When the New York Mets recognize the 30th anniversary of the franchise’s 1986 championship this weekend, one player from that revered squad sadly will not be with his teammates. Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter passed away at age 57 on Feb. 16, 2012, after battling brain cancer.
Carter will be well represented at Citi Field, though. His widow, Sandy, and his children -- son DJ and daughters Christy and Kimmy, along with their spouses (Holly, Matt and Kyle) -- will participate in the weekend festivities.
Here’s a Q&A with daughter Kimmy Bloemers about the family’s feelings heading into the weekend:
What will the emotions be like for you and the family during the celebration? I was there when Olympic Stadium in Montreal hosted the exhibition game in March 2014 between the Mets and Blue Jays and recognized your family to honor your father. Is this perhaps similar?
Bloemers: My mom and I went to the Montreal exhibition game, and it was quite emotional when they escorted mom and me on the field at Olympic Stadium as well as played the beautiful video of my dad's career. This is very emotional to not have my dad traveling with us, like we had done for so many years. We did many trips together as a family, and it is hard he is not with us anymore. However, there is also a great amount of joy when thinking of the wonderful memories of my dad's career in New York. We are looking forward to seeing former teammates and their families as well as hearing the roar of the crowd from all the great fans. While in New York, our family wants to represent my dad in a way that will bring honor to him as well as honor to the Lord.
Will a family member, maybe your mom, be on the field when they recognize the players before the Saturday game?
Bloemers: Yes, my brother DJ. He is 31 years old, and is the same age that dad played as a Met. He looks just like him -- just no curly hair. And my mom, Sandy Carter.
What have you done to keep your father's legacy alive?
Bloemers: The Gary Carter Foundation has been a foundation for over 20 years. It has raised money for leukemia, juvenile diabetes and autism. As far as carrying on his legacy, we are living lives that would make him proud. We all work hard, take care of ourselves and others, and love each other and the Lord. Ever since Dad has passed away, he has been honored all over the world, and we soak in every article, every induction, every tribute and every speech. They are all emotional, and we wish we could have Dad back here on earth. But we smile through the tears and are so proud of him in every way.
You are currently the softball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where your dad once worked alongside you as the school’s baseball coach. Is your softball involvement a direct result of your father's playing career?
Bloemers: I just finished my 10th season as the head softball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. If dad did not pass away, I believe we would still be coaching side-by-side for the softball and baseball teams. I was an athlete my whole life and played many sports. And when fast-pitch softball became popular, I tried it out. I was 14 years old -- which is considered old to start the game now -- and I asked him what position I should try. And he said catcher. I put his gear on and tried it out. I fell in love with the game and the position. My dad bought me my own set of gear and made me into a very tough catcher. I am grateful for the many hours he spent with me because it helped me not only in my career as a player, but as a coach as well.
Where were you during the '86 World Series? Any lasting memories?
Bloemers: I had just turned six years old (Oct. 6) for the 1986 World Series. I remember being at the game that guaranteed the team to go to the World Series, and it was crazy. Fans were going nuts and were pretty wild. As a family, us kids were at the first and second games, and the rest we watched at home in New York. Mom was at Games 6 and 7. I just remember it being an exciting time and dad was so happy.
Does your family keep in touch with any of your dad's '86 teammates?
Bloemers: Yes, Facebook is helpful for families. Those we are closest to are the Johnsons, Teufels and Strawberrys.
Obviously the '86 team was known for having its vices. What values did your father most believe in and was that compatible with being in that environment?
Bloemers: My dad was a strong Christian man and was married at a young age to my mom -- they were high school sweethearts -- and stayed faithful to my mom. They had three kids and he became a family man and wanted to live his life the right way. He was a good man who cared about others, loved the Lord and truly had a kind heart. I am proud that he was the same person at home as well. Great dad, lots of fun and was very loving toward all of us. From what I hear, my dad's teammates were not like this, and so he was different and not everyone liked that. However, dad stayed true to himself all those years.