Judgement & Gary Carter

One of the first pieces of Scripture many of us probably learn is John 8:7, “…Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Nevertheless we all pass judgement.  Many times we convince ourselves (read: lie to ourselves), “Sure, I’m a sinner — but I have little inconsequential sins, he has big bad consquential sins.  It’s okay for me to judge him.”

Nevertheless we oftentimes judge the good, or the positive, or the unselfish.  Maybe we’re jealous, maybe we’re skeptics.  Maybe we think ‘He’s too good to be true’ and conclude he must be a fake.  And we find it easy  to judge insincerity.

Last week we read about Buck O’Neil.  Buck scouted Ernie Banks and once when someone mentioned that it was Buck who taught Ernie Banks to play baseball, Buck corrected them, “I didn’t teach Ernie Banks to play baseball.  Ernie Banks knew HOW to play baseball.  I taught Ernie Banks to LOVE playing baseball.”

And as much as Ernie Banks is known for being the first shortstop to hit 40 homeruns in a season (and the 2nd, and the 3rd, and the 4th to do so), he’s even better known for his “Let’s play two” optimism and enthusiasm and love of the game and love of life.

Dodgers catcher and Banks ‘contemporary John Roseboro once said “Maybe it’s sacrilege but I believe Banks was a con artist.  No one smiles all the time, naturally, unless they’re putting you on and putting you on. Every day of our lives isn’t a good one.”

Which brings me to Gary Carter.   Hall of Fame Gary Carter  didn’t wear his Christianity on his sleeve, but he wore his happiness and his goodness on his sleeve. And people never quite felt like they could trust a man who was so consistently happy — and teammates never quite trusted a ballplayer who seemed too good to be true.


I’m too young to have watched Ernie Banks, but I grew up watching Gary Carter.  I loved watching Gary Carter play baseball.  I loved watching Gary Carter loving to play baseball (full disclosure: I kinda sorta loved it less once he became a Dodger).  But not everyone loved Gary Carter, though he never gave anyone a reason to dislike him.  Not everyone understood Gary Carter.

From Jeff Pearlman in Wall Street Journal

and Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated

An excerpt,

In the oft-ignorant, oft-shallow world of baseball, Carter was deemed a geek from the very beginning. He didn’t drink and didn’t smoke. He didn’t curse and he didn’t talk smack. He showed up to work early, played hard, embraced home-plate collisions and—by all accounts—worked his tail off. He was loyal to his wife, Sandy, and an involved and dedicated father to their three children.

Yet this was rarely good enough for teammates. In Montreal, where Carter established himself as a star from 1974-84, he was derisively tagged “Teeth,” “Lights” and “Camera Carter” for his apparent love of the spotlight and his willingness to grant any and every interview request. Such behavior didn’t sit well with many of the Expos, who mocked him (cowardly, Carter would later tell me) behind his back and made him the butt of their juvenile jokes. Why, Carter’s famous nickname—The Kid—was born of neither love nor appreciation, but scorn.
…   So why all the hostility? Why the insults?   “Simple,” says Hearn. “Jealousy and immaturity. There were people who chose to poke fun at Gary’s strength and character as a man. When you’re that different from the majority, and you’re vibrantly outspoken, people don’t understand. So they become mean—especially when you’re as good as Gary was on the field.”

It’s easy to be happy when you succeed, but we really get to know people when things don’t go well.  We witness character when people are challenged.   It’s been said “Sports don’t build character, they reveal it.”  Baseball might reveal character even more than most sports.  First baseball fans get to watch their favorite players every day.  Second, as we discussed Week One, we see the best players fail 7 times out of 10 at the plate, and they see the best players lose 60+ games every season.

So why are men like Ernie Banks and Gary Carter judged or mistrusted?  Why are their motives questioned?  When we watch a man make 7 outs in 10 at bats, when we watch him lose 60 or 70 or 80 games in a season, and yet see them smile and love every second, why are they mistrusted and not admired?

