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Gary Edmund Carter (born April 8, 1954), nicknamed "Kid", or "Kid Carter" is a Hall of Fame Major League Baseball catcher from 1974–1992. During his career, Carter established himself as one of the premier catchers in the National League, winning three Gold Glove awards and five Silver Slugger awards. Carter and Andre Dawson are the only players from the Expos to have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Carter was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a shortstop in the third round of the 1972 Major League Baseball Draft. Prior to signing with the Expos, he had signed a letter of intent to play football at UCLA. Carter recalled how he got his nickname, saying,
The Expos converted Carter to a catcher in the minor leagues. In 1974, he clubbed 23 home runs and drove in 83 runs for the Expos' triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Blues. Following a September call-up, Carter made his major league debut in Parc Jarry in Montreal in the second game of a double header against the New York Mets on September 16. Despite going 0-4 in that game, Carter's hitting improved dramatically after that. For the season, Carter batted .407 (11-27), hitting his first major league home run on September 28 against Steve Carlton in a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Carter split time between right field and catching his rookie season (1975), and was selected for the National League All-Star team as a right fielder. Though he did not get an at bat during the game, he came into the game as a defensive replacement for Pete Rose in the ninth inning, and caught Rod Carew's fly ball for the final out of the NL's 6-3 victory.
Carter hit .270 with 17 home runs and 68 runs batted in, and finished second to San Francisco Giants pitcher John Montefusco for the National League Rookie of the Year award and receiving The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award.
Carter again split time in the outfield and behind the plate in 1976, however, a broken finger limited him to just 91 games, in which he batted .219 with six home runs and 38 RBIs. For 1977, new Expos manager Dick Williams gave promising young stars Warren Cromartie, Ellis Valentine and Andre Dawson outfield jobs. On June 15, the Expos traded starting catcher Barry Foote to the Phillies, and Carter was given a permanent home behind the plate. He responded with 31 home runs and 84 RBIs.
In 1980, Carter clubbed 29 home runs, drove in 101 runs, and earned the first of his three consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He finished second to third baseman Mike Schmidt in NL MVP balloting, whose Phillies took the National League East by one game over the Expos.
Carter caught Charlie Lea's no-hitter on May 10, 1981, during the first half of the strike shortened season. Following the two month strike, the season resumed on Sunday, August 9, 1981 with the All-Star Game. Carter was elected to start his first All Star Game over perennial NL starting catcher Johnny Bench, and responded with two home runs and being named the game's MVP. Carter was the fifth (and latest to date) player to hit two home runs in an All-Star Game, joining Arky Vaughan (1941), Ted Williams (1946), Al Rosen (1954) & Willie McCovey (1969).
MLB team owners decided to split the 1981 season into two halves, with the first-place teams from each half in each division meeting in a best-of-five divisional playoff series. The four survivors would then move on to the two best-of-five League Championship Series. It was the first time that Major League Baseball used a split-season format since 1892. The Expos won the NL East's second half with a 30-23 record.
In his first post season, Carter batted .421, clubbed two home runs and drove in six in the Expos' three games to two victory over the Phillies in the division series. Carter's average improved to .438 in the 1981 National League Championship Series, however, he had no home runs or RBIs, and his Expos lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.
Carter hit a second inning home run in the 1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game to give the NL a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish, and earn Carter his second All-Star game MVP award. Carter's 159 games played, .294 batting average, 175 hits and 290 total bases were all personal highs, as was his league leading 106 RBIs.
Despite these numbers from Carter, the 1984 Expos finished fifth in the NL East with a 78-83 record. Needing to rebuild, the Expos traded Carter at the end of the season to the New York Mets for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.
In his first game as a Met on April 9, 1985, he hit a tenth inning walk-off home run off Neil Allen to give the Mets a 6-5 Opening Day victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets and Cardinals became embroiled in a heated rivalry atop the National League East, with Carter and first baseman Keith Hernandez leading the charge for the Mets. The season came down to the wire as the Mets won 98 games that season, however, they narrowly lost the division to a Cardinals team that won 101 games. Carter clubbed a career high 32 home runs and drove in 100 runs his first season in New York. The Mets had three players finish in the top ten in NL MVP balloting that season (Dwight Gooden 4th, Carter 6th and Hernandez 8th). Meanwhile, the "Redbirds" placed four players in the top ten (Tommy Herr 5th, John Tudor tied Hernandez at 8th, Jack Clark 10th and winner Willie McGee), as well as having the eleventh place finisher (Vince Coleman).
