Catch The Rising Star

It was rather fitting that Channel 9 had a theme song for the Mets in 1985, called “Catch the Rising Stars.”

The country sounding tune was a intended for the young Mets like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, but in reality the Mets wanted you to catch their brightest star Gary Carter.

The Hall of Fame catcher died today after a about a nine month bout with brain cancer. Although he played on the Mets for just five years – and mainly as his prime was fading – his impact was felt throughout, not only the organization, but all of Mets Nation.

“No one loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter,” said fellow Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in a statement released by the Mets. “No one enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played. He gave you 110 percent and played the most grueling position on the field and that was something special.”

The loudest cheers at the Rangers games tonight were for Carter, who received a standing ovation from the crowd when his passing was announced, while the Montreal Canadiens paid tribute to his time playing north of the border.

All of this for one of the best catchers of his generation. Carter was the final piece to the puzzle, acquired in December, 1984 for four players, to make the Mets into a champion.

“The genesis of the trade was that we wanted to add a big bat to the lineup,” said former Mets GM Frank Cashen in a statement. “He did that right away, but perhaps more importantly was the way he handled our young pitchers. He was the perfect guy for so many reasons.”

“I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound including location, what pitch to throw and when,” Doc Gooden said in a statement. “Even when I didn’t have my best stuff, he found a way to get me through the game. He was just a warrior on the field.”

When he came to the Mets, he made the Mets stable of young talented pitchers into stars. He elevated Gooden’s game in 1985, so he had one of the best seasons in the history of baseball and forced Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez to pitch inside, something the young pitchers were shy to do the year before.

Then there was his presence at the plate. Carter made the Mets lineup complete. With George Foster making the Jason Bay signing look good, the team needed a right handed hitting cleanup hitter. That was Carter, who provided protection for Keith Hernandez and took pressure off of Darryl Strawberry, allowing the mercurial right fielder to develop.

With the trade, the stage was set and Carter shined on the biggest. On opening day in 1985, Carter hit a walk off homer off former Met Neil Allen to star off his career and let’s not forget his walk off hit in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS or his two home runs in Game 4 of the World Series at Fenway Park.

And let’s not forget the rally in the 10th inning of Game 6 at Shea Stadium.

“I didn’t want to make the last out and I always maintained the theory – it’s not over ‘til it’s over,” Carter would say back in 2004. “I just went up there with the feeling of confidence and doing the best I possibly could and I was able to come through. Then Kevin Mitchell followed and then Ray Knight. Before you know it the ball went through Buckner’s legs and we had won Game 6. To me, I just go up there and remember my career. It was never a grind. It was an enjoyment. It’s amazing to think 18 years and how quickly it passed. I just went up there and said there was no way we should lose this World Series. I did everything to keep us alive.”

All during that time, Carter was the Met who had the biggest smile in the biggest market. If he was on your team, you loved him and if you rooted for another club, you hated him.

Simply put he was the symbol of the Mets in the 1980s and not a rising star but the one the shined the brightest.

He will be missed.

Posted under Brain Cancer, Brightest Star, Channel 9, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Dwight Gooden, Fellow Hall, Frank Cashen, Hall Of Fame, Joe Mcdonald, Mets Gm, Montreal Canadiens, New York Mets, Pitchers, Playing The Game, Rising Star, Standing Ovation, Tom Seaver, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on February 17, 2012

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Hall of Fame Catcher Gary Carter Dead at 57

The baseball world is mourning the passing of Gary Carter. The 57 year old former catcher died from brain cancer on Thursday, February 16.  An announcement was made by his daughter, Kimmy Bloomers on the website of his family at 4:10 pm.

In May 2011, it was publicly revealed that the baseball great had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Carter had been undergoing treatment for the disease since its discovery. In the third week of January, it was announced that Carter’s condition had worsened as additional tumors were found.

Despite the reality of his worsened health, Carter recently made a visit to his players at Palm Beach Atlantic University where he served as baseball coach for the past two years.

The Baseball Writers’ of America (BBWAA) awarded Carter its Milton/Arthur Richman Good Guy Award at its annual dinner in New York on January 21. As Carter was unable to travel from Florida to accept the honor, Carter’s award was accepted by his son, D.J. who read his father’s speech.

The speech was a testimonial to Carter’s feelings and connection to New York City, “I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the people and city of New York. I have nothing but fond memories of my time here in New York, highly lighted, of course, with the World Series championship in 1986. I still remember the feeling of riding in the World Series parade with over one million people lining the streets to celebrate our championship. The fans were always supportive of me and my family since my diagnosis of brain cancer in May of 2011.”

Although, Carter only played in New York with the Mets for five of his 19 seasons, those years are well remembered by the fans in New York. Carter was obtained before the 1985 season after playing a decade with the Montreal Expos, where he was one of the team’s most popular players.

