Gary Carter: Hall of Fame Catcher (The Mets Years Part One: 1984-1986)

Gary Carter- Mets Career: On December 10th, 1984 the Mets landed the man they needed to put them over the top. Gary Carter was one of the last pieces to their Championship puzzle. The Mets got Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos in exchange for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham & Floyd Youmans.

The Kid as he was known, arrived with a lot of hype & fanfare going into the 1985 season. At the time he was the league's second highest paid player for the next two seasons.

On the field, the future Hall of Famer had been one of the game's best catchers since the mid-seventies. His aggressive style of play & intense attitude on the field earned him the respect. Off the field with his long curly hair, big smile & availability to always do an interview made him a perfect fit in New York. Carter quickly got a lot of advertisement offers & could be seen smiling all over billboards as well as TV commercials in the Big Apple.

Carter was always available to sign autographs, sometimes even holding up the team bus because he didn't want to say no to his fans.
Gary Carter loved the game & all the fame that surrounded it being successful in New York.

The 1986 Mets were notorious for bad behavior. On a team filled with party animals & players with a love for the wild side of life, Carter was an outcast. He didn't drink alcohol, smoke or do any drugs He was a solid family man, who didn't stay up late, go out to the bars or fool around with other women. 

His relationship with his wife & family meant everything to him, even more than the game itself. Carter was also a moral, religious man & took a lot of criticism from his wild teammates. Although he knew the others made fun of him, he always remained himself.

Opening Day Walk Off HR: On Opening Day 1985, Carter received a huge ovation as he was behind the plate & batting cleanup in the home opener against the rival Cardinals. In his first at bat he was hit by a pitch from Joaquin Andujar. After striking out in his next at bat, he doubled off Ken Dayley in the 6th inning. The game went to extra innings, then in the bottom of the 10th inning he hit a walk-off HR off former Met Neil Allen. The HR gave the Mets a 6-5 win as Carter debuted in heroic fashion, thrilling the Shea Stadium fans as they cheered a great start to a new season. 

On April 12th, he homered off the Reds Mario Soto scoring the only run of a 1-0 win over the Reds. On April 14th, he homered off the Reds Jay Tibbs, adding a sac fly as well in the Mets 4-0 Dwight Gooden shut out. In the first week Carter had three HRs with four RBIs becoming an immediate fan favorite & instant New York celebrity. 

In the month of May he was productive, driving in 18 runs as the Mets new cleanup hitter, sitting in the middle of a very powerful line up. 

Grand Slam HR: On May 7th, he hit his first Mets grand slam HR. It came in the bottom of the 8th inning of a tie game with the Atlanta Braves. Carter's blast off Bruce Sutter led the Mets to an eventual 5-3 win.

On May 10th, Dwight Gooden three hit the Phillies in a shut out at Shea. Carter led the offense with a three run bases clearing double off Dave Rucker in the 5-0 Mets win.

On May 17th, his base hit in the 9th inning off the SF Giants- Scott Garrelts. It was another walk off game winner for the Kid.

On May 29th at San Francisco, Carter came to bat in the top of the 8th with two on & the Mets down 3-0. He singled off Mark Davis bringing in two runs & then scored what was the winning run, on George Foster's base hit in the 4-3 victory.

The next day he drove in a 6th inning run, which turned out to be another game winner, helping Doc Gooden to a 2-1 win over Jim Gott.

Four Hit Game: On June 12th, Kid collected four hits, including a double & a HR off Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in a 7-3 Mets win. From June 10th to June 15th, he collected 12 hits in 21 at bats in a six game hitting streak.
19th Inning Game in Atlanta: On July 4th, Carter was behind the plate for every inning of the Mets 19 inning marathon game at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium, against the Braves. Carter led the team with five hits, a walk, two RBIs & a run scored in the epic game.

That night, Kid caught seven different Mets pitchers with Tom Gorman ending up with the victory six hours & ten minutes after the game began.

1985 All Star: In July Gary made the All-Star team, representing the Mets for the first time. He did not play in the game due to an injury which had him miss a week of play. Carter would make four All Star teams in his five seasons playing in New York as a Met.

Upon his return, he took a few games to get going. 

Multi RBI Games: But he closed out July with back-to-back games multi-RBI-games against the Houston Astros at Shea, driving in three runs each time. On July 25th, he hit a three-run HR off Mets nemesis in next year's NLCS, Mike Scott. In the second game his three RBIs contributed in a 16-4 blow out of Houston.

