Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who led the New York Mets to a World Series and was known as “The Kid” for the exuberance he displayed on the field, died on Thursday after battling brain cancer. He was 57.
An 11-time All-Star, Carter spent the bulk of his 19-year MLB career with the Montreal Expos where the curly-haired slugger became one of hockey-mad Canada’s most popular athletes.
A three-time Gold Glove winner, Carter spent his first 11 MLB seasons with Montreal followed by stints win the Mets, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, before returning to the Expos in 1992 to end his career.
Carter played 2,296 games in his career and finished with 324 home runs and 1,225 runs batted in. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, the first player enshrined as a member of the Expos.
Carter was diagnosed last year with an aggressive form of cancer that doctors said was inoperable. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but last month, his family said the tumors had returned.
Carter played with the intensity and fire that endeared him to the home fans, but occasionally rubbed others the wrong way, including some teammates.
Durable and hardworking, he developed a reputation as a smiling assassin who delivered clutch hits and rock-solid defense.
“It’s a grueling position [catcher],” Carter said during his Hall of Fame induction speech. “My knees will tell you that, [but] I can look back and say it’s worth it to be enshrined in Cooperstown.”
While Carter became the boyish face of Canadian baseball, it was in New York where he found his greatest success leading the Mets to a World Series in 1986.
That season Carter drove in 105 runs, one shy of his career best, and 24 homers, but produced his best in the World Series after New York dropped the opening two games.
Carter drove in three runs in Game 3 then swatted two home runs in Game 4 as the Mets battled back to level the best-of-seven series.
Boston won Game 5, setting the stage for more drama as Carter, with the Mets down to their last out, sparked a 10th inning rally that ended with New York winning on a Mookie Wilson grounder that infamously squirted through Bill Buckner’s legs.
The Mets went on to win the World Series in seven games.