Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gary Carter's First Game at Dodger Stadium



Rookie Gary Carter in 1975
Gary Carter was a good man and the world is a lessor place today with his passing.  A player with an infectious smile and a man that lived with tremendous faith.  Everyone that came in contact with him has positive things to say.  He was a man that knew the proper priorities in life and put his family first.  He was a Hall of Famer in life as well as baseball.

The "Kid" was a SoCal phenomenom, out of Fullerton's Sunny Hills High School, and many of us were aware of him before his arrival to the big leagues.  Starting the '75 season for Montreal in right field the day before his 21st birthday, Gary went 3 for 4 with a homer on opening day.  By May 12th, veteran Expo Manager Gene Mauch decided that the enthusiastic "kid" was to replace journeyman catcher Barry Foote behind the dish. I remember attending his first Major League game in Southern California.  Many were excited to see the young local boy start his first game at Dodger Stadium.  It was June 9, 1975.  I'm sure for Gary, it was to be a special night.  It didn't turn out that way.  As you can see by the box score.



Montreal
Batting            AB R H RBI BB SO BA  OPS
Mangual CF    4   0  0  0    0    2    .270   .697
Lintz 2B            4   0  0  0    0   1    .242   .578
Coggins RF    3   0  1  0    1   0    .286   .734
Biitner LF    4   0  2  0    0   0    .383   .901
Jorgnsen 1B    3   0  0  0   1   1    .229   .729
Scanlon 3B    4   0  0  0   0   1    .244   .764
Carter C         4   0  0  0   0   4   .262   .768
Foli SS            2   0  1  0  1   0   .222   .546
Fryman P    2   0  0  0  0   2   .174   .469
DeNola P    0   0  0  0  0   0   .000   .000
Bailey PH    1   0  0  0  0   1   .212   .536
Taylor P            0   0  0  0  0   0   .000   .000
Totals  31   0  4  0  3 12   .129   .335
TB: L Biitner 2; R Coggins; T Foli.
Team LOB: 7.
With RISP: 0 for 4
Los Angeles
Batting       AB R H RBI BB SO BA  OPS
Lopes 2B       4   0 0 0 0 1 .249  .723
Paciorek LF 4 0 0 0 0 0 .183  .494
Wynn CF 3 2 2 1 1 0 .286  .961
Cruz PR-CF 0 0 0 0 0 0 .235  .542
Garvey 1B 4 1 1 1 0 1 .321  .824
Cey 3B         4 0 1 1 0 0 .269  .788
Ferguson RF 3 0 1 0 1 0 .199  .628
Yeager C 2 1 1 0 1 0 .210  .586
Auerbach SS3 0 1 1 0 0 .191  .536
Messrsmth P 3 0 0 0 0 1 .283  .676
Totals 30 4 7 4 3 3 .233  .736
2B: R Auerbach (8, off W Fryman)
3B: S Garvey (4, off W Fryman).
HR: J Wynn (12, off W Fryman; 5th inn. 0 on, 1 out to LF).
SH: S Yeager (2, off D DeMola).
TB: J Wynn 5; S Garvey 3; R Auerbach 2; J Ferguson; R Cey; S Yeager.
RBI: R Auerbach (10); R Cey (33); J Wynn (36); S Garvey (38).
2-out RBI: S Garvey; R Cey.
Team LOB: 6.
With RISP: 1 for 6.
Montreal
Pitching      IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF
Fryman, L (5-3) 5       5 4 4 3 1 1 2.78 23
DeMola     2       2 0 0 0 2 0 2.88 8
C Taylor     1       0 0 0 0 0 0 4.28 3
Totals     8       7 4 4 3 3 1 4.50 34
Los Angeles
Pitching    IP     H      R ER BB SO HR ERA BF
Messrsmth        9     4       0 0 3 12 0 1.90 34
W, (9-2)
Totals    9     4       0 0 3 12 0 0.00 34
Balks: None.
WP: None.
HBP: None.
IBB: None.
Pickoffs: None.
Umpires: HP - Andy Olsen, 1B - Terry Tata, 2B - Ed Sudol, 3B - Bill Williams.
Time of Game: 1:57.
Attendance: 22,701

*********************************************

With family and friends in attendance and excitement and butterflies in his belly, Gary struck out four times against veteran pitcher Andy Messersmith who threw a 4 hit shutout in less than two hours.  I'll never forget the kid in his final at bat in the bottom of the ninth.  With the Dodgers up 4-0, the Expos mounted their first threat of the night.  Messersmith had walked the first batter and then gave up a single to Larry Biitner.  After retiring the next two hitters, the young rookie eagerly stepped to the plate amongst a lot of fanfare.  He wanted to redeem himself desperately and there was a lot of excitement in the air.  Carter swung from the heals on two pitches as any eager Rookie would, coming up empty and then Messersmith pulled the string on a slow breaking ball that hit the corner, faking Gary out of his shoes as he took it for a called third strike to end the game.  Home plate umpire Andy Olsen emphatically called him out and the crowd went wild as the Dodgers ran off the field victorious.  



Carter twisted and swung his bat in the air in frustration as he complained at the called third strike and stomped back to the dugout.  Many in the crowd laughed as the young rookie ended his disastrous home town debut in dramatic fashion.

The next night was more favorable to Gary as he went 1 for 3 in an Expo 5-4 victory over the Dodgers.

I was hoping to have the opportunity to one day talk to Gary about that first night against the Dodgers that I witnessed.  I even had purchased an Carter Expo jersey made by Mitchell and Ness and was ready to purchase a ticket for a signing last May at the San Francisco Cow Palace where he was to appear.  Sadly, his illness surfaced and the cancellation was in order.

I sent Gary a get well card, and hoped and prayed for him and his family.   Fullerton mourns the loss of one of their great sons.  Fellow Fullerton Hall of Famer Walter Johnson now has a batterymate to catch that slingshot blazing fastball of his.  Rest in Peace Gary, you were one of the greatest.       

1 comment:

  1. My nephew, over the weekend, was telling me he loved the red white and blue big M on the Expos jersey. He says at first he didn't know it was an M. Although a New Yorker he became an Expo fan, for a time and Gary Carter was his favorite player, which inspired him to be a catcher. Carter makes you think pleasant thoughts when you see photos of him smiling almost all the time. A great guy besides being a great catcher. May he rest in peace.

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