Gary Carter, American Hall of Fame baseball player (Montreal Expos, New York Mets), died from a brain tumor he was 57
Gary Edmund Carter was an American professional baseball catcher whose 21-year career was spent primarily with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets. Nicknamed “Kid” for his youthful exuberance, Carter was named an All-Star 11 times, and was a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets died from a brain tumor he was 57. Known throughout his career for his hitting and his excellent defense
behind the plate, Carter made a major contribution to the Mets’ World
Series championship in 1986, including a 12th-inning single against the
Houston Astros that won Game 5 of the NLCS and a 10th-inning single against the Boston Red Sox to start the fabled comeback rally in Game 6 of the World Series. He is one of only four people ever to be named captain of the Mets, and he had his number retired by the Expos.
After retiring from baseball, Carter coached baseball at the college and minor-league level. In 2003, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Carter was the first Hall of Famer whose plaque depicts him as a member of the Montreal Expos.
Carter was born in Culver City, California
in 1954 to Jim Carter, an aircraft worker, and his wife, Inge. Gary was
athletic at a young age, winning (along with four other boys) the
7-year old category of the first national Punt, Pass, and Kick skills competition in 1961. When Gary was 12, his mother died of leukemia. He attended high school at Sunny Hills High School, in Fullerton, California, where he played football as a quarterback and baseball as an infielder. After receiving more than 100 scholarships for athletics, Carter signed a letter of intent to play football for the UCLA Bruins as a quarterback, but instead signed with the Montreal Expos after they drafted him in the 1972 Major League Baseball Draft.
Carter was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a shortstop in the third round of the 1972 Major League Baseball Draft. Carter got his nickname “Kid” during his first spring training camp with the Expos in 1974.
The Expos converted Carter to a catcher in the minor leagues. In 1974, he hit 23 home runs and drove in 83 runs for the Expos’ triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Blues. Following a September call-up, Carter made his major league debut in Jarry Park in Montreal in the second game of a double header against the New York Mets
on September 16. Despite going 0–4 in that game, he finished the season
batting .407 (11-27). He hit his first major league home run on
September 28 against Steve Carlton in a 3–1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Carter split time between right field and catching during his rookie season (1975), and was selected for the National League All-Star team as a right fielder. He did not get an at bat, but appeared as a defensive replacement for Pete Rose in the ninth inning, and caught Rod Carew‘s fly ball for the final out of the NL’s 6–3 victory. In that rookie season, Carter hit .270 with 17 home runs and 68 runs batted in, receiving The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award and finishing second to San Francisco Giants pitcher John Montefusco for the National League Rookie of the Year award. That year, he was voted the Expos Player of the Year for the first of four times (he also won in 1977, 1980 and 1984).
Carter again split time in the outfield and behind the plate in 1976 while a broken finger limited him to 91 games. He batted .219 with six home runs and 38 RBIs. In 1977, young stars Warren Cromartie, Ellis Valentine and Andre Dawson became full-time outfielders. By June, starting catcher Barry Foote was traded, opening up a regular starting position for Carter behind the plate. He responded with 31 home runs and 84 RBIs. In 1980, Carter clubbed 29 home runs, drove in 101 runs, and earned the first of his three consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He finished second to third baseman Mike Schmidt in NL MVP balloting, whose Phillies took the National League East by one game over the Expos.
Carter caught Charlie Lea‘s no-hitter on May 10, 1981, during the first half of the strike shortened season. The season resumed on Sunday, August 9, 1981 with the All-Star Game. Carter was elected to start his first All Star Game over perennial NL starting catcher Johnny Bench who had moved to play first base that year, and responded with two home runs and being named the game’s MVP. Carter was the fifth and most recent player to hit two home runs in an All-Star Game.
MLB split the 1981 season into two-halves, with the first-place teams
from each half in each division meeting in a best-of-five divisional
playoff series. The four survivors moved on to two best-of-five League Championship Series.
The Expos won the NL East’s second half with a 30–23 record. In his
first post season, Carter batted .421, hit two home runs and drove in
six in the Expos’ three games to two victory over the Phillies in the
division series. Carter’s average improved to .438 in the 1981 National League Championship Series, with no home runs or RBIs, and his Expos lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau,
then prime minister of Canada, once remarked of Carter’s popularity
saying “I am certainly happy that I don’t have to run for election
against Gary Carter.” However some Expos were put off by Carter’s
unabashed enthusiasm, feeling that he was too taken with his image and
basked in his press coverage too eagerly, derisively naming him “Camera
Carter”. Andre Dawson “felt [Carter] was more a glory hound than a team player”.
Carter hit a home run in the 1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
to give the NL a 2–1 lead that they would not relinquish, earning him
his second All-Star game MVP award. Carter’s league leading 106 RBIs,
159 games played, .294 batting average, 175 hits and 290 total bases were personal highs.
