Hall Of Famer Gary Carter passed away earlier today, finally succumbing to brain cancer. Though occasionally mocked in this corner for openly coveting Willie Randolph’s job while Randolph was still employed as Mets manager, Carter was deeply loved by yours truly…and probably all Mets fans circa 1985-1989. His acquisition from Montreal in 1985 might not have been the transformative transaction that was Keith Hernandez’s arrival two seasons earlier, but The Kid was the perfect addition for a young pitching staff on the rise. There’s no World Series victory in ’86 without Gary Carter, and along with Hernandez, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, he’ll forever be remember as one of the key figures on Mets squads that (briefly) relegated the Yankees to 2nd class status in New York.
Of course, that’s only what he accomplished in Flushing. As Gary Cohen said on SNY earlier today, “if Johnny Bench was the National League catcher of the 1970’s, Gary Carter was the catcher of the ’80’s”, and the latter’s production for the Montreal Expos would’ve made him a megastar had he been playing stateside. Once ensconced in New York, however, there was no escaping Carter’s perm/smile/leadership (see examples of two of the three above). On a club that we’ve since learned was filled with unabashed party animals (whose exploits might’ve been received very differently in the age of Twitter and You Tube), Carter’s nice guy routine was from all accounts, not an act. Here’s to his family, friends, teammates, and all of us lucky enough to have marveled at his achievements.