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New York Mets Hold Memorial Pregame Ceremony Honoring Catcher Gary Carter

New York Mets Hold Memorial Pregame Ceremony Honoring Catcher Gary Carter

By Associated Press

NEW YORK — Darryl Strawberry needed all of one game to know what new teammate Gary Carter meant to the New York Mets.

“Right there you just knew inside your gut as a player that sits on that bench, you knew we had just turned the corner,” Strawberry said Thursday before a pregame ceremony at Citi Field honoring Carter. “We were on our way to becoming the team that was going to win the championship because of the Carter presence in the lineup.”

The Mets unveiled a memorial logo in honor of the ever-smiling Hall of Fame catcher who died in February from a brain tumor. Opening day was a fitting occasion to pay tribute to the player many considered the final piece to a ballclub that would win the 1986 World Series.

Carter hit a game-winning home run on opening day 1985, his first year in New York. If there were any doubts about the player who spent his first 11 years on the Montreal Expos, they were dispelled right there.

“The first couple of days with the “Kid” was probably the most nervous I’ve been because a lot of us as ballplayers did not know who Gary was,” teammate Mookie Wilson said. “We played against him and, to be honest with you, we didn’t like him. And that’s mainly because of the attitude he portrayed as being that guy who was always smiling, always happy. You go up there to hit, he’s always talking to you. You’re just trying to get your job done.”

They learned quickly that Carter would get the job done, despite his sunny disposition on a ballclub known for infighting and hard partying ways.

“He really was that happy among a bunch of animals,” Strawberry said.

Known as “Kid” for his big grin and unbridled zeal for the game, the 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Gove winner wears an Expos cap on his plaque in Cooperstown but he will always claim a special place in the hearts of Mets fans.

“A tremendous leader, tremendous work ethic,” said Ryan Fennelly, 37, of Long Island. “He was really a leader for all the younger players on the team, the Strawberrys, the Goodens you know the substance and control in the clubhouse.”

The current Mets and coaching staff all wore blue practice jerseys with Carter’s name and number on the back during batting practice.

“Nice tribute,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Added Mets manager Terry Collins: “It’s an honor to wear his number today.”

Carter’s wife, Sandy Carter, and their three children stood at the wall in left-center and pulled down a blue drape to reveal a black symbol shaped like home plate with “Kid” above an “8’’ — Gary’s nickname and number for nearly his entire 19-year career.

The players wore a similar patch on their right sleeve.

Members of his family were then escorted by former teammate and current Mets third base coach Tim Teufel to a spot in front of the mound where they watched a video tribute on the scoreboard.

Sandy and the three children, D.J., Christy and Kimmy, threw out ceremonial first pitches to Gary’s teammates on that championship club, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Mookie Wilson.

The Expos traded Carter to the Mets after the 1984 season for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. And Carter was a stabilizing force on a brash, young team that captivated New York. They won 98 games in ‘85, finishing second. The next year they won 108 and the World Series title in dramatic fashion.

His two-out single in the bottom of the 10th during Game 6 of the Series kicked off a stunning rally against the Boston Red Sox. Then in Game 7, Carter drove in the tying run in the sixth inning, and the Mets went on to win their most recent championship.

New York Mets To Honor Gary Carter On Opening Day

New York Mets To Honor Gary Carter On Opening Day

Port St. Lucie, FL (Sports Network) – The New York Mets on Monday announced plans to honor late Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter at Opening Day on April 5.

Carter’s family — wife Sandy, daughters Kimmy and Christy, son D.J. and their respective families — will be part of the pregame ceremony as the Mets take on the Atlanta Braves.

The amiable backstop, nicknamed “Kid” passed away after a long fight with brain cancer on February 16.

“Our family is so honored to be part of the Mets’ Opening Day at Citi Field,” said Sandy Carter. “It will be an incredible experience for us to celebrate Gary’s legacy by having our family throw out the first pitch. The Mets and the fans of New York always had a special place in Gary’s heart and that admiration will live on in our hearts for years to come. Thanks to the Wilpon family and the entire Mets organization for making this possible.”

