Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Funday: Pros Know.

We're not sure how your week has progressed, but it's been a busy week for our staff, filled with a larger-than-normal number of local, regional and national news stories. Somehow, every member of our staff also snuck in an evening with our significant others.

While we're all tired, and generally happy, we realize some Americans have been shaken by horrible events, strange political debates, and surprise deaths this week, and they may not be in such a positive mood.

We know at least one friend who recently lost his longtime job, which is never easy to hear. Whatever you may have thought of her, the loss of singer Whitney Houston hasn't been easy for her family to deal with, either.

There was a loss that grabbed us and gave us hope, though, and it happened Thursday afternoon, in West Palm Beach.

Former Major League Baseball player Gary Carter, of both the Montreal Expos and the 1986 World Series chammpion New York Mets, died of brain cancer at the young age of 57. If you don't remember Mr. Carter, the catcher who could have been a designated hitter at one time, we recommend you go back and look at some old video of him playing the game.

There are few people who get to do what they love for a living. There are even fewer who seem to simply love living their life. Gary Carter seemed to be one of those people.

Whether you saw him on TV, or in the pages of Sports Illustrated, or in the pages of your local newspaper, he never seemed to stop smiling. Not a goofy grin, or a faked smile, but the well-worn smile of someone who loved life, and wanted everyone else to work together, count their blessings, and love life, too.

Keith Olbermann, already a well-known sports media figure in 1988, had an encounter with Carter at the National League Championship Series game that we highly recommend you read. In short, Olbermann was working the event as a sports reporter, and had a major guest cancel at the last minute. Carter was walking by when Olbermann got the news, and offered to pinch hit - to step in as a guest for a major league interview on a moment's notice - because Carter knew Olbermann needed the help.

As Olbermann said in his piece on Thursday, "Just like that. [Carter] overheard that a guy he barely knew was in a spot, and he managed to shuffle a few things around – an hour before a game that helped decide whether or not his team would go to the World Series."

What makes us smile about Carter's passing is that the kind of action he did for Olbermann seemed to be Gary Carter's default setting. As Olbermann notes, and as we heard from a few folks in the West Palm Beach area Thursday evening, nearly everyone who knew him had a similar story.

Carter was a guy who would have helped shovel your drive, or helped keep you from dropping your groceries in the parking lot when your arms were full. He didn't make a big deal about who he was. He'd help you out, wish you well - and then he'd go play Major League Baseball, at a World Series level.

Gary Carter LOVED living life, on and off the field. He was a real pro at it - and it showed.

If the rest of we Americans showed even half as much professionalism in our own lives, we think there might be more smiles on the faces of more people, like the one Gary Carter used to sport in all those newspaper photos.

Be a pro at life. Enjoy your weekend. Smile.

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