Although “The Kid” was 31 years old when he came to the Mets and his personality and lifestyle did not mesh smoothly with some of the more raucous men on the squad, he was a vital part of the successful team. The Mets were World Series champs in Carter’s second year in New York. Carter contributed mightily to that World Series victory with nine runs batted in.

Large numbers of New York baseball fans, whether of the Mets or Yankees, remember with great fondness and respect, Carter’s outstanding years in the city. Lifelong Yankees fans Bill Stimers said of the Kid, “Carter turned the 1986 World Series around. He was a great player and a very fine person. We will always miss him. We pray for his family.”

Carter’s eventful years in New York ended as did the 80’s. He played the next two seasons in the state of his birth, California. He was with the San Francisco Giants in 1990 and in 1991 he played with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He concluded his outstanding career in the majors in 1992 with the organization that drafted him 20 years earlier, the Montreal Expos. Carter once recalled his career’s end in Montreal, “It was a good way for my career to end going back to the team where my career originated.”

Carter performed admirably during two decades as a major leaguer. He scored 1,025 runs and hit safely 2,092 times in 2,296 games. The dependable power hitter blasted 324 homers and drove in 1,225 runs.

His impressive stats were not compiled through longevity alone but by his outstanding play on a yearly basis. In his rookie season, Carter was runner-up to hurler John Montefusco in the voting for the NL Rookie-of-the Year. The catcher was a National League All-Star in 11 seasons. His hitting earned him the Silver Slugger five times. His ability behind the plate was rewarded with a Gold Glove for three seasons.

The achievements of Carter’s career in baseball were rewarded by a place in the pantheon of heroes in Cooperstown, New York. Carter was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2003. He is the only player inducted into the HOF wearing an expos cap.

The devoted family man is survived by Sandy, his wife of my than 30 years, and three children, Christy, Kimmy and DJ.

Posted under Annual Dinner, Baseball Coach, Baseball World, Baseball Writers, Bbwaa, Bloomers, Brain Cancer, Fond Memories, Hall Of Fame, Mets, New York Mets, One Million, Place In My Heart, Richman, Series Parade, Top Story, Undergoing Treatment

Do The Right Thing Mets And Retire No. 8

With all the Madoff talk, lawsuits, minority buyers, and New Yorker article talk surrounding the New York Mets, it would be hard to believe the club could every do the right thing.

But now the opportunity is staring them right in the face.

Officially retire Gary Carter’s No. 8.

With the news coming out today that “The Kid” has malignant tumors in his brain, the best way of showing Carter how much everyone cares during his fight. Carter was a key cog of the 1986 club, who meant so much to Met fans during his five years in Flushing, so an on the field celebration of his career would be a way of giving back.

If Carter starts to feel well enough to get to New York, this would be the ultimate pick me up for the Hall of Fame catcher. Any type of cancer is not easy to deal with, but brain cancer is the worst.  The best way of keeping his spirits up would be keeping his mind off the disease and show him how much he is loved.

Carter was a special player for the Mets. Without him, the young pitchers, like Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and even Doc Gooden to an extent, don’t develop as quickly. No Carter means no World Series in 1986, even with the stacked lineup for the Mets.

And the club knows that. No. 8 has not been issued since 2002, the year before Carter when into the Hall – when Matt Galante wore it. If Carter was inducted as a Met, then the club would have retired his number, but because he went in as an Expo – and rightfully so – there was no number retirement ceremony that summer, only a ceremony to honor “The Kid.”

But No. 8 stays dormant, much like Mike Piazza’s No. 31 and even Willie Mays’s No. 24. You can probably expect the Mets to retire 31 someday – in fact I was told it is on the eventual agenda for the franchise – and 24 probably will stay dormant as long as Rickey Henderson is away from the club.

Yet, there has been no explanation about No. 8. The Mets should just retire it or reissue it, instead of keeping it in some sort of limbo.

And if they want to retire it, this year is a perfect opportunity. Being the 25th anniversary of the 1986 club, the Mets can bring back the whole team for one last hurrah. They can retire No. 8 for Carter, while giving the whole team a day in their honor. An added bonus for the club would be a sellout crowd at Citi Field, something that’s a rarity these days, helping the Wilpon coffers as they try to pull out of the financial mess.

It would be win-win for the Mets and frankly the right thing to do.

With Mets management acting like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight these last few years, this is an opportunity to gets some good baseball related public relations for the club.

More importantly, though, it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s Mookie Wilson’s reaction on Gary Carter.

Posted under Brain Cancer, Cog, Do The Right Thing, Doc Gooden, Hall Of Fame, Joe Mcdonald, Malignant Tumors, Matt Galante, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Number Retirement, Pitchers, Retirement Ceremony, Rickey Henderson, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Top Story, Type Of Cancer, Yorker Article

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 27, 2011

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