Carter came to Flushing in a multi-player trade from the Montreal Expos prior to the 1985 season. He helped lead the 1986 Mets to a championship, batting .276 with two home runs and nine runs batted in against Boston in the World Series.

“We are thrilled that the Carters will be with us,” said Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon. “On Opening Day, Mets fans will have the chance to pay their respects and remember all of his accomplishments.”

The Culver City, California native was also a noted philanthropist. He founded The Gary Carter Foundation in 2001, which to date has donated $622,000 to charitable causes, mostly focused on elementary school reading programs.

Heavy-Hearted

Heavy-Hearted

My friends, I sit here tonight with a heavy heart.

First it was Sparky Anderson.

Then it was Ron Santo.

And now, Gary Carter.

I never got to see Sparky play the game or manage the Reds, but I have read and learned a lot about the Hall of Fame manager.  My personal memories of him revolve around the Detroit Tigers.

I never saw Ron Santo play baseball, his career was over before I took my first steps.  Santo was, and still is, cherished by the Chicago Cubs and when I lived there, I learned about him and also watched him on TV and listened to him on the radio.

But Gary Carter is different – I watched him play, I watched him excel, and I watched him become a Hall of Famer.  From his last few years in Montreal to his triumph as a New York Mets player to his days of broadcasting for the Marlins – Gary Carter and I had a 25+ year relationship.

As the news of Carter’s passing hits ‘Day Two’, it has now settled in with me.

Like many, I don’t take the news of death very well.  And in the case of Carter’s, some of the more recent news about his health led me believe that his life was nearing the end.  Still, it is tough when a ‘hero’ passes along.

Gary, I hope that you are pain-free.  I hope that your family begins to find peace during this extremely hard time.

Thank you for all of the memories.  Thank you for representing the glorious sport of baseball in the way that you did.

You will be missed!!

Gary Carter – Rest In Peace

Gary Carter – Rest In Peace

By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer

Gary Carter was nicknamed “Kid” for good reason.

His smile, bubbly personality and eagerness to excel on a ballfield made him a joy to watch at the plate and behind it.

Even his Hall of Fame bronze plaque at Cooperstown shows him with a toothy grin—the Kid forever.

The star catcher, whose single for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball, died Thursday. He was 57.

Carter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, two weeks after finishing his second season as coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Carter died at a hospice in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m.,” Carter’s daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know.”

Carter was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. His bottom-of-the-10th single in Game 6 of the 1986 Series helped the Mets mount a charge against the Boston Red Sox and eventually beat them.

With curly, blond locks flaring out from beneath his helmet, and a rigid, upright batting stance, Carter was immediately recognizable.

“His nickname `The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life,” the Mets said in a statement. “He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field. His smile was infectious. … He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

Carter played nearly two decades with the Mets, Montreal, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the Expos to their only playoff berth and was the first player enshrined in Cooperstown wearing an Expos cap.

“Gary was one of the happiest guys in the world every day,” Mets teammate Mookie Wilson once said.

Carter was known as much for his effervescent personality as his talents. He earned his nickname as an eager teen in his first major league camp and the label stuck for the rest of his career, and beyond.

“An exuberant on-field general with a signature smile who was known for clutch hitting and rock-solid defense over 19 seasons,” reads his Hall plaque.

He was especially pumped during the biggest moment of his career. The powerful Mets were down to their last chance in the `86 Series when Carter stepped up with two outs. No one was on base and New York was trailing Boston 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6.

Carter said he had just one thought in mind: “I wasn’t going to make the last out of the World Series.”

True to his word, he delivered a clean single to left field off Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi. Kevin Mitchell followed with a single and when Ray Knight also singled, Carter scampered home from second base.

As Carter crossed the plate, he clapped his hands, pointed at Wilson on deck and clapped again. Moments later, Bill Buckner’s error scored Knight for an amazing 6-5 win. Carter rushed from the dugout to join the celebration at home plate, catcher’s gear already on.

Overshadowed by the rally was the fact that Carter had tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Then in Game 7, Carter drove in the tying run in the sixth inning, and the Mets went on to win their most recent championship.