Something of a rivalry developed between the Mets and Expos as well as a result of Carter's departure from Montreal. On July 30, while facing the Expos at Shea, Montreal pitcher Bill Gullickson sailed a pitch over Carter's head in the fifth inning, which drew boos from the Shea Stadium crowd. Though he denied it was retaliation, Gooden did the same to Gullickson in the bottom of the inning. Interestingly, Carter caught the ball as if he knew exactly where the pitch was going to end up.
Carter and the Mets would not be denied in 1986, winning 108 games and taking the National League East convincingly by 21.5 games over the Phillies. The Mets won the 1986 World Series in seven games over the Boston Red Sox. Carter batted .276 with nine RBIs in his first World Series, and crushed two home runs over Fenway Park's Green Monster in Game four of the Series, giving him the distinction of being the only player to date to have hit two home runs in All-Star Game (1981) and two home runs in a World Series Game.
Carter will be forever remembered by Mets fans as the man who started the now legendary two out rally in the tenth inning of game six. Carter came around to score the first of three Mets runs that inning on a single by Ray Knight, as the Mets would defeat the Red Sox in one of the most famous games in baseball history. Carter also hit an eighth inning run scoring sacrifice fly forced the game to go into extra innings.
On the Mets' World Champion team, Carter and Hernandez finished third and fourth, respectively, in NL MVP balloting.
Carter batted only .235 in 1987, and ended the season with 291 career home runs. He seemed determined to hit 300 career home run immediately, clubbing eight home runs by May 16 1988. However, it would take him until August 11 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to reach the milestone. During his home run drought, Carter was named co-captain of the team with Hernandez, who had been named captain the previous season.
Carter ended the season with eleven home runs and 46 RBIs-- both the lowest totals he'd put up in either category going back to his sophomore season in 1976. He also ended the season with 10,360 career putouts as a catcher, breaking Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan's career mark (9941).
The Mets won 100 games that season, taking the NL East by fifteen games over the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, both Hernandez and Carter were in the twilights of their careers, and the heavily favored Mets lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 National League Championship Series. Carter batted only .183 in fifty games for the Mets in 1989. On November 13, the Mets released Carter-- a day after Keith Hernandez was granted free agency. Carter would play five seasons with the Mets hitting 89 home runs and driving in 349 runs.
After leaving the Mets, Carter enjoyed something of a resurgence in a platoon role with Terry Kennedy on the San Francisco Giants in 1990, batting .254 with nine home runs. Carter found himself again in a pennant race in 1991, signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His club finished 93-69, one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League West.
At the end of the season, Carter returned to Montreal for his Swan song when the Expos selected Carter off waivers from the Dodgers. Carter was still nicknamed "Kid" by teammates despite his age of 38. The Expos 23-year-old second baseman Delino DeShields told Carter, "I grew up on you, man. You were like Wheaties to me. Eat my Wheaties and watch Gary Carter play baseball." 37 games into the 1992 season, the Expos fired manager Tom Runnells and replaced him with Felipe Alou. With Alou at the helm, the Expos went 70-55 and finished second behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League East.
Carter had a .991 fielding percentage as a catcher and 11,785 career putouts. He ranks sixth all-time in career home runs by a catcher with 298.
After his retirement, Carter served as an analyst for Florida Marlins television broadcasts from 1993-1996. He appeared in the movie The Last Home Run which was filmed in 1996 and released in 1998.
Carter was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2003, Carter was elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame along with Kirk McCaskill, and his number eight was retired by the Expos.
In his sixth year on the ballot, Gary Carter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Eddie Murray on January 7, 2003. Carter had originally requested if he could have the plaque as half an Expo and half a Met, and though the media took it as one of his jokes, it was a legitimate debate as to with which team he would be associated. Carter himself had expressed a preference to be inducted as an Expo during his final season, however, with the uncertainty of the franchise, and Carter working for the Mets organization since retiring as a player, winning his only World Series title with the Mets, and became a media celebrity during his stint in New York, Carter had changed his mind by the time the moment arrived, and expressed a preference toward the Mets. However, Carter played twelve seasons in Montreal, as opposed to only five in New York. The final decision rested with the Hall of Fame, and Hall president Dale Petroskey declared that Carter's achievements with the Expos had earned his induction, whereas his play with the Mets by itself would not have. At the induction ceremony, Carter spoke a few words of French, thanking fans in Montreal for the great honor and pleasure of playing in that city. Carter was the only former Expo to be inducted into Cooperstown until Andre Dawson joined him on July 25, 2010.
