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. NYYFan1

    Wow !! This is really sad news and I wish to extend my utmost heartfelt condolences to the entire family of Gary Carter. Although I grew up as a lifelong, diehard NY Yankees Fan, I remember Gary Carter well, especially during that spectacular 1986 NLCS (vs. Houston) & World Series (vs. Boston).

    As a matter of fact, after the tragic loss of our beloved team captain, Thurman Munson, on 08/02/1979, I had always hoped George M. Steinbrenner III (RIP) would land a contract and sign Gary Carter. It would have been great to see Gary Carter in Yankees pinstripes, but unfortunately, this never happened.

    May the Hall of Famer, Gary Carter, forever rest in eternal, everlasting and heavenly peace.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Well said. Thanks!

      February 17, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. CJ

    I am a serious Phillies fan and when Gary Carter played I really hated him. That tells you how good he was.
    More importantly from everything I have read he was a good human being and a family man. I lost my brother at the young age of 45 to Cancer and it is a painful experience and I wish his family many condolences.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. jdvaus

    Growing up in the 70s on a border city near Canada, before cable, the Montreal Expos were the only team I watched
    regularly. Gary, along with Ken Singleton were my early baseball heroes. Later in life, I learned of his philanthropic
    work. RIP to a truly decent man!

    February 17, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joseph P

    RIP Big G.... Thank you for the memories And thank you for always showing your good sportsmanship.. there was no way anyone could hate you bIG guy Until we meet again Brosky.. RIP Big guy... Love you man!

    February 17, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Brian Paone

    God needed a catcher. Gary got the call. They're both much better off now.

    RIP Gary.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Roy

    Many believe when you die heaven is your destination, on the contrary, if you believe in heaven then you believe in the Bible, for the Bible speaks about heaven in numerous passages but has very specific application and meaning. Gary Carter like the many billions who have lived on this earth who have died, face a wonderful and beautiful promise of life forever here on earth. You beleive the Bible right! You beleive there is a heaven right! Read the promise at John 3:16, John 5:28,29 their is more than heaven their is a wonderful hope here on earth as well. Gary will face that wonderful hope.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    Class Act! RIP

    February 17, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. GC

    I had the opportunity to meet Gary Carter at a Meet the Mets function back in 1986 after the team moved their spring training operations to Port St. Lucie. While many of the players acted as though they had better places to be, both Gary and his wife acted as though that was the ONLY place they wanted to be. I haven't met many superstars in person, but it's hard to imagine anyone being more approachable and gracious than Gary was that evening. The sporting world could certainly use more Gary Carters...

    February 17, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. inisheer

    Godspeed to the G man from all New Yorkers

    February 17, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. BrianKimball

    His kind comments on the Chewstroke homepage made us smile daily....Thank you Gary....thank you, also, for 86....RIP

    February 17, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. ERS

    Thank You!! RIP, you are one of the greats!!

    February 17, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jackblob

    Like many greats, including the immortal Jackie Robinson, Gary Carter's career began in Montreal. He often took the time to chat with the fans and I was fortunate to partake in a couple of those chats.

    If you Americans don't mind, I'll remember Gary the way he wanted to be remembered, as a member of the Montreal Expos.

    February 17, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. ronald mcloughlin

    Another athlete has died prematurely & although he is associated with baseball, he was in fact as Wikipedia reveals:"where he played American football as a quarterback and baseball as an infielder. After receiving more than 100 scholarships for athletics,[2] Carter signed a letter of intent to play football at University of California, Los Angeles, but instead signed with the Montreal Expos after they drafted him in the 1973 Major League Baseball Draft.[2][3]" Everything seems to point toward early brain damage due to football which he obviously played for four years in high school. It may seem strange but another famous baseball player Lou Gehrig also played football first. "However, Gehrig was ruled eligible to play on the Lions' football team and was a standout fullback." This gets a little more complicated because now medical scientists are connecting ALS and football head injuries. Again. Wikipedia: "Some researchers have speculated that repeated concussions in veterans and athletes may cause a chronic traumatic encephalopathy that mimics ALS. This might explain the higher rate of ALS diagnoses in those populations.[20]" This is only speculation but the evidence is piling up that head trauma is a serious problem in football, our most profitable sport. Only (grand)parents can guard against the unnecessary early death of their children or the early death in adulthood. Gary
    Carter died too early. Are they investigating his brain?

    February 17, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Grateful Canadian

      It was cancer. You did all that research, but didn't know that?

      February 17, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Please, stop this ridiculous attempt to link his death to concussions or sport related injury. He died from cancer, not a neurological disorder that possibly could be linked to athletic injuries. My spouse had a similar cancer and the only link
      we had was the fact we live in cancer alley. In the midst of more oil refineries then anywhere else in the world. No family predisposition, just unluckily first getting cancer at 21! We saw at MD Anderson many babies born with cancer and many men Gary Carter's age die from exactly what killed him. We loved him as an athlete and a real deeply caring human being.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Len

    Growing up in Montreal, Gary Carter was a hero. He provided so many thrills game after game. The passing of Gary Carter feels like losing the Expos all over again! May he rest in peace. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends. Gary is gone but will NEVER be forgotten....

    February 17, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. rustyhunter

    Gary Carter was an EXPO first and foremost. Why must all American media post pictures of Carter in a Mets uniform???? Gary Carter was a Montreal Expo through and through, please represent him as such!

    February 17, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken Monette

      Rusty, the "Kid" won a World Series with the Mets and was their leader. Don't sweat the Mets photos, by the way he was also a great Expo of course and went into the Hall of Fame as an Expo. There are also photos of him in the Montreal Expos uni on Yahoo sports.......

      February 17, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken Monette

      Hey Rusty, FYI if you click on "rare photos of Gary Carter" in CNN/SI Sport section there are 36 photos of Carter, most of them in his Expos uniform including a great one of him with the Hawk(Andre Dawson) and Tim Raines all in the Expos home uniform! He was a great player, Hall of Famer and a Great Man!

      February 17, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Ashera

      Yes, sirree! Mr. Carter was a valuable player for Montreal, Expos! My family met him and he was a sincere person, and very nice. But, as usual, the American Press do not recognize people, from Canada or have work (one way or another outside of it)
      But, people who are not American realizes that, and really find them very little minded folks!

      February 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Probably because

      1. He's won a world series with the Mets, and
      2. NOBODY cared about the Expos - NOT EVEN THEIR OWN CITY!!! If they did they'd still be in Montreal.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      And hey, good job painting EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN with the EXACT SAME brush, while at the same time complaining about close mindedness and ignorance. HYPOCRITE, MUCH?

      February 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Because he actually won something as a met. Even though he only played 5 seasons as a met he said himself he felt more appreciated as a Met then Expo. Basicley because he never won a world series with the expos.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • rustyhunter

      @Will I never painted Every Single American just the American Media.
      Just because he won with a team means nothing about his legacy and his heart.
      Montreal LOVES the Expos and always has. Jeffery Loria and Bud Selig TOOK the Expos away.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
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