Carter homered twice over the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Game 4 and totaled nine RBIs in that Series. Since then, only two players have gotten more in a World Series (Mike Napoli for Texas in 2011 and Sandy Alomar Jr. for Cleveland in 1997 each had 10).

Overall, Carter hit .262 with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs with the Expos, Mets, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He set the major league record for putouts by a catcher, a testament to his durability despite nine knee operations.

“Driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, Gary Carter became one of the elite catchers of all-time,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.“Like all baseball fans, I will always remember his leadership for the `86 Mets and his pivotal role in one of the greatest World Series ever played.”

Carter twice was the MVP of the All-Star game. He won the award in 1981 by homering twice in baseball’s first game after a players’ strike that lasted two months. He remains the lone player to have a two-homer performance in an All-Star game and a World Series game.

He set the NL record for games caught, but spent his first full season in the majors primarily as Montreal’s right fielder. His first All-Star appearance came that year, in 1975, as a defensive replacement in left field for Pete Rose.

Carter was recognized, too, for his contributions off the field when he was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award.

He hit his first major league homer in September 1974 off future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton as a 20-year-old rookie—Carter homered 11 times against the ace lefty, his top victim.

Carter spent his first 11 years with the Expos and was part of a solid core that put them into the 1981 playoffs. They beat the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies in a new first round created after the strike split the season into two halves, but lost to the Dodgers in the NL championship series.

A perennial fan favorite, Carter returned to Montreal in 1992 for one final season. His last swing was a memorable one—he hit an RBI double in the seventh inning at Olympic Stadium, left for a pinch-runner to a huge ovation from the home crowd and walked away after that 1-0 win over the Cubs.

Carter was elected to the Hall in 2003 on his sixth try. He had joked that he wanted his Cooperstown cap to be a half-and-halfer, split between the Expos and Mets. The Hall makes the ultimate call on the logo.

Carter pleased Canadian fans by delivering part of his induction speech in French. Born and raised in California, he took a Berlitz course to help him learn the language after the Expos drafted him.

The Expos traded him to the Mets after the 1984 season for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. Carter turned out to be one of the last missing pieces on a New York team that already had the likes of Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Keith Hernandez.

He made an immediate impression—it just took a little extra to get it right in his Mets debut in 1985. In the season opener at Shea Stadium, Carter took strike three, had a passed ball that gave St. Louis a run and watched Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar steal a base against him.

But in the bottom of the 10th inning, Carter hit a home run that won the game and drew a standing ovation plus chants of “Gary! Gary! Gary!”

“What a way to start,” Carter said with a grin afterward. “Hit by a pitch, strike out looking, a stolen base, a passed ball and then the home run.”

“There’s not enough words to describe what it feels like,” he said. “I’ll certainly remember this the rest of my life.”

It wasn’t the only time he bounced back from a rugged start. Slumping badly in the 1986 NL championship series, Carter hit a winning single in the bottom of the 12th to beat Houston in Game 5, putting the Mets within one win of the World Series.

A two-sport athlete as a boy, Carter won the 7-year-old national division of the NFL’s first Punt, Pass & Kick skills competition in 1961. He was a pitcher and shortstop in Little League and switched to catching in high school after a scout suggested it was the fastest path to the big leagues, turning down a chance to play football at UCLA.

Carter stayed in baseball after his playing days ended. He became a broadcaster for the Florida Marlins, coached and managed for the Mets in the minors, managed two independent minor league teams and coached in college.

The only hint of negative publicity Carter drew came a few years ago when he appeared to be campaigning for the Mets’ managing job though it was already filled.

Carter, however, always had a winning touch. At the ballpark or away, he greeted fans with a hearty handshake—many marveling at how his big right hand had swallowed up theirs.

After his diagnosis, the Mets began playing a highlight reel of Carter’s accomplishments on the video board during games at Citi Field and posted this message: “Our thoughts are with you Gary. From your millions of fans and the New York Mets.”

At the Hall ceremonies in July, new inductee Bert Blyleven mentioned Carter.“Gary, keep battling the way that you always have,” he said to the crowd.

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said Carter continued to inspire him in later years. In a 2006 column for The Associated Press, the former Phillies star recalled the pure elation that enveloped Carter when he was voted into Cooperstown.

