Down Memory Lane - Alex Carey
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
Oldtime baseball followers might recall scrappy Leo Durocher once pontificating - along with his usual profane expletives - that nice guys always finish last.
Obviously, Leo the Lip never met anyone like Alex Carey.
Alex is truly the perfect example of an athlete who can give 100 per cent on the field of competition - pestering, checking, outwitting, and outscoring his opponents - and yet remain the epitome of Mr. Nice Guy.
Everyone, those on the opposition team included, liked him. Perhaps, it was respect for his honest, ask-no-quarter, give-no-quarter style that, somehow, was accomplished with clean, tough play. Or maybe it was the fact that he has never been known to utter a harsh word about anyone - he measures his friends and acquaintances in degrees of how much he likes them, not in terms of how or why he dislikes them.
Born March 18, 1936, in Vernon, B.C., Alex moved to East Burnaby - a pocket community between Vancouver and New Westminster - with his family at a young age and was soon caught up in a successful lacrosse organization headed by coaches Al Smith and John Salter. For example, some of the athletes who graduated out of East Burnaby were Alex's two older brothers, Bob and Pat, Fred Usselman, Don Salter, Lorne Reelie, Eugene Turris and Vern Wilkie.
After East Burnaby captured the B.C. Juvenile "A" (under 18) title in 1954, Alex, Usselman and Salter headed over to Vancouver's Renfrew district to join Jack McKinnon and his Junior Indian squad. Also drawn to the defending Minto Cup champions for the 1955 season was a young blond sniper from North Burnaby named Gordie Gimple.
The canny McKinnon, in search of a productive line to plug the void left by graduating members of his championship team, joined Gimple with Alex and Usselman. The mix worked! McKinnon's charges took the 1955 B.C. title and then captured the Minto Cup in 1956.
Along with the entire McKinnon entourage, Alex turned senior in 1957 - the Gimple-Usselman-Carey line still intact. Four years later, the trio was instrumental in Vancouver's Mann Cup victory. An injury sidelined Alex for the entire 1963 Mann Cup season but he was back the following year to claim his second championship ring.
When the Coquitlam Adanacs were formed in 1965 with Gimple acting as playing-coach, Alex turned in his Vancouver uniform to join his linemate of 10 years. The following season, Usselman also transferred to Coquitlam, reuniting the now legendary threesome.
By 1970, the 34-year-old Carey noted the ever-growing number of silver threads spreading through his jet black hair and decided it was time to step aside and make room for younger legs. He remained with the Adanacs as an assistant coach and vice-president but, when injuries robbed his club of several veterans in 1972, Alex answered the call for six more league and three playoff games. He even got in one contest in 1975 at the age of 39. But that was enough - the aching bones could take no more.
During his 415-game career, Alex scored 266 goals and 298 assists for 564 points and was named a league all-star three times.
The Gimple-Usselman-Carey trio racked up a combined 2,297 total points. Gimple was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1973 and was joined by Usselman in 1979.
The famous line has once again been reunited - Alex joins his linemates in the year 2000 as an inducted member of the Hall of Fame.