LOS ANGELES - FILE: Gary Carter #8 of the Montreal Expos stands ready at the plate during a game against the Dodgers on July 8, 1992 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. According to reports on May 21, 2011, Carter has four small tumors on his brain. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Gary Carter's daughter is saying that Gary's brain tumors are 'inoperable'. It doesn't sound good.
I've mentioned before that Gary Carter was my favorite player when I was young. The first jersey I ever bought was a Expos jersey with Carter's number on it. Then, of course, he was traded a little while after that. It seems to be the way it works. If you see your name on the back of a jersey I wear, start packing your bags.
The one signed baseball item I have is a ball signed by Carter. It was a couple of years ago on Father's Day, when the team he was managing visited Calgary to play the Vipers. It was nice to get a chance to tell him what a big fan I was.
Gary was one of those rare catchers that played great defense, had a great arm and was an offensive force. The Expos played the hell out of him, he played 150+ games in several of the years he was with Montreal. It didn't do his knees a lot of good, but then, with free agency, the team didn't own his future, so they didn't have incentive to do things to extend his career.
His career numbers don't look all that impressive, looking back past the steroid era, but Carter was the best catcher in baseball in his time. Bill James, in his Historical Abstract, ranked Carter as the 6th best catcher in MLB history. Cater was the first player elected to the Hall of Fame with an Expo cap, not that he wouldn't have rather had a Met cap. He was an 11 time All-Star, he made the team 10 times in a row, from 1979 to 1988.
I'll always remember the day he was traded, it was announced on Monday Night Football. Howard Cosell read the news during the game. Gary Carter traded to the Mets for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. He kept saying that there must be something more coming to the Expos. That they couldn't trade Carter for a bunch of scrubs. But they did. Part of it was a salary dump. Part of it was that bad teams tend to blame their best player if the team doesn't have the success they hoped to have, 'He can't really be that good, we haven't won the World Series with him'. The Mets found a way to win a World Series with him. Things went downhill for the Expos after that.
Gary wasn't universally loved by his teammates. He was always smiling, always upbeat. He got the lion's share of the attention from the media in Montreal. He was always willing to do the interviews. He was a self promoter. His teammates would suggest that he always knew when the camera was on him. I don't know, I always liked players that were smiling, that were having fun on the field. I figure, if you can't be happy getting paid that much money for playing a game, you are doing something wrong.
He would have loved to have been a manager in the majors. He openly campaigned for the Mets' job, which didn't win him a lot of love. It seems some how wrong to publicly go after a job like that. He managed in the Mets system and then for various independent league teams.
For me, he was the guy that hit cleanup for my favorite team. The Kid that hit the big home runs. The one that hit great for my Expos the one year they made the playoffs. He hit .426 with 2 home funs and 5 walks for a .500 OBP in the two rounds of playoffs they made before losing out to the Dodgers, on the Blue Monday game. Rick Monday hit a 9th inning home run to give the Dodgers the lead in the 5th game of the best of 5 series. Carter took a walk in the bottom of the inning. I remember him turning to cheer on Tim Wallach, batting behind him, as he was going to first. Wallach took a walk too, but that's as close as they got.
The background on my computer is a picture of me with Gary Carter and my youngest boy.
I'll hope the best for Gary and his family.