“No player ever appreciated that call to the extent he did. The joy it brought him, his family, and friends, especially me, was so real and pleasantly genuine, I ate it up and still do,” Schmidt wrote.

“He does not take it for granted. He will wear his emotion, from this election, on his sleeve the rest of his life,” he wrote. “His induction actually made me appreciate mine all the more.”

Thank You To Everyone Who Sent In A ‘Best Wishes’ Card For Gary Carter!!!

Thank You To Everyone Who Sent In A ‘Best Wishes’ Card For Gary Carter!!!

I just wanted to personally thank each and everyone who sent a card into ’30-YOC’ for ‘The Gary Carter Project’.

This morning on the way to work, I will be making a quick detour to my local Post Office.  Once there, I will be depositing a rather large, and heavy, bubble mailer full of ‘Well Wishes’ for the Hall of Famer.

I really appreciate the help you guys gave me with this, and I think that Gary Carter will too!

Thanks again!!

LAST CALL: If You Want To Send Gary Carter A ‘Best Wishes’ Card, Now Is The Time To Act!!!

LAST CALL:  If You Want To Send Gary Carter A ‘Best Wishes’ Card, Now Is The Time To Act!!!

OK everyone, I have set a deadline for when I am going to pack up the cards I have received to be routed to Mr. Carter.

You have until July 7th to get me your cards.   I will pack them up that evening and put them in the mail on Friday morning, the 8th.

So, that leaves you with roughly ten more days to get this going.  And I am really hoping that a few more cards making it into the postal stream so I can increase the size of the package I am sending.

If you want more details or need my address so you can mail your card to me, email me at bapple2286@hotmail.com for all of the info.

Thanks again to all of those that have participated in this.  And for those of you that want to, get it in gear and make it happen!!!

After Two Weeks, ‘The Gary Carter Project’ Needs Your Help More Than Ever!!!

After Two Weeks, ‘The Gary Carter Project’ Needs Your Help More Than Ever!!!

Well, after two weeks, and dozens of emails, I have received just a few ‘Best Wishes’ cards to send to Gary Carter.

Please, if you expressed interest in sending a card in conjunction with the readers of ’30-YOC’ send it to me ASAP.  My plan is to send these on or around July 1 – but I can stretch that deadline if more people want to lend a hand card.

If you missed my original post about this, you can re-read the whole thing by clicking here.

For the five of you that have lended a hand in this effort so far, THANK YOU!!!

For the rest of you, I appreciate you stopping everything you’re doing to go fill out a card for Mr. Carter.  Your 45 seconds could not have been spent any better.  🙂

Thanks for reading.

Has Gary Carter Ever Made You Smile? Well, Now You Can Return The Favor!!!

Has Gary Carter Ever Made You Smile?  Well, Now You Can Return The Favor!!!

I like Gary Carter; I always have.  And since I am a writer that loves to write about the players that I cheered for as a kid, I write often about Mr. Carter.

Last week it was announced that Carter is suffering from inoperable brain tumors.  I cannot imagine how he and his family took the news, but their spirits remained high when discussing the issue with the media.

This news hit me like a ton of bricks – it hurt.

I have a lot of memories of watching Gary Carter play baseball; first with the Expos and then with the Mets.  Hell, I put together a collection of all of his baseball cards from those two teams as a way to pay homage to his amazing and lengthy career.

Gary Carter provided a lot of smiles for me during my youth, and even into adulthood.  Now it is time to pay him back.

Here is what I am proposing.  Let’s collect as many ‘Get Well Soon’ cards as we can for Mr. Carter and send them to him all at one time.  I’m sure he gets cards from loyal fans all of the time – celebrating birthdays or anniversaries or other events.

But now, more than ever, Gary needs to know and feel that he is as supported as ever by his fans!!!

I would be happy to take the lead on this and have all cards sent to me.  I will accumulate them for a specific time period, lets say 30 days, and then send them all in 1 big (hopefully) bunch to Carter’s Foundation in West Palm Beach.

