Gary Carter, the Kid, passed away Thursday in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 57. The 11-time All-Star catcher helped the Mets dramatically capture the 1986 World Championship. Last May Carter was diagnosed with brain cancer. He was battling the disease with radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but in January additional tumors were discovered.
Gary Edmund Carter was born on April 8, 1954 in Culver City, California. He attended Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, CA. Carter made his MLB debut for the Montreal Expos on September 16,1974.
Gary Carter was not only a defensively strong catcher, but he also was a slugger. He hit a career 324 homeruns, and his 298 homeruns while as a catcher rank him number 7. The former Dodger and Met, Mike Piazza, is ranked number 1 for hitting 396 homeruns while catching. In his 19 seasons, Carter mostly played for the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets, but he was a Dodger for one year in 1991. He played in 101 games for the Dodgers that year, but he had been plagued with injuries during those last seasons. He also played for the San Francisco Giants for one year prior to the Dodgers, and then he finished his career back where he had started, in Montreal.
The curly-haired backstop was popular on and off the field. The prime minister of Canada at the time, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, once said:
"“I am certainly happy that I don’t have to run for election against Gary Carter.”"
Carter was an energetic and passionate player, often pumping his fists in triumph after getting a key hit or homer, or holding the baseball for all to see after tagging a runner out at home plate. Some teammates in Montreal felt “Camera Carter” was too interested in the limelight. Although he was the franchise player of the Expos, his high salary spurred them to trade him to New York in December of 1984 for four youngsters: Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans.
In his first year with the Mets he hit a career high 32 homeruns along with 100 RBI. He played at Shea Stadium for five seasons alongside Hernandez and Strawberry. As a catcher, he had a great arm, blocked pitches in the dirt well, and was good at handling the pitching staff which included Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling. From 1980-1982 he won three consecutive Gold Glove awards, and his 2,056 games caught place him 4th on the all-time list.
The 1986 Championship Mets team won 108 games while Carter contributed with 24 homeruns and 105 runs. In the NLCS, Carter hit a single in the 12th inning which drove in the winning run in Game 5 versus the Houston Astros. The Mets went on to win the NLCS in six games. New York was opposed by the Boston Red Sox in the Fall Classic, and Boston won the first two games. In dramatic fashion, Gary Carter went on to drive in three runs in Game 3 at Fenway Park, and then hit two homeruns in Game 4 which tied the series up at two games apiece. The Red Sox won Game 5, but Game 6 was to become one of the most memorable World Series games ever. In the 10th inning the Red Sox were leading the Mets 5-3. They were only one out away from clinching their first World Championship since 1918. With nobody out, Carter singled to keep the Mets alive, and he sparked their amazing come-from-behind rally to win the game. Two nights later the Mets won the World Series.
Carter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993 as an Expo. After his playing career, he worked as a minor league instructor, broadcaster, manager in the minors and independent ball, and a coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is survived by his wife Sandy, daughter Kimmy, son D.J., daughter Christy, and three grandchildren.
Dodger Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda made the following statement regarding the passing of Gary Carter:
"“Gary Carter played for me with so much respect and enthusiasm for the game he loved. He was a Hall of Famer as a player and as a man. On behalf of the entire Dodger organization, we love him and will miss him.”"