They were two players who couldn't be any more different. But they were also the same.
In summer 1989, Mike DeButch was in the sixth season of his professional career, all spent in the minors. He'd made it to AAA Tidewater, but he would never make it to the majors.
Gary Carter was in his 16th season in the majors, a career where he'd helped win a World Series and was already destined to be immortalized in Cooperstown.
But, for five games in summer 1989, they were teammates at AAA Tidewater. DeButch was on his first stint with the club. Carter was on a five-game rehab assignment.
In an interview with The Greatest 21 Days last November, DeButch recalled playing with the future Hall of Famer. He also recalled The Kid providing him with one of his more memorable moments.
In that moment, DeButch, playing shortstop, made a good play. He threw the runner out at first and tagged another runner trying for third.
Carter knew a good play when he saw it, DeButch recalled, and he relayed that to his new teammate DeButch.
"Gary Carter was like a little kid, 'that was great,' giving me a high-five," DeButch recalled. "I remember that moment."
Carter passed away today from cancer, at the age of 57. When I heard the news, that was the story I recalled, the one that appeared in the third part of DeButch's interview from November.
It was the story of a Hall of Famer playing like a little kid, recognizing a good play when he saw it. Even if the player making that play would never make the majors, let alone the heights that Carter reached.
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