On December 10, 1984, the New York Mets traded Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Gary Carter. Even though Brooks was a homegrown fan favorite, the addition of Carter to the 1985 squad instantly made the Mets a team to beat.
Carter was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1972 draft. He would make his Major League debut two years later, collecting 29 PA’s while posting a .407/.414/.593 line. The catcher would never hit .400 again, but from 1975 to 1984, Carter averaged a .271/.344/.460 line with 21 HR, 79 RBI, and 68 R while taking six trips to the All-Star game, and finishing in the MVP voting five times.
The oft-smiling Californian immediately won over New York fans by swatting an impressive .281/.365/.488 line with 32 HR, 100 RBI, and 83 R for the 1985 Mets. Even with a dazzling 98-64 record, the team was still three wins behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the East Division, and subsequently missed the playoffs. But the Mets’ shortcoming in 1985 only motivated the talented team the following season.
In 1986, the Mets surged to claim first place, besting the second placed Philadelphia Phillies by a whopping 21.5 games. This was much in part to Carter’s bat (.255/.337/.439 line with 24 HR, 105 RBI, and 81 R), glove (combined 3.45 ERA, just 5 passed balls, and 28% CS%), and of course, leadership. The Mets would not only make the playoffs for the first time since 1973, but eventually win their second career World Series.
“The Kid,” now 33 years-old, started to see his once fine skills begin to deteriorate. From 1987 to 1989, he owned a miserable .231/.288/.363 line–a far cry from his Expos days, and even his first two seasons in orange and blue. And even though Carter made two All-Star appearances during those final years, it’s fair to say that the trips were due to his popularity–not his production. Carter would play three more seasons–for the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and then retiring with the Montreal Expos at age 38. Regardless of his latter year fade, the veteran catcher had done his duty for the Metropolitans. He helped turn the Mets from a misguided laughing stock into a respectable win-machine. To this day, Gary Carter remains as one of the most beloved players in New York Mets history, and his Hall of Fame status speaks to his unique career.