Gary Carter

Position: Catcher
Teams: Montreal Expos, 1974-1984, 1992; New York Mets, 1985-1989; San Francisco Giants, 1990; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1991

"The Kid," they called him in New York, and Gary Carter was a perfect fit for the Big Apple. Already a seven-time All-Star when he arrived in 1985, Carter helped propel the Mets to a world championship while basking in New York's limelight, making up for a decade of relative obscurity in Montreal.

Carter led the Mets to 108 victories and the world title in 1986.
With his clutch hitting and deft signal
calling, Carter led the Mets to 108
victories and the world title in 1986.

When Carter (born 1954) reached the majors in 1974, it was with the moribund Expos. Splitting time between catching and the outfield, Carter showed his mettle as a hitter as Rookie of the Year in 1975 (.270, 17 homers, 72 walks), then elevated his game in 1977. In his first year as a full-time receiver, Carter clubbed 31 homers and batted .284 as the Expos began to improve. By the next season, Carter had supplanted Johnny Bench as the NL's top catcher.

While some other players resented Carter's popularity, as well as his healthy ego, he clearly was a star. No other catcher of his time could do everything Carter did while remaining free of injury. He hit for average and power, drew his share of walks, showed good agility and smarts behind the plate, possessed a strong throwing arm, and hustled (for the camera's sake, some said).

He was durable and handsome, and fans enjoyed his all-out style. In addition, Carter shone on the big stage; he was twice voted All-Star Game MVP.

But despite his stellar play, the Expos never reached the World Series. The closest they came was a heartbreaking 1981 NLCS loss to the Dodgers, despite Carter's .429 postseason batting average.

Following the 1984 season, the Expos jettisoned several stars in an attempt to rebuild. The Mets, lacking a strong catcher, happily traded four players for Carter. New York finished second in 1985 to St. Louis, with Carter belting 32 homers.

By 1986, Carter was an old 32. He had played nearly every day behind the plate for ten years and was no longer a dominating hitter. But Carter's all-around play and infectious energy bolstered the club. After an easy first-place finish in '86, the Mets won a spectacular NLCS versus Houston and a seven-game World Series thriller against Boston. Carter was in the thick of most of the postseason thrills.

His last regular season was 1988, but Carter hung on as a backup and leader through 1992, when he hung it up after a final season in Montreal. His 2,056 games behind the plate and 298 homers as a catcher rank among the all-time leaders. Clearly one of the best catchers in the history of baseball, Carter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Here are Gary Carter's major league totals:


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