On August 8th, he Kid blasted a three-run shot in Montreal in front of the fans that still loved him & against the team that would eventually retire his uniform number. 

On August 11th he hit a pair of HRs against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, driving in four of the Mets six runs in their 6-2 win.

Player of the Week & Player of the Month Awards: At the end of August into early September, Carter had a tremendous road trip on the West Coast. In nine games in California, he hit nine HRs with 15 RBIs. He hit safely in every game, gathering up 18 hits, to raise his average 15 points during that stretch. 

His incredible hitting earned him both the Player of the Week & Player of the month Awards. 

Multi HR Game: On September 3rd, Carter had his biggest game of the year as he blasted three HRs while driving in six runs in the Mets 8-3 win at San Diego. It was just the second time in his career he had hit three HRs in a game.

In the 1st inning he hit a two-run shot off Dave Dravecky bringing in Keith Hernandez for a 2-0
lead. In his next at bat in the top of the 4th, he led off with another HR off Dravecky then Darryl Strawberry followed to go back-to-back.

In the 5th, Carter came to bat with Tom Paciorek & Keith Hernandez on & hit a three-run shot off Luis DeLon to off his big game putting the Mets up 7-0.

Multi HR Game: The next night, Carter hit two more HRs, the first a two-run shot coming off Roy Lee Jackson & later his 25th of the season, a 7th inning solo shot off Ed Wojna in a 9-2 Mets win. In the three games at Jack Murphy Stadium Carter had 9 hits with 5 HRs with 9 HRs.

On September 8th, Carter homered off the Dodgers Orel Hershiser in an exciting extra inning win in Los Angeles. On September 13th, a return to Montreal, Carter hit a two-run shot off the Expos Bill Laskey bringing in three runs in a 7-2 win in the night cap of a double header.

Four RBI Game: On September 16th, Carter drove in four runs, highlighted by a 3rd inning three run shot off the Phillies Kevin Gross in a 9-0 Dwight Gooden shut out for his 21st victory of the year.

30th HR: On September 23rd, Carter hit his 30th HR of the season, a two-run shot off Freddie Toliver in a 4-1 win at Philadelphia. It marked the second time in his career that he surpassed the 30 HR mark, the first time being 1977. In this game the Phillies, Mike Schmidt also hit his 30th HR of the season.

Grand Slam HR: On September 25th, in a loss at Wrigley Field, Carter hit his ninth career grand slam, coming off the Cubs Reggie Patterson. It was the fifth time that season he had at least four RBIs in a game.

During the month he was the most productive Mets batter with 40 hits, bashing 13 HRs while driving in 33 runs with eleven multi-hit games & eight multi-RBI games. 

The Mets got within a game of the St. Louis Cardinals with five games left to play. Carter had three hits with one RBI in the big three game set at Busch Stadium. where New York lost two of three. They finished the season three back as they lost two of three in Carters old stomping grounds of Montreal.

Overall, on the season he had a career high, team leading 32 HRs (5th in the NL). He drove in 100
runs (6th most in the NL) with 18 game winning RBIs & 17 doubles.

He Carter (.488) hit by pitches (6) intentional walks (16) total bases (271) & double plays (18). 

Kid caught 143 games behind the plate (2nd in the league) posting a .992 fielding % (also 2nd in the league) throwing out 51 base runners trying to steal (35%) & leading the league in put outs (956).

Carter came in 6th in the MVP voting & was one of three Mets (along with Gooden & Hernandez) to finish in the league's top ten in the MVP voting.

1986 Championship Season: On Opening Day Carter went hitless then sat out the second game of the season. 

Five RBI Game: On April 11th, in a 9-7 win over the Pirates, Carter had a five RBI, three hit game. In the bottom of the 1st, he hit his first HR of the year, a two-run shot off Kevin Gross.

In the 3rd, he added a two-run single, then an RBI single in the 4th as well in the 9-7 win.

From there Carter had a ten-game hit streak with five multi-hit games getting his average up to .356.

Walk Off Hit:
On April 21st, in the 3rd inning, Carter tied up a game with the Pirates, hitting a two run HR off Larry McWilliams. 

In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets were down 5-4 when Tim Teufel's double tied the game. After Keith Hernandez walked, Carter hit a walk off single off Ji Winn scoring Teufel in the 6-5 win. 

