“February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver. Bad news on the doorstep …”
Don McLean sang those words in his classic song, “American Pie,” as he reflected on the plane-crash death of rock star Buddy Holly.
Bad news hit the step again Thursday with sad news of Gary Carter’s death, from cancer, at age 57.
February, again, made us quiver.
Long ago, interestingly, Carter used to deliver the news, good and bad, on his own bike.
You may remember Carter as a Hall of Fame catcher for the Expos and Mets and a signature player in the classic 1986 World Series.
I also remember him as Gary Carter, “former Fullerton News Tribune paper boy.”
I was born in Fullerton, attended college in the city and started my career, in 1980, at the old Fullerton News Tribune (later modernized to Daily News Tribune).
Local heroes were big deals to newspapers back then, and my sports editor, Bob Lenard, had a standing order with Carter, who had skyrocketed out of Sunny Hills High to major league success with the Montreal Expos.
Jackson Browne, the singer-songwriter, also attended Sunny Hills, but we let the entertainment section brag about him.
Every AP story I remember coming over the wires mentioning Carter’s exploits was amended for our readers with the addendum, “former News Tribune paper boy.”
Carter wasn’t just a catcher, he was a thrower.
He was our paper boy!
He took the over route over from his older brother Gordy and approached his job the same way he did as a big-league catcher.
Carter explained his thought process in a 2007 book, “Behind the Glory,” which traced the upbringing of 20 famous baseball players.
“I was going to be the best paper boy ever,” Carter explained in the book. “I used my Sting-Ray bike and got the papers there after school. People know I porched everything. No roofs, no lawns. I stopped the bike and nailed it. And if I ever missed, I would go pick it up and do it right.”