had to step in when my mother died and act not only as Gary's brother, but his mentor," he said after the ceremonies. "It was quite trying for all of us."
Carter barely was able to get through the tribute to his brother and had to stop the speech as their eyes met. Gordy also appeared to be on the verge of crying.
"I thank you for being such an amazing role model to me growing up," Carter said, his voice cracking. "It meant so much to me that you would always allow me to play ball with you and your friends even if I did bug you all the time. You were the one who influenced me to always strive to do my best. I always tried to be your shadow and looked up to you in so many ways."
At a press conference after the ceremony, Carter still found it difficult when he began remembering that time in his life and the last years of his father's existence.
His dad's health had deteriorated to such a degree he had to be moved in 2001 to an assisted living facility.
"That was very devastating to him to have to make that transition," Carter said. "He had to move out of his home he had lived in and been a part of for 25 years and move into a place just to get his three meals a day and all."
Carter added that it was too painful to get into any more detail in front of an audience.
"In this case, talking about my dad was not easy," Carter said. "And I got through of it primarily because I know that he knows I'm in the Hall of Fame. I knew he was here in spirit."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.