Saying Goodbye — and Thanks — to Chris Carter
For two years, Chris Carter has been one of the best hitters in the International League. This season, he leads Pawtucket in all of the Triple Crown categories, batting .284 with 15 HR and 59 RBI.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
On Saturday night, he’ll play his final home game as a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox. In case you haven’t heard, Chris is one of the players-to-be-named later in the Billy Wagner trade and will become a member of the New York Mets organization when the season is finished.
I’ve written about Carter’s unsurpassed work ethic and his obsession with getting to the big leagues before, but on the day of his final home game I want to share another side of Chris. It involves a 7-year-old fan named Dylan Guindon.
A few weeks ago, Dylan was distraught. His grandfather Bruce soon learned that the reason was Carter’s trade to the Mets.
“He started crying and we were trying to figure out why he was so broken-hearted about it,” Bruce said. “His problem was that Chris would never get to realize his dream of playing for the Boston Red Sox. I tried to explain that it’s part of the business of baseball, but he was very devastated thinking that if somebody could ruin Chris Carter’s dream, then at some point in time, somebody could also ruin his dreams.”
Bruce is the official scorer at McCoy Stadium and part of his nightly duties is to go into the clubhouse after each game and give box scores to the coaching staff. The night after discussing the Carter trade with his grandson, he brought Dylan into the clubhouse with him.
“The first player we ran into was Chris Carter and he said, ‘Hey buddy, how are you doing?’ and rubbed my grandson’s head,” Bruce explained. “Dylan’s eyes got big and he became speechless. Chris shook his hand and introduced himself. As we walked away I noticed my grandson’s bottom lip start to quiver so I asked him what was wrong. He said that he had one of Chris Carter’s baseball cards and could have had him sign it but forgot to bring it.”
So Bruce trekked back up to the press box where he knew where to find one of the PawSox 2009 baseball card sets.
“I know we’re not supposed to ask for autographs,” Bruce said, “so I went into the clubhouse and explained the situation to Chris and he said, ‘Bring him in.’ So I brought Dylan in and he spent about 8 minutes talking to him, asking him about school, asking him if he played baseball, and stuff like that. The whole time Dylan’s not speaking. Then Chris said, ‘Would you like me to sign that card?’ because Dylan was holding it the whole time. He said, ‘Yes, I would.’ So Chris signed it and said, ‘I bet you’re one of my biggest fans and I’ve got something special for you.’ So he reached up into his locker and got a rookie card, signed it, and gave it to him. The only word that came out of my grandson’s mouth was ‘Wow!’
The next night I made it a point to find Chris and thank him because it meant so much to Dylan and he said, ‘Is he here tonight?’ I said, ‘He’s in the corridor,’ and Chris said ‘I’ll be right out, I’ve got something for him.’ I had no idea what he was going to do but he walked out with a bat and said, ‘Hey Dylan, do you remember me?” Again, he becomes speechless – this is from a kid that blabs, you know? And Chris said, ‘I’ve got this bat that I’ve used – would you like to have it?’ And Dylan just shook his head because he still wasn’t speaking. Chris signed it: To Dylan, Best Wishes, Chris Carter.”
Dylan Guindon has a keepsake that he’ll probably cherish forever. And Chris Carter received a gift too.
“Dylan is a good boy – not because he’s my grandson – and he wrote a thank you note to Chris,” Bruce Guindon said. “He plays T-ball and has his own card. And he signed and put it in the thank you card that he gave to Chris Carter.”
The New York Mets will be getting a great hitter when the Billy Wagner trade is finalized. And Dylan Guindon is proof that the Mets are getting a great person too.
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If you can’t make it out to McCoy Stadium on Saturday night for the home finale, you can catch the game on Cox Cable throughout Rhode Island. I’ll join former Red Sox catcher and broadcaster Bob Montgomery for the call, with pre-game coverage starting at 6:00.
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Rochester’s Stan Cliburn is one of the best managers in the International League and one of my favorite people to talk to, but I’m not so sure about his fashion sense. We were talking on the broadcast a few nights ago about the fur vest that Stan wore to a team function last winter and I promised to post a photo on my blog. Enjoy.