Baseball great Gary Carter dies after cancer battle
Gary Carter is pictured during his 1986 World Series-winning season with the New York Mets.
February 16th, 2012
05:29 PM ET

Baseball great Gary Carter dies after cancer battle

[Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET] Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who played 19 Major League seasons and won a World Series with the New York Mets in 1986, died Thursday in Florida after battling brain cancer, according to Carter's family and the Hall of Fame.

He was 57.

"He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad," said a message on the family's online journal chronicling Carter's health. "I believe with all my heart that dad had a standing ovation as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus."

Carter's death comes less than a month after the family announced that more tumors were found on Carter's brain. Carter initially was diagnosed with inoperable brain tumors in May.

Carter, an 11-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP, batted .262 with 324 home runs and 1,225 runs in a career that began and ended with the Montreal Expos (1974-1984; 1992), who retired his No. 8 in 1993, 10 years before he would be elected to the Hall of Fame.

He also played for the Mets (1985-1989), the San Francisco Giants (1990) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1991). MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said Carter, driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, "became one of the elite catchers of all time."

"'The Kid' was an 11-time All-Star and a durable, consistent slugger for the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets, and he ranks among the most beloved players in the history of both of those franchises," Selig said in a statement released Thursday. "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."

During his first run with the Expos, from 1974 to 1984, he frequently was among the National League's top 20 batters in home runs, slugging percentage and runs batted in, even leading the league in RBI in 1984.

One of his career highlights came in 1986, when Carter was a key part of one of the wildest rallies in World Series history.

With the Mets one out away from losing the series to the Boston Red Sox, who were ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6, Carter singled and eventually was driven home with the singles of two teammates.

Later that inning with the score tied - in one of baseball's most memorable moments - the Mets' Mookie Wilson hit a grounder that slipped through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing the Mets' Ray Knight to score the winning run. That improbable victory kept the Mets alive for Game 7, which they won two days later.

Earlier, Carter was a hero of Game 4, hitting two home runs and a double in the Mets' 6-2 win.

Wilson and other baseball stars from Carter's playing days recalled his enthusiasm for the game Thursday.

"The one thing I remember about Gary was his smile," Wilson said in a statement released by the Mets. "He loved life and loved to play the game of baseball."

"No one enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter," pitching great Tom Seaver said through the Mets, one of Seaver's former teams. "He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played. He gave you 110% and played the most grueling position on the field and that was something special."

Mets officials said Carter's nickname, "The Kid," captured "how Gary approached life."

"He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto, on and off the field," said Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, President Saul Katz and COO Jeff Wilpon in a statement released after Carter's death. "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."

Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said Carter's "enthusiasm, giving spirit and infectious smile will always be remembered in Cooperstown," the Hall of Fame's home.

"Our thoughts are with ... the entire Carter family on this very sad day," Clark said.

SI.com: Gary Carter, the light of the Mets

SI.com: Photos of Carter

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Filed under: Baseball • California • Canada • Florida • Montreal • New York • Sports
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Cory Dexter

    A lot of athletes could learn from a man like Gary Carter on how to be a true man, hero, role model, and positive influence for many of us. I like to see how a positive life can receive such an uplifting response as I have read here today.

    February 17, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. LeafNation73

    Thank you Gary, for all you did for the city of Montreal and baseball fans everywhere. May you rest in peace.

    February 17, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sean

    To the Carter family and friends, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to you. My wife and I, absolutely loved Gary and by chance were at the 1986 World Series game, where he drove in the winning run. It was by chance, we got a friends seasons box tickets. It was very memorable. My wife was in remission from 4th stage cancer, and even Kirk Douglas was sitting next to us, which was an added thrill. It was the last baseball game we ever went to together and you'll always be in my heart! May you enjoy the company of all the great ball players that proceeded you. Including my dad, who played for the Dodgers between WW2 and Korea!

    February 17, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Gort01

    very sad, condolences to the family

    February 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    what a great world series that was. r.i.p. Great player and from what I hear a great person.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Anthony

    Great player with the Expos but he actually won something with the Mets. Even though he only played five seasons as a Met, he admitted himself he felt more appreciated by the Fans and he enjoyed being a Met more then an Expo. Even when he was inducted into the hall of fame he asked to be inducted as a Met but the league denied him. Montreal pretty much dumped the team with low attendance and they do not even exist as an organization anymore. Washington does not count.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Yea I wish he was inducted as a Met. He pretty much gave them life when they were down to their final out. Montreal fans always want to hog something because they do not even have a team anymore. Their fault they could have saved the team but the attendance just grew to low.GO METS!