Here is what I am thinking – we need to set up a code to put on the outside of each envelope for this cause.  How about ‘GC8‘.  Addressing the envelope to me will get the cards to me and then using the code of ‘GC8‘ on the outside of the envelope will ensure that I don’t open your cards but that I will set them aside with the others to send ‘in bulk’ to Gary in July.

Sound good?  I hope so.

Also, if you’re a blogger, please spread the word.

If you are on Twitter, please ‘tweet’ about this.

If you’re on Facebook, please help me promote this.

If you’re a baseball fan, please tell your friends and family about this.

We can all skip buying a pack of cards or a soda or a coffee for one day to grab a card and make someone smile that has made us smile over and over again for several years.

I don’t want to publish my mailing address on the site, but you can email me and I will be happy to offer it up to you.  Email me at bapple2286@hotmail.com

This is our chance to bring a smile to Gary Carter’s face.  To confirm to him that his fans are thinking of him and praying for him.  Please help!

Thank you.  God Bless You.

Gary Carter and me - Summer, 2010

Gary Carter’s Brain Tumors Most Likely Inoperable

Hall of Famer Gary Carter’s brain tumors are most likely inoperable, according to a post by his daughter on the family’s website, the Montreal Gazette reported Monday.

“Dad’s tumour is not operable, as it is like a snake of tumours that are connected across the back of the brain,” Kimmy Bloemers wrote on Saturday. “The biggest tumour is on the left side of the brain.”

Earlier this month, doctors found four small tumors on Carter’s brain, and announced that he would undergo further tests at Duke Medical Center in Durham, N.C. On Friday, doctors performed biopsies on a single tumor and announced that is appeared to be malignant.

Bloemers said that doctors are “99 percent” certain that her father is suffering from Grade 4 glioblastoma, which affects the brain and central nervous system, and is characterized by a fast-growing malignant brain tumor.

“We will find the absolute/definite prognosis on Tuesday, so we are hanging tight for possibly other news,” Bloemers wrote.

Carter, 57, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. He compiled a .262 career average with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs over 19 seasons in the Majors with the Expos, Mets, Giants and Dodgers.

Nicknamed “Kid,” Carter was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner. He helped lead the Mets past the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series.

“This will not be an easy road at all, nor is this a simple battle but WE WILL FIGHT,” Bloemers wrote.

Carter’s family has been by his side at The Preston Robert Tisch Brian Tumor Center at Duke while he undergoes treatment.

UPDATE – Gary Carter’s Tumors Likely Malignant

UPDATE – Gary Carter’s Tumors Likely Malignant

Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter has a brain tumor that is likely cancerous.

Doctors performed biopsies on a tumor in Carter’s brain on Friday morning and Duke Medicine says in a release that preliminary results show it ”appears to be malignant.”

”Once the pathology report is available, which will take several days, we will discuss treatment options with Mr. Carter and his family,” said Doctors Allan H. Friedman and Henry S. Friedman, the co-deputy directors of The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.

”In the meantime, Mr. Carter is in excellent spirits and good physical condition. He is resting comfortably, surrounded by his family. We hope that his friends and fans will continue to pray for Mr. Carter and his family during this time.”

The 57-year-old Carter, who just completed his second season as Palm Beach Atlantic University’s baseball coach, announced last Saturday that an MRI had revealed four small tumors on his brain. The Duke Medicine release says the biopsies were performed on a single tumor.

Carter hit .262 with 324 homers and 1,225 RBIs in 19 seasons in the majors. The 11-time All-Star played his last game with the Montreal Expos in 1992 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

The effervescent Carter, nicknamed ”Kid,” is perhaps best known for helping the Mets win the 1986 World Series. He had 24 homers and 105 RBIs that year, then drove in 11 runs in the postseason.

”We have to wait and see what kind of treatment there is. We are praying for him and his family,” said Mets first base coach Mookie Wilson, a former teammate of Carter’s. ”It’s tough for any of us. Gary was one of the happiest guys in the world every day. That’s why they called him the Kid.”

Wilson said he has texted Carter since hearing about the tumors last weekend but hasn’t spoken with him.

”It’s shocking. We’re pretty much the same age. It could happen to any of us,” Wilson said. ”We know he’s a competitor and I think that gives him an edge.”