The late baseball great Gary Carter will have a ballpark and street named after him in Montreal, where he defined the golden era of a once-beloved franchise.
The City of Montreal announced Wednesday the details of its tribute to a catcher who starred with the now-defunct Expos for more than half of his Hall of Fame career.
The street is one that borders Jarry Park, where the Expos played for most of their first decade and where Carter got his big-league debut. The site now hosts the annual Canadian Open tennis tournament and the street to its south and west, Faillon Street, will have a stretch renamed for Carter.
Sports commentator Rodger Brulotte, who chaired the selection committee, says Jarry Park is where the love affair between Carter and his wife Sandy first blossomed.
He says they discussed the city’s plans this past summer when Sandy and her son were in Montreal.
“I said we want to do Faillon Street where Gary started his career, and that’s when we started crying,” Brulotte recalled.
“She said, ‘That’s where we started, that’s where our life started.“’
Close to 2,000 proposals were submitted to the city after it requested ideas to honour Carter last Feb. 27, shortly after his death.
Brulotte says not only baseball fans, but also the tennis world, will now get to know Carter: “Just think about it — across the U.S., everywhere, it will be (known that) Gary Carter Street (is) where tennis is being played.”
There will also be a baseball field in the north-end Ahuntsic district named after him, and one other park in a Montreal suburb has already been named after Carter.
Brulotte says the north-end park is special.
“We chose a park where teams from the province play. Our best teams play there — junior, senior and also midget elite,” he added.
The changes will be enacted by city council in February 2013, a year after Carter’s death from cancer at age 57.
City officials say there might also eventually be an honour at the site of the Olympic Stadium, where the star catcher played for the vast majority of his Expos career.
Carter won the hearts of Montrealers through his feats on the field as well as his boundless enthusiasm around fans.
Nicknamed “The Kid,” he was considered one of the all-time great catchers in the major leagues. Carter delighted Montrealers from 1974 to 1984, when he was traded to New York, and he returned in 1992 for his farewell season. He was the first Expos player to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Carter’s death triggered an outpouring of Expos nostalgia in a city that boasts few lingering traces of baseball.
Aside from the Expos banner hanging at the Bell Centre hockey arena, and the usually vacant Olympic Stadium, there is relatively little evidence in Montreal that the city hosted, and was sometimes impassioned for, a major-league team over 36 years from 1969 to 2004.
The California-born athlete entrenched himself in Quebec life during his time there, calling it a second home and learning some French.