My childhood hero, Gary Carter, is gone. He died last week, losing a year-long battle with brain cancer. What he leaves behind is a hero's legacy.

It's hard to comprehend that he's gone. Carter was invincible to me, a galvanized hero incapable of defeat. He was pure and good, which is why my parents, especially my father, encouraged my admiration of the man.

I can remember sitting and watching a game one summer afternoon with my father. He sat there calling out key plays and brilliant hits, arguing calls. The excitement was too much for a five year old to handle. I'd have to recreate every pitch, every play. Somehow, they all revolved around number eight.

After the game I rushed to get my cards and as I rummaged through them I came across a Gary Carter card. It was then that my father taught me what a leader was. How they were unselfish and committed to a cause. In a name, a leader was Gary Carter. He became my lasting image of leadership on the field of play.

It's hard to find a figure of moral integrity these days, one that works for a greater good, not selfish individual acclaim. With one less example in a world already with too few, the loss of Carter is that much more saddening.

His daughter summed it up beautifully in this statement:

"I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus".

Rest in peace, Gary Carter. You have been and always will be my hero.


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