While watching the four-part ESPN documentary “Once Upon A Time In Queens” about the 1986 New York Mets, I enjoyed seeing a lot more footage of former Mets catcher Gary Carter than I had ever seen before. The first part of the doc featured some background on many of the essential characters on the ‘86 Mets, including Carter. I already knew that he was very religious and that his teammates teased him for his camera readiness, but one clip of Carter in a Newsday commercial highlighted in the doc caught my attention.
As soon as this clip flashed before me on my TV, I was struck by how earnest and upbeat Carter sounded, almost as if he’d do anything to please the person watching at home. It immediately reminded me of one current Met who has a strikingly similar on-camera presence: Brandon Nimmo.
Throughout Nimmo’s Mets tenure, which stretches back to his first-round Draft selection in 2011, he has been known for his happy-go-lucky nature and his wide smile.
As Nimmo gained more regular playing time over the past few years, SNY was evidently inspired by his do-good personality and crafted several series of videos based entirely on Nimmo’s wholesome reputation and Wyoming upbringing.
In all of these clips, he demonstrates an earnestness and campiness that harkens directly back to that Newsday commercial with Carter, or this Newsday commercial with Carter, or any of the numerous other commercials that Carter did while with the Mets (check out this Ivory soap one as another worthy comparison)
In one of the first SNY videos based mostly around Nimmo’s personality, he is being repeatedly “coached,” or rather, scolded by Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling (both of whom were teammates with Carter in the ‘80s) for not being tough enough.
This seemed to spur a series of “Amazin Life” videos all centered on Nimmo as a nice guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Take this video with New Jersey native Todd Frazier from 2019 as another example of Nimmo’s demeanor sticking out like a very happy sore thumb.
Obviously, Carter played for the Mets long before the Internet existed in this form, but I can’t shake the feeling that if this type of video series was around in his day, he would have happily and enthusiastically starred in one. After all, we are talking about the guy who once did an ad for 7Up soda with his daughter, Christy, while in full uniform with the Montreal Expos.
Was that commercial a bit campy and cheesy? Of course! But based on the other ads that Carter had done around that time, it was far from out of character. Nimmo is not yet a parent, but if you mentally sub him in for Carter in this ad (ignoring the fact that Nimmo isn’t a catcher), it runs almost as smoothly.
And let’s not forget that Nimmo has played Santa Claus at several Mets Christmas parties in recent years. Who else on the current roster would be worthy of such an honor? If that tradition had been around in the ‘80s, I’m extremely confident that Carter would have played Santa. In fact, I’m willing to bet two Newsdays and a 7Up on it.
In many respects, Carter and Nimmo are a rather unnatural pairing of past and present Mets. Carter was a Hall of Famer who played for nearly 20 years and was one of the best catchers of his generation. Nimmo, while extremely talented and known for getting on base and scampering to first on walks, has not put together a Hall of Fame-caliber career through his first six seasons. Carter was also known for his leadership, a quality that while Nimmo may very well possess, he has yet to truly demonstrate while in a Mets uniform.
Still, based on personality and on-screen presence alone, Nimmo bears a closer resemblance to Carter than any other Mets player in my memory.
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Seeing Carter light up the screen in “Once Upon A Time In Queens” reminded me that today’s Mets, like the boisterous ‘86 bunch, are certainly not lacking in personality or likability. Now, all the Mets need to do is win another World Series, and fans can truly let the ‘86 comparisons fly.