Memories of Gary Carter on what would’ve been his 60th birthday


Today would’ve been Mets great and Hall of Famer Gary Carter‘s 60th birthday.

“The Kid,” who passed away on February 16th, 2012, was beloved by Mets fans.

Here are some memories of Gary:

Mike Lecolant, Staff Writer:

With the Expos, I knew Gary Carter as a fierce competitor, and not the camera hound people made him out to be.  For as long as Carlton Fisk, and especially Johnny Bench, were still active, Carter remained vastly underrated.  It wasn’t till he dominated a pair of All-Star games that he finally started getting the recognition he deserved.

I became a huge fan of Hubie Brooks, and was sorry to see him traded away, but the thrill of acquiring Carter trumped all.  In fact, I couldn’t believe our luck in acquiring both Keith Hernandez and Carter within two years of each-other.  He made the Mets lineup so formidable.  He was an ideal clean-up hitter, and thus, the perfect player at the perfect time.

Camera hound or not, Gary was a nice guy, but he was also tough.  I had pity for those who tried knocking him over at home plate.  He was an immovable Mack truck.  He also had soft hands, and handled the Mets young pitchers brilliantly.  Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, and company drew so much confidence from him.

Carter to the Mets was akin to the planets aligning over Flushing.  His time here was short, as we got him towards the end of his career.  But, while with the Mets, he was as big a star as there was.

He started the Game Six rally in the 1986 World Series, and also brought the team to life with two clouts in Game Four.  The Mets perhaps do not win their second championship without him.

Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer:

Written on February 18th, 2012…

As the eulogies poured out over the internet the last day and a half, I didn’t feel I could add anything to the pot. I never saw Gary Carter play, let alone in his prime. My experience of Gary Carter is from reruns, and I can only go off what others say they saw in the man in person. But as I read all there is to read around the internet about The Kid, I remembered an article I read a couple weeks ago that I believe says it best about the man.

Down the street and to the right of Palm Beach Atlantic University was my 293 Cordova Road home in West Palm Beach, Florida from 1991 to 1995. Gary Carter was the manager for this school’s baseball team recently, and a couple weeks ago he made his final public appearance on opening day for the Sailfish. He looked frail, sitting in the golf cart as everyone approached him. While his body struggled for survival, life was filled throughout his being, and that Million-Dollar Smile that lit up so many photographs and an ivory soap commercial wasn’t going anywhere.

He is not only filled with life, he fills everyone around him with life. No matter how close to death he is, he and nobody around him is going to let his sickness ruin loving life and every day you have, because that is what it is all about. And while unfortunately he could only stay 3 innings, the Sailfish won 3-2 in the 9th inning, a win The Kid I’m sure was proud of.

I don’t know about you, but I think of death every day. I believe it keeps me grounded and less angry and helps put things in perspective. And we all think of it more when such a fantastic life is cut short. But that smile, that smile that irked so many players in the 70’s and 80’s, that is what it is all about. Love life and every minute of it, and always strive to make yourself better, always strive to evolve, no matter your age. And while we all need to vent sometimes, we should more often than not have that same smile on our face that The Kid has. Because life is awesome. And so is Number 8.

Rich Sparago, Staff Writer:

As the early 1980s progressed, it was apparent that the Mets were building something special. The 1983 acquisition of Keith Hernandez served notice that the Mets were to be taken seriously once again. Hernandez joined Wally Backman, Rafael Santana, and Hubie Brooks to create a formidable infield. The dynamic Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra anchored the outfield, along with the powerful Darryl Strawberry. The pitching was young and strong, but the Mets were missing an element, a star catcher (with all due respect to Mike Fitzgerald).

In December of 1984, Frank Cashen solved that problem by trading Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans to the Expos for Gary Carter. Mets fans had admired Carter from afar. He was clearly in command of the game, hit for power, and had a cannon of a throwing arm. It was hard to fathom that Carter was available via trade, let alone within the division. Yet, the Mets had him, and he didn’t disappoint. He brought the team to the 1986 World Championship, starting the game-winning rally in the bottom of the 10th of game 6. Though his skills sharply declined after the 1987 season (injuries were a part of that), Carter etched a permanent spot in Mets lore.

On the personal side, I went to see the Mets in San Diego in 1987. After a game, I was in a bar, and Carter walked in. He sat outside, and I mustered the courage to approach him. I told him that my buddies and I came for the whole road trip, and he asked me to sit and join him and his friend (who happened to be Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke). Gary Carter just asked me to have a drink with him!! We talked about 1986, his never-say-die approach that led to his single in game 6, the 1987 team, and we spent quite a bit of time on Mark Carreon (a bench player in 1987 whom I liked). Yes, you’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again. Gary Carter was a gracious gentleman.

Rest in peace, Kid. Thank you for all of your contributions to the Mets, and the memories you gave to the fans.

Danny Abriano, Editor:

I was born the year before the Mets acquired Gary Carter, and turned three on the day the Mets won the 1986 World Series – meaning most of my memories of Carter as a Met in his playing days come from films.

One of those films is the 1986 video “A Year To Remember,” that I would pop into my VCR (remember those?) on an almost weekly basis when I was growing up.

The Gary Carter in that video – the one with the wide smile, thunderous bat, encouraging words for teammates, and fierce competitiveness, was the one those who saw him play on a daily basis remember him as.

I was fortunate enough to meet Gary Carter at a 1986 Mets reunion in 1999.

The day was over (as far as the time the players had allotted was concerned) and most of Carter’s former teammates had already cleared out. We were told when getting on line to meet Gary that there was a chance he’d leave before he was able to get to everyone. If you knew about Gary, though, you knew that wouldn’t be the case.

Gary not only stayed to meet everyone, he had little conversations with all of them and stood up to pose for pictures with all those who asked.

Gary Carter was a true professional on and off the field, and he’s missed.

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