The 1984 Expos
finished fifth in the NL East. At the end of the season, the rebuilding
Expos chafed at Carter’s salary demands and traded him to the Mets for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.
New York Mets
In his first game as a Met on April 9, 1985, he hit a tenth-inning home run off Neil Allen to give the Mets a 6–5 Opening Day victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets and Cardinals rivaled for the National League East championship, with Carter and first baseman Keith Hernandez leading the Mets. The season came down to the wire as the Mets won 98 games that season; however, they lost the division to a Cardinals team
that won 101 games. Carter hit a career high 32 home runs and drove in
100 runs his first season in New York. The Mets had three players finish
in the top ten in NL MVP balloting that season (Dwight Gooden 4th, Carter 6th and Hernandez 8th).
A rivalry also developed between the Mets and Carter’s former team,
the Expos. On July 30 while facing the Expos at Shea, Montreal pitcher Bill Gullickson threw a pitch over Carter’s head. Gooden did the same to Gullickson in the bottom of the inning. The Los Angeles Times speculated that Carter caught the ball as if he knew where the pitch was going to end up.
1986 World Series Champions
In 1986, the Mets won 108 games and took the National League East by 211⁄2 games over the Phillies. Carter suffered a postseason slump in the NLCS, batting .148. However, he hit a walk-off RBI single to win Game 5. Carter also had two hits in Game 6 which the Mets won in 16 innings.
The Mets won the 1986 World Series in seven games over the Boston Red Sox. Carter batted .276 with nine RBIs in his first World Series, and hit two home runs over Fenway Park‘s Green Monster
in Game Four. He is the only player to hit two home runs in both an
All-Star Game (1981) and a World Series game. Carter started a two-out
rally in the tenth inning of Game 6, scoring the first of three Mets
runs that inning on a single by Ray Knight. He also hit an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that tied the game. Carter finished third on the NL MVP ballot in 1986.
300 career home runs
Carter batted .235 in 1987, and ended the season with 291 career home runs. He had 299 home runs by May 16 1988 after a fast start, then slumped until August 11 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field
when he hit his 300th. During his home run drought, Carter was named
co-captain of the team with Hernandez, who had been named captain the
Carter ended 1988 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs—his lowest totals
since 1976. He ended the season with 10,360 career putouts as a catcher,
breaking Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan‘s career mark (9941). The Mets won 100 games that season, taking the NL East by fifteen games. However, the heavily favored Mets lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 National League Championship Series. Carter batted .183 in fifty games for the Mets in 1989. In November the Mets released Carter after five seasons, hitting 89 home runs and driving in 349 runs.
Return to Montreal
After leaving the Mets, Carter platooned with catcher Terry Kennedy on the San Francisco Giants in 1990, batting .254 with nine home runs. He found himself again in a pennant race in 1991 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League West.
At the end of the season, Carter returned to Montreal for his final
season off waivers from the Dodgers. Carter was still nicknamed “Kid” by
teammates despite his age. In his last at-bat, he hit a double over the
head of Chicago Cub right-fielder Andre Dawson, the only other player to go into the Hall of Fame as an Expo. The Expos went 87-75 and finished second behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League East.
Carter had a .991 fielding percentage as a catcher and 11,785 career putouts. He ranks sixth all-time in career home runs by a catcher with 298.
After his retirement as a player, Carter served as an analyst for Florida Marlins television broadcasts from 1993 to 1996. He also appeared in the movie The Last Home Run (1998) which was filmed in 1996.
Hall of Fame
|Gary Carter’s number 8 was retired by the Montreal Expos in 2003.|
Carter was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2003, Carter was elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame along with Kirk McCaskill, and his number eight was retired by the Expos and is tacitly recognized on the facade of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C..
In his sixth year on the ballot, Gary Carter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Eddie Murray
on January 7, 2003. Carter had originally expressed a preference during
his final season to be inducted as an Expo. Given the uncertainty of
the Expo franchise, Carter’s employment by the Mets organization since
retiring as a player, his World Series title with the Mets, and his
media celebrity during his stint in New York, following his election
Carter shifted his preference to be enshrined with a Mets cap. The New
York City media strongly supported Carter’s preference to go into the
Hall as a Met. Carter “joked that he wanted his Cooperstown cap to be a
half-and-halfer, split between the Expos and Mets”. The final decision rested with the Hall of Fame, and Hall president Dale Petroskey
declared that Carter’s achievements with the Expos over twelve season
had earned his induction, whereas his five seasons with the Mets by
itself would not have, saying “we want to have represented on the plaque
the team that best represents where a player made the biggest impact in
his career. When you look at it, it’s very clear. Gary Carter is an
important part of the history of the Expos”. Carter was the first Hall of Famer whose plaque depicts him with an Expos logo.
