With great sadness and love for one of the most beloved Mets players of all time, Gary Carter leaves us at the young age of 57. He leaves us with the greatest of Mets memories most Mets fans can recall from this franchise. Thank you Gary.
Gary was, as Frank Cashen called it, the last piece to the puzzle of the miraculous 80’s team, one that will go down in history as one of the best in baseball. Gary was the rock that held that team together. He was the veteran presence within a bad boy motley crew of players that played with their hearts, guts, and emotion every single night. Gary was the good man, a player and man all his ex-teammates with they could be like. A true tremendous role model and family guy.
He was the perfect veteran for the young Mets pitching staff he acquired. He molded and guided them, a staff that will go down as the best Mets pitching staff of all time, and one of the best in baseball history. A pitching staff he deserved to catch, it was meant to be.
Gary Carter made the Mets complete, respected, and feared. But most of all, he made the Mets a winner.
#8 was on the team I fell in love with as a kid. He was a huge reason for the happiness that team brought to my childhood. For this I will always be thankful for the great memories. But there was one memory that has shaped my life as a Mets fan. The one that swept me off my feet the way I never knew possible.
The Mets were about to lose the World Series to the Red Sox. Game 6, 2-outs, bottom of the tenth inning and Mets trailing 5-3, and down three games to two in the series. There I was, and 11 year old boy standing there in the living room, on a school night, with the tears forming in the eyes ready for the let down. I didn’t want to watch, but couldn’t not watch, my eyes plastered to the screen with my heart pounding with no idea of the jubilation I was about to experience.
Two outs. Gary Carter insisting to his teammates prior to coming up to bat that under no circumstances was he going to make the final out. Not him, not on this night. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
“I wasn’t going to make the last f—— out of the World Series,” is the way the late Bill Robinson, the first base coach that night, told it, and Darling has always wanted to believe that Kid said it exactly that way.
It was The Kid who ignited the rally as he lines a 2-1 Calvin Schiraldi fastball to Center Field. The Mets have life. The hits continued. Kevin Mitchell singled. Ray Knight singled. Then it was Mookie Wilson’s turn. And little did us fans know at that time, this was destiny. The Mets had this one in the bag. Nothing was stopping this team. Not even a slow roller routine dribbler to first base. We know what happens next.
Nothing in the world meant more to me on that very moment. I had just experienced a sports miracle. I was touched. I was part of it in my own little way. It was probably the experience that was made me always believe that anything can happen in sports.
Thank you Gary. Thank you KID. We will never experience anything like that ever. It’s just not possible.
With that, let’s celebrate our number 8, the KID. The guy who insisted to going into the Hall of Fame as a Mets player, only to be forced to go in as an Expo by the powers that be. Yes he was an Expos player for 11 years and only 5 as a Mets player. But we know he was a true Mets at heart. We know that he is in the Hall of Fame because of what he did with the Mets. Let’s not kid ourselves.
Keith Hernandez: “He always had a love for life and a love for baseball. He always played in a lot of pain. . . . He was a very brave man, a man of faith. He walked the walk as well as talked the talk when it came to his faith.”
Wally Backman: Minutes after learning that the teammate he considered a big brother had died Thursday of brain cancer at 57 years old, Backman sighed and said, “If I could go back in time and mold myself like Gary Carter . . .”
“He was a big brother figure to a lot of us,” Backman said. “He was one of our leaders.”
Lenny Dykstra: “When I first came aboard, I think I was out drinking with Wally Backman,” Lenny Dykstra said. “We were on the road, and I said to Wally, ‘I’m going to wake up Carter.’ I was mule-kicking his hotel door. The Kid was nice, never cussed. But he picked me up like a child, pinned me against the wall – ‘You ever do this again . . .’ I saw the fire in his eyes, dude.
“It doesn’t make sense why a guy like that, one who ends up with a great family . . . there’s nothing really else I can say. He was a Hall Of Famer, and he played the game right. Kid and Mex (Hernandez) were the f—– hearts of that (’86) team.”
Dwight Gooden via Twitter: “My batterymate, my friend, Iam so blessed to have played with & can call Gary my friend he meant a lot to me on & off the field with the way . . . he battled his fight to the end gives me alot of strength & faith to battle mine, we will always be connected at the hip RIP my brother…..”
Mookie Wilson: “Gary was one of the happiest guys in the world every day,”
Davey Johnson “He seized every opportunity to savor what mattered most to him: his close-knit, loving family; meaningful, enduring friendships; an unbridled passion for baseball; and the fulfillment he felt from making a difference in his community,” said Davey Johnson, manager of the 1986 Mets team and current skipper of the Washington Nationals, in a statement. “Gary’s brave battle has ended, but his from-the-gut laughter will be heard and his vitality and spirit will be felt forever. I loved him very much, and I know he is finally at peace.”
Mets statement: “He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field,” the Mets said in a statement. “His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes. He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”
RIP #8, we love you KID!
Gary Carter dead much too young as NY Mets family mourns the loss of this Amazin’ Kid [New York Daily News]
Death of Mets legend Gary Carter hits ex-teammate Keith Hernandez hard [New York Daily News]
Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter hies at age of 57 [ESPN]
Gary Carter forever a kid at heart [ESPN]