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. Joe R.

    My condolences to his family. As a player against my favorite team he definitely made me nervous when he was up to bat. His consistency and power was to be feared and respected by his opponents, and he was admired for his professionalism.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brian D.

    You couldn't help but like and respect Gary Carter both on and off the field. His love for the game, his teammates and his family was admired by people of all ages. He was truly a great inspiration for all of us. God Bless you, Gary Carter. Thanks for the memories.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeffbaseball

    I had the opportunity of meeting Gary in 2001 during a signing. Great guy and ambassador to the game. He had a smile then and nice words. Rest in peace.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pimpson

    They go in 3's. Whitney, this guy... who's next.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Perturbed

      "This guy"? Go back to TMZ and gfy.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andre Orbe

    GARY "THE KID" CARTER, YOU'LL ALWAYS BE THE BEST! I'll never forget meeting You, Davey Johnson & Ho Jo when I was in college working at a restaurant back in New Rochelle, NY. The 3 of you were great, polite and respectful. When I said to Gary that you were my favorite Met & hero while growing up in Corona, NY; you simply smiled, said thank you and shook my hand! THAT MADE MY DAY! You'll be forever missed. Thanks for the memories KID! :-(

    February 17, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. Andre Orbe

    @ RIZZO: Gary Carter was a GREAT player and person BUT I think he retired BEFORE the 2000 subway Series versus the Yankees! You might need to get your facts straight first! I think you have him confused with Mike Piazza! Another GREAT Mets catcher!

    February 17, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    One of the best catchers ever to play the game. He'll be missed.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. VolSocal

    Way to be, Mr. Carter.

    Though I was not a Met fan since Seaver retired (unless they were playing the Yankees), you were exciting to watch "play ball" on TV. Thanks and may you R.I.P.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Candice P.

    Thought Gary Carter was that black kid on Different Strokes who died a couple of years ago?

    February 17, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    Gary Carter was one of my favorite players growing up. I still have his autograph on my tee-ball hat from back in the early 80's. Sad to hear about his passing.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. sdfs

    Who will be #3?

    February 17, 2012 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. A-Rod

    Why should he get a standing ovation? Because he had Brain Cancer or because he was a baseball player? Both are dumb reasons.

    To think that everyone in heaven was like, "This place is a bummer. Oh wait, is that Gary Carter from the Mets; and just think, I was going to ask to go to hell before I saw HIM coming in."

    Not that I believe in Heaven. Gary Carter feels nothing and sees nothing now that he is dead. For their to be life in which everything exists, there must be death in which nothing exists.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • JP

      Give it a rest, nobody cares what you believe. Gary Carter was a great player and a great guy, R.I.P. Gary.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
    • A-Rod

      Sorry, I didn't know Gary personally like you obviously do. Not that I care, at all. Someone old has died, is that really a suprise? The future is more important than any one person.

      Sure, he may have led a great life, for all I know. But his great life and fortune and happiness leaves me completely unaffected. So I say, what did Gary do for you lately?

      February 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • A-Rod

      If anything, we shold all gather round and pray and thank god for Gary's life, and the inoperable brain tumors that he saw fit to bestow upon an apparently beloved person.

      February 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The_Mick

    When I was 55 and considering retirement, most friends and relatives -who have little in stimulating hobbies- told me I was too young except for one who said, "You can retire comfortably: who knows how long you've got? Do it! Then a close friend since childhood, 57 like Gary Carter, died. I retired the next year, 2006, and am glad I did: it's giving me a chance to pursue things in music, travel, etc. like rich kids who don't have to worry about bringing in a pay check.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Michael Wolinski

    Rest in peace, Gary. You gave me some great memories and millions of others who you never met. I am grateful that we were able to celebrate your life. Condolences to your family. Love and Peace.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. Adam

    I wish all baseball players had Gary's class and integrity. Rest well Gary.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
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