At the induction ceremony, Carter spoke a few words of French, thanking
fans in Montreal for the great honor and pleasure of playing in that
city, while also taking great care to note the Mets’ 1986 championship
as the highlight of his career.
After the Expos moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Washington Nationals following the 2004 season, a banner displaying Carter’s number along with those of Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Rusty Staub was hung from the rafters at the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. While the Mets have not retired number eight, it has remained unused since Carter’s election to the Hall of Fame.
Carter was named Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year his first season managing the Gulf Coast Mets in 2005. A year later, he was promoted to the A-level St. Lucie Mets, and guided his team to the 2006 Florida State League
championship, again earning Manager of the Year honors. In recent
years, Carter has been criticized, most notably by former co-captain
Keith Hernandez, for twice openly campaigning for the Mets’ managerial
position while it was still occupied by incumbents Art Howe in 2004, and in 2008 Willie Randolph.
In 2008, he managed the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League,
and again guided his team to the GBL Championship and was named Manager
of the Year. For the following season Carter was named manager of the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The Ducks won the 2009 second half Liberty Division title, but they were defeated by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Liberty Division playoffs. The next season Carter was named head baseball coach for the NCAA Division II Palm Beach Atlantic University Sailfish.
He and his wife, Sandy, were married in 1975. They had three children.
His daughter Kimmy is the head softball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic and was a softball catcher for Florida State from 1999–2002.
Carter was an active philanthropist. Through The Gary Carter
Foundation, of which Carter was the president, Carter and his staff
support 8 Title I schools in Palm Beach County whose students live in
poverty. Typically, these schools have 90% or more students eligible for
free or reduced lunches. The Foundation seeks to “better the physical,
mental and spiritual well being of children.” To accomplish this, they
advocate “school literacy by encouraging use of the Reading Counts
Program, a program that exists in the Palm Beach County School
District”. Since its inception, The Gary Carter Foundation has placed
over $622,000 toward charitable purposes, including $366,000 to local
elementary schools for their reading programs.
Illness and death
In May 2011, Carter was diagnosed with four malignant
tumors in his brain after complaining of headaches and forgetfulness.
Doctors confirmed that he had a grade IV primary brain tumor known as glioblastoma multiforme.
Doctors said that the extremely aggressive cancer was inoperable and
Carter would undergo other treatment methods to shrink his tumor.
On January 20, 2012, daughter Kimmy posted on her blog that an MRI had
revealed additional tumors on her father’s brain. Even as he battled an
aggressive form of brain cancer, Carter did not miss Opening Day for the
college baseball team he coached.
Carter died of brain cancer on February 16, 2012. He was 57 years old.
On February 25, 2012, the Mets announced that they were adding a
memorial patch to their uniforms in Carter’s honor for the entire 2012
season. The patch features a black home plate with the number 8 and
“KID” inscribed on it. On the Mets’ 2012 opening day, the Carter family unveiled a banner with a similar design on the center field wall of Citi Field.
The NHL‘s Montreal Canadiens, who had purchased the mascot and hung retired numbers in its arena after the Expos relocation to Washington, paid tribute to Gary Carter by presenting a video montage and observing a moment of silence before a game against the New Jersey Devils
on February 20, 2012. All Canadiens players took to the ice during
pre-game warm-ups wearing number 8 Carter jerseys, and Youppi! appeared
wearing an Expos uniform. In addition, Youppi! wore a patch on his
Canadiens jersey featuring a white circle with a blue number 8 inside it
for the remainder of the season. 
Tom Verducci, longtime Sports Illustrated
baseball writer, reminisced about Carter following his death, “I cannot
conjure a single image of Gary Carter with anything but a smile on his
face. I have no recollection of a gloomy Carter, not even as his knees
began to announce a slow surrender … Carter played every day with the
joy as if it were the opening day of Little League.”
“Gary actually took a lot of grief from his teammates for being a
straight arrow. It wasn’t the cool thing to do but on the same token, I
think he actually served as a role model for a lot of these guys as they
aged. He was the ballast of that team. They did have a lot of fun,
there’s no question about that, but they were also one of the fiercest,
most competitive teams I’ve ever seen and obviously their comebacks from
the ’86 postseason defines that team. Carter was a huge part of that.”
Faillon Street W. in Montreal, near the former Jarry Park stadium, has been renamed Gary-Carter Street in his honour.
On March 28, 2014, during an exhibition game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets
at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, QC, a banner was unveiled in honour of
Gary Carter in a special ceremony before the first pitch. Carter’s widow
Sandy and daughter Kimmy were present on field for an emotional video
tribute and the unveiling of the banner on the outfield wall, which
reads “Merci! Thank You!” and contains an image of a baseball overlaid
with Carter’s retired number 8.
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