We as Christians are inherently optimistic.   Have we been mistrusted and judged merely for our good intentions?

Likewise who have we mistrusted because we can’t quite understand their optimism or their unselfishness or their enthusiasm?

And why hasn’t John Ramsier ever channeled Ernie Banks and said “Let’s have two sermons?”


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7 thoughts on “Judgement & Gary Carter

  1. First, thank you for the helpful guides about how to respond. 😀

    GREAT thoughts about Gary Carter and judgment. As an aside, I also grew up watching Gary Carter play (though I’m more than a decade older than you, Jason). I didn’t remember he was a Christ-follower; I just knew him as a formidable ballplayer. Thanks for sharing the Posnanski article, which underscores Carter’s marginalization.

    Appreciate your point that we humans often feel judgmental toward good things. (Gasp!) So hard to recognize this in ourselves, yet I’ve known it to happen many times. As you note, sometimes we feel suspicious and sometimes I think we feel threatened by someone else’s altruism. It’s easier to dismiss them so we do not feel judged by their ‘goodness.’ Wow. So easy to be self-deceived.’

    Is it possible for us humans to appreciate without judging or feeling judged?

    I’m curious whether John Ramsier will take up your, “Let’s hear two” proposition. 😀 … Maybe when we have a guest preacher. Hahaha!

    Thanks for all these provocative thoughts.


  2. What I find remarkable about these two individuals, and so many other people who work in hostile environments, is that they don’t get pulled down to the common denominator of base vulgarity. In my field, as Bill Strogis could attest, vulgarity, dishonesty and bad behavior is often the norm. In the balance between success and morales, morales often lose.
    I personal feel the pull and often consciously resist using bad language, putting other down and trying to maintain ethical behavior. Having an accountability partner, someone you can talk to openly about things is a great asset. When they aren’t around, talking to Jesus is a pretty great option also 😉


  3. When I think of John 8:7 I often wonder what was Jesus writing in the sand. When Pope Francis was visiting the United States he was asked a question (which I have forgotten) and his answer was I can
    not judge. Not one of us can. Not one.

    I have been around individuals who if you didn’t know what they were going through you would think everything was fine. I never heard a complaint and are you ready for this. One individual I know was
    out doing for others even through her cancer treatments.

    When on the phones at American Airlines the one thing that I didn’t allow is for a passenger to use
    language that wasn’t appropriate. We were allowed to hang up on them. I gave them a warning. I remember one call I had the passenger came on very strong I gently shared what I needed from him
    and in the middle of the call he apologize to me on the way he came on the phone. Many times I
    felt if I did approach it that way than I could turn the situation around.

    I try looking at the glass half full. There are so many things that I’m involved in that when I walk away
    from a situation I stop and think about how grateful I am for the way God takes care of me.

    I think of Nick V. who has no arms, legs etc. He does more than some.
    I can’t do half of what he does.

    Working in corporate America wasn’t easy, but the one thing I held high is Character and Integrity. Holding one accountable for their actions is important. I took it seriously at American Airlines and other places.
    No, every day may not be the best of days, but if I look around and see what I do have instead of what I don’t than I can get through it. All we have to do is look around and see what He has given to us.

    The sun is always out even when the rain is falling because it’s from God. How can it not be a beautiful day in the neighbor?

    Jesus knows what we are going through he endured more than we could ever and he didn’t deserve
    not one drop of it. He did it for us.

    Should I be treated better than He? No. He gets me through it all.

    I’m looking forward to reading about the lives of some mentioned here.

    Thank You for sharing.


  4. Although Corporate America has never been a virtue of Christianity, it has degraded to where people no longer show any respect for each other. It is a torturous path to walk as a Christian. We must remember that others are watching us constantly and if we stoop cursing, yelling at others, etc. there is no way that they will ever see us as a loving Christian.


  5. John would be okay with two sermons but we would have to include a 7th inning stretch and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.


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