Andre Dawson is a man of few words. The majority of those he spoke yesterday in Nationals Park when he was honored in the nation's capital were published this morning in another story I posted. Gary Carter has never had a problem expressing himself. The effusive Carter held court for an audience of five or six reporters in the Nats dugout yesterday afternoon and shared his thoughts on the ceremony in DC, his and Dawson's past in Montreal and what the future holds for the Nationals' franchise:
Gary Carter on the Ring of Honor: "I just found out about five minutes ago that they put this ring of honor up there, I mean, I'm just overwhelmed. To now be recognized with Andre Dawson and all the great Washington Senators' players, I'm speechless basically, and that's tough for me to do, you know, but when I was doing the interview they told me about this and so there will always be a remembrance here at Nationals Park, and I'm very honored and very proud."
Gary Carter on Andre Dawson: "'He was the consumate professional, I guess the greatest compliment that baseball peers or teammates can gives is that he was the consumate professional. He played the game hard every day, didn't want a lot of fanfare, he was the type of guy that just came out and did his business. We played in that god-awful Olympic Stadium that tore our knees up, cause i've had twelve knee surgeries and both my knees replaced, and he's had as many surgeries with one knee replaced, but eventually he's going to have the other one. He just always played hurt and played hard, and I tried to do the same and it was just the way were brought up as players. We respected the game, we loved the game, I think Andre will have the sentiments, and that's the way we were taught in the minor leagues. I go back to the Mel Didier days, when he was the director of the minor leagues, and he told us we had to sprint to first base on a walk, we had to sprint on and off the field in-between innings, we had to play the game the way it was supposed to be played, and that's the way I was taught and that's the way Andre was taught, and that's the way we played in Montreal, and if there was a nagging injury of some sort, we were going to do everything we could to get out on the field and that's the way Andre played everyday."
Gary Carter on being honored in the nation's capital: "It's wonderful, cause I understand that there might be a pretty good crowd that [Stephen] Strasburg's back on the mound, but to know that in the nation's capital that there will be a place of honor is something that I'll be able to live with obviously for the rest of my life. I just don't have enough words to express my feelings, because I'm just overwhelmed, I really had no idea that this was transpiring, I thought they were just going to honor Andre and I was going to catch the first pitch, that's all I knew so, now that the name will be up there on that ring is something that I'm really proud of."
Gary Carter on wearing the Expos cap again: "It's kind of nice to put on the old red, white and blue colors that there once were, but I'm just proud of the Nationals too that they're recognizing Andre. I'm very proud and honored to be recognized as well, but I think that the Nationals have something very special here in the nation's capital and especially with some of the great players that are going to be coming through their organization. I'm sure that they're hoping they're going to get the likes of Bryce Harper signed, and you've got Strasburg here who's been a huge impact for this organization and Mr. Lerner is going to do everything he can, I'm sure to try to eventually bring a winner here."
Gary Carter remembers playing for the Expos: "It was a stepping stone for all of us. We fortunately had that opportunity to play at an early age with a young organization that just got started in 1969. It was an expansion team, so, in other organizations, we may not have gotten that same opportunity and moved up that ladder as quickly as we did. So, Andre made the quick jump, he went Double-A, Triple-A, big leagues all in one year. I spent two and a half years in the minor leagues, but that's relatively short in terms of spending time in the minor leagues. You know, again, the Expos groomed a lot of their talent in the minor leagues, and I give them a great deal of credit for bringing that talent to the major leagues, cause not only Andre and myself, but you look at the great pitchers, Steve Rogers, Bill Gullickson, Charlie Lee, David Palmer, Scott Sanderson, Warren Cromartie came along, Ellis Valentine, Tim Raines, I mean it was just endless. And the unfortunate thing is we never won a championship up there. Only 1981, is the only feather that the Expos have in their cap, and that was from the split season which we won against the Phillies and lost to the Dodgers in the League Championship series."
Gary Carter, are you happy with how the Nationals have acknowledged the Expos?: "Well I know that they initially have acknowledged and remembered the greats that were Washington Senators and that's understandable, I mean Walter Johnson comes to mind right away, Harmon Killibrew, some of the greats that had a Washington Senators' uniform on, and some of the players from the Negro Leagues and stuff like that that have been recognized and to be a part of that ring up there is something that's very special. And I don't know if their intentions are to do more, this is a start, there is a tie I feel, an association with obviously the 37 years spent on the field with the Expos, and that organization came here to Washington and they're just going to expound on it, I feel, and try to make it a better organization, unfortunately because of the economy, because of a lot of things that transpired up in Montreal, the loss of the season at the end in 1994 when they had the best record in baseball. I don't think the franchise was ever the same after that, and now that they've moved to the nation's capital, I have a feeling that not only the politicians but I know Mr. Lerner and everybody else who's a part of this organization are going to make it bigger and better."
Gary Carter on Tim Raines: "I hope that one day he'll be remembered and recognized here in the nation's capital."