MONTREAL -- Before Olympic Stadium hosted its first baseball game in nearly a decade, a contest between the Mets and the Blue Jays, the city of Montreal took time to honor one of the best players in Canadian history.
The wife and daughter of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter took the field to a standing ovation on Friday night at Olympic Stadium, where Carter played the first 11 years and the final season of his 19-year career.
Carter passed away from brain cancer in February 2012.
"It was emotional," wife Sandy said of the ceremony, which included a video tribute and speeches from former teammates. "It was beautiful. It was even more special than I thought it would be, and I had high expectations. We just felt so much love from everyone. The city always embraced Gary and embraced us as a family, and I just really felt that tonight."
Before joining the Mets in 1985 and helping bring a World Series title to Flushing the following year, Carter bought a home and raised his family in Quebec, where they learned a bit of French and lived like locals.
The Quebecois, in turn, embraced the Carters.
"I just feel so honored to be Gary Carter's daughter," said Kimmy Bloemers. "Not because of the fame -- it's not that at all. It's because he treated people like people and knew how to love people. I know he was on this earth for a short time, but he was here to impact and he was here to love people, and basically teach all of us a lesson on how to treat people and how to live life, and to live with a lot of joy. He played this game with a lot of joy. How can you not love baseball when you see somebody like that play the way that they do?"
Toward the end of the ceremony, stadium officials unveiled a banner on the right-field wall, featuring Carter's No. 8 and the words "Merci! Thank you!" The crowd roared, continuing its serenade as Carter's wife and daughter walked off the field.
"Thank you so much," were Sandy Carter's final words before leaving. "Merci beaucoup."