In his first month of the Championship season, he drove in 19 runs, and was batting .312. 

On May 14th & 15th, he hit HRs in back-to-back games against the Astros in Houston. Following that series, the Mets went on a West Coast run, where Carter drove in five more runs in the seven games he played in. 

As the Mets returned home, he drove in two
runs with a single & sac fly off the Dodgers Bob Welch in an 8-1 win over L.A. The next night Carter hit his 8th HR of the season in a 4-2 Mets win. 

From June10th thru June 30th, Carter hit 5 HRs driving in 20 runs as e collected 18 hits batting .316. 

Multi HR Game: On June 10th, Carter hit a 6th inning two run HR off Philadelphia's Charles Hudson to put the Mets up 3-2. In the 8th, he tied up the game with a HR off Steve Bedrosian. The game went to extra innings with the Mets winning it on Tim Teufel's walk off grand slam HR.

The next night, he drove in two more runs in a 5-3 Mets win. On June 18th, he hit a HR in a loss to his old Expos teammates. 

Multi RBI Game: In his next game on June 20th, Carter drove in four runs, as he hit a three run HR off the Cubs Jay Baller & added a sac fly in a 10-3 Mets blow out.

He closed out June with back-to-back games where he had two hits with two RBIs, both Mets wins.

On July 10th, the Mets hosted the Braves in the opener of a three-game set. Carter began the series with a solo HR in the 5-1 Mets win.

Seven RBI Multi HR Game: On July 11th, he had his biggest RBI game of his Mets career, almost single handedly clobbering the Braves in an 11-0 win. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Kid hit a three run HR, off David Palmer to put the Mets on the board first 3-0. 

In the bottom of the 2nd, Sid Fernandez & Wally Backman singled, then Keith Hernandez walked. Carter then blasted a grand slam off Pamer, putting the Mets ahead 7-0, with all the runs driven in by Carter. It was his tenth career grand slam, his first of the season & third as a Mets player. El Sid & the Mets went on to a 10-0 shutout.

1986 All Star Game:
 At the All Star break he was batting .255 with 16 HRs & 65 RBI's. Gary Carter & Dwight Gooden were the NL's starting battery for the All-Star Game held at the Houston Astrodome. Keith Hernandez & Darryl Strawberry also got the starts representing the Mets. Carter was 0-3 in the NL's 3-2 loss.

From July 17th- 21st, he drove in five more runs, with RBIs in three of four more games in the Astrodome against Houston. 

On July 27th, Carter hit a three run HR off the Braves Rick Mahler in Atlanta. It was the first of three consecutive Met HRs, as Darryl Strawberry & Kevin Mitchell joined in the slugging. 

In August, Carter had five multi-RBI games. On August 6th, in a suspended game at Wrigley Field, Carter drove in three runs in the 7-6 Mets win. The next day, he hit a three run HR off Scott Sanderson, for another three RBI game in a 12-3 Mets win. Carter would have back-to-back multi-RBI games the next week as well.

An injury kept him sidelined for the final two weeks of August.

In September he began the month with five straight games where he drove in at least one run. 

On September 6, the Mets entered the 8th inning down 3-2 to the San Diego Padres. Keith Hernandez tied the game with an RBI single but was picked off first base. Carter then hit what was the game winning run, with a HR off Lance McCullers.

The Mets ran away with the NL East that season, clinching the division on September 17th at Shea Stadium. Carter went 1-4 in that game, as battery mate to winning pitcher Dwight Gooden.

Carter had one more multi-RBI game in the regular season, with 4 RBIs including a three run HR on October 2nd.closed out the regular season with a thirteen-game hit streak winning his second straight Silver Slugger Award & coming in third in the MVP voting.

For the 1986 World Champions, Carter led the team in RBIs with 105 which were third most in the league. 

He also led the team with 15 sacrifice flies, which were also tops in the league. He was second on the club to Daryl Strawberry with 24 HRs (9th in the NL). 

He also hit 14 doubles, had 81 runs scored & batted .255. He was hit by six pitches (6th most in the NL). 

Behind the plate, he handled a young and talented pitching staff well enough to make them the best in baseball. 

He caught 122 games behind the plate (5th most in the league) was second in the league in put outs (869) & third in fielding (.992%) throwing out 28% of base runners attempting to steal. He allowed 114 stolen bases which were third most in the league.


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