After the Expos moved to Washington, D.C. following the 2004 season, Carter's number along with Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Rusty Staub were moved to the Bell Centre, home of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. The Nationals have since reissued the number eight to Marlon Anderson. While the Mets have not retired number eight, it has remained unused since Carter's election to the Hall of Fame.
Carter was named Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year his first season managing the Gulf Coast Mets in 2005. A year later, he was promoted to the A-level St. Lucie Mets, and guided his team to the 2006 Florida State League championship, again earning Manager of the Year honors. In recent years, Carter has been criticized, most notably by former co-captain Keith Hernandez, for twice openly campaigning for the Mets' managerial position while it was still occupied by incumbents Art Howe in 2004, and in 2008 Willie Randolph.
In 2008, he managed the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League, and again guided his team to the GBL Championship in 2008 and was named Manager of the Year. In November 2008, Carter was named the manager of the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The Ducks won the second half Liberty Division title, however, were defeated by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Liberty Division playoffs. Following the season, Carter was named head baseball coach for the NCAA Division II Palm Beach Atlantic University Sailfish. His daughter Kimmy is the head softball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic, and her husband, Kyle Bloemers, serves as the athletics compliance officer. Kimmy herself was something of a star catcher for the Florida State Seminoles from 1999-2002.
Carter has been married to his wife, Sandy, since 1975. They have three children-- Christy, Kimmy and D.J., and three grandchildren. They reside in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Carter also has been a very active philanthropist. The Gary Carter Foundation, of which Gary Carter is the President, Carter and his staff support 8 Title I schools in Palm Beach County, whose students live immersed in poverty. Typically these schools will have 90% or more students eligible for free or reduced lunches. The Foundation seeks to "better the physical, mental and spiritual well being of children." To accomplish this, they advocate "school literacy by encouraging use of the Reading Counts Program, a program that exists in the Palm Beach County School District."
Since its inception, The Gary Carter Foundation has placed over $622,000 toward charitable purposes, including $366,000 to local elementary schools for their Reading programs.
1962: Wills | 1962: Wagner | 1963: Mays | 1964: Callison | 1965: Marichal | 1966: B. Robinson | 1967: Pérez | 1968: Mays | 1969: McCovey | 1970: Yastrzemski | 1971: F. Robinson | 1972: Morgan | 1973: Bonds | 1974: Garvey | 1975: Madlock, Matlack | 1976: Foster | 1977: Sutton | 1978: Garvey | 1979: Parker | 1980: Griffey, Sr. | 1981: Carter | 1982: Concepción | 1983: Lynn | 1984: Carter | 1985: Hoyt | 1986: Clemens | 1987: Raines | 1988: Steinbach | 1989: Jackson | 1990: Franco | 1991: Ripken Jr. | 1992: Griffey, Jr. | 1993: Puckett | 1994: McGriff | 1995: Conine | 1996: Piazza | 1997: Alomar, Jr. | 1998: Alomar | 1999: Martínez | 2000: Jeter | 2001: Ripken, Jr. | 2003: Anderson | 2004: Soriano | 2005: Tejada | 2006: Young | 2007: Ichiro | 2008: Drew | 2009: Crawford | 2010: McCann
1971: Mays | 1972: Robinson | 1973: Kaline | 1974: Stargell | 1975: Brock | 1976: Rose | 1977: Carew | 1978: Luzinski | 1979: Thornton | 1980: Niekro | 1981: Garvey | 1982: Singleton | 1983: Cooper | 1984: Guidry | 1985: Baylor | 1986: Maddox | 1987: Sutcliffe | 1988: Murphy | 1989: Carter | 1990: Stewart | 1991: Reynolds | 1992: Ripken Jr. | 1993: Larkin | 1994: Winfield | 1995: Smith | 1996: Puckett | 1997: Davis | 1998: Sosa | 1999: Gwynn | 2000: Leiter | 2001: Schilling | 2002: Thome | 2003: Moyer | 2004: Martínez | 2005: Smoltz | 2006: Delgado | 2007: Biggio | 2008: Pujols | 2009: Jeter
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