As a life-long fan of the New York Mets, I have been through the ups and downs with that team, lasting through some terrible times in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s before finally being rewarded with what Gary Carter termed A Dream Season in his book by the same name, co-authored with John Hough Jr.
Gary Carter was the Mets catcher during the 1986 baseball season. He came over to the Mets in a trade with the Montreal Expos prior to the 1985 season after eleven years of friction in Montreal. He was a good fit with the Mets, playing five years and adored by fans. Along with Keith Hernandez, he was the first Captain of the Mets (actually co-Captains).
Carter captured the New York fans adoration with his natural enthusiasm for the game, and seemingly for life in general. That comes through in A Dream Season right from the start. On the cover is a picture of Gary, both fists in the air, mouth wide open. Yes, this is the time of my life I remember best.
The book focuses mostly on the 1986 National League Playoffs and World Series. Gary intersperses his observations during that time with flashbacks to earlier times. For the most part he is positive although he does address his friction with both the players and team management in Montreal prior to his trade. He talks of how he tried to broker friendships and build bridges, only to meet with resentment. That, and the shots he lobs in the direction of Astros pitcher Mike Scott, are about the closest thing to sour grapes in the book. The rest is completely upbeat and positive.
Why wouldn’t it be? The 1986 season ended on the highest of highs for the Mets and for Carter. It’s interesting to read his thoughts, especially during the infamous game 6 of the World Series, perhaps the best ever played. His observations are terrific as he paints many of the veterans of the Mets club that year as a group of people who didn’t fit where they used to play and somehow came together perfectly that season. Even when he talks of losing the MVP vote for the series to Ray Knight, he speaks in the positive although you can tell it was something he really would have liked to have had.
The flashbacks go all the way back to his childhood. After his mother died, he and his brother were raised by their father in California. There was some friction with his brother as well, but this Dream Season brought them back together and helped to build bridges within the family. Carter’s love for his family is evident as well, and he’s not afraid to speak about his Christian beliefs and how that has influenced his baseball career and the way he comports himself both on and off the field.
Unlike If At First by Keith Hernandez, which flows quite nicely through the season, A Dream Season is a little bit disjointed. The back and forth as something in a game leads to thoughts of another time and place can get tedious at times as I felt that i wanted to get back to the games. It’s not a bad read at all, but sometimes hard to follow the back and forth.
Carter talks about his teammates and the Mets management. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, and that’s worth listening to. He will tell you why certain things bothered him, such as the players’ significant others being excluded from a cross-country flight, and how it led to a day when he was absolutely beat for playing when there was really no good reason for it. I wonder if his criticism of a couple of teammates caused friction for him after the book was published. Like Hernandez, Carter feels that leading a team also means leveling criticism where it’s due. I do wonder though if the proper place for it was in a book.
For fans like me who want to reminisce, this book is awesome. I found myself going to the DVDs of those games to see what he talked about and I gained more insight into how things unfolded the way they did. It’s a great way to see these games all over again and work up enthusiasm for the upcoming season if you’re a Mets fan.
Categories: Book Reviews