      February 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sal

      Montreal actually loved the man. He is being remembered as one of the greatest sports figures in Montreal's history. As we all know, hockey is a religion in Montreal. He is being compared to other hockey greats. That is very telling on how much of an impact he left on the city. As for baseball not working in Montreal, the fans were tired of watching a minor league team. When you have teams like the Yankees having a total team salaries of $175 million, how are the smaller baseball clubs supposed to compete. At the time, the Expos had a total team salaries of around 40 million. Just ask yourself, how many times have the Yankees made the post season in the past 20 years? As a New York baseball fan, it's easy to criticize other cities. The smaller baseball clubs have to hope that their scouts make the big find in the farm system. Even if baseball is just as popular as hockey in Montreal today, the sport still wouldn't have a chance without a salary cap. Anyways, just figured I'd let others know that Anthony is wrong.

      February 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • generalissimo

      Expos had a vast fan base in a small market. It ran into some difficulty. However, the consensus among Canadian baseball people is that the Expos were killed by that infamous player strike, which was called when the Expos were everyone's choice to win the World Series. So baseball itself denied the Expos their best moment, since baseball no longer had a stake in the season - they didn't care if the season was cancelled.

      February 18, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • generalissimo

      ...however, let me add that thousands of older Montrealers were Mets fans from the beginning. The Mets came into our homes via Upstate NY television and I was an avid fan. I'm talking Casey Stengel at the Polo Grounds. So the connection with the Mets is strong and very interesting. RIP Gary, never to be forgotten.

      February 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jacques thibaudeau

    Salut Gary,
    repose en paix.
    Jac

    February 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Coach

    Quite interesting how a bunch of bonehead people can bicker about where Gary played instead of praising how much of a positive influence this great athlete has been wherever he passed. His contagious smile alone could light up a room and make people feel good if only for a few seconds or minutes. Everyone who has met this fine person have been blessed with a special gift only a special human being can give and that is the gift of selfishness and caring for another human being! R.I.P Gary you will be missed!!!

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Curtis

    Its very sad to see someone pass away from a disease that could be cured.

    The cure for cancer can be grown in everyones back yard, but unfortunately the federal government and pharmaceutical companies don't think its a good idea to have a cure for cancer since our economy runs off the profits from treating sick people.

    So, the cure remains illegal against all logic and reason.

    Maybe one day Americans will realize how decieved they have become.

    Peace

    February 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jm47048

      MUST you turn this political? Can we not just send prayers to the Carter family? Why must EVERYTHING on CNN be political? This is a very sad day. A sad day in baseball. A sad day for the Carter family. And a sad day for MY family who had members who were lucky enough to know him. I think your comment is ill placed, and does nothing but cause divisiveness. Your comment is better placed in a forum or a rally for that cause, not in a memorial article about a great athlete and a great man. It offends me that you have done this. And me saying so neither agrees or disagrees with what you believe on the issue. Not EVERYTHING has to be political. Please say a prayer for this family and grieve for a man who died too young instead of posting vitriol.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Semper fi

    Practice is at 4. Game time 7 Good to have you back Carter. Now lets PLAY BALL! God Loves Baseball!

    February 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Fishtale63

    Tip o' the ball cap to you, Gary! R.I.P.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sal

    Gary Carter was a true gentleman. He entertained Montreal baseball fans for a decade. He left his mark on the Montreal sports scene. He will be remembered for the way he played the game and for the way he connected with reporters and fans off the field. The news of his passing has been all people have been talking about in the city of Montreal. I'm noticing that it's the same reaction in the other city's he played for. Gary thanks for entertaining us, you will truly be missed by all.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bunsen Honeydew

    Man I always hated seeing him come up to bat against my Cubs, back in the day.

    Great player and apparently a great person, too. RIP.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. letsgomets2012

    I will miss him deeply.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Anna

    @A-rod. The world DOES NOT revolve around you. Just because you aren't "affected" by his passing doesn't mean he had any less impact on baseball history.

    February 18, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
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