Remembering Mets History (1988) Gary Carter Finally Hits 300th Career HR

In 1988 Gary Carter was 34 years old, he was a 15-veteran catcher, who's body had been beaten up behind the plate & he was starting to show age. Carter's numbers were starting to fall off & the next season would be his last in New York. He was still an All-Star catcher & a very popular player.

On May 16th, Carter hit his 299th career HR, a two-run shot off the Padres' Greg Booker. He drove in four runs, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win in San Diego. At that time, he was batting .284. The Mets were in first place, with a two-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The milestone #300 HR, loomed over Carter as he went into a HR drought, not hitting another HR for 65 games, 225 at bats & just five days shy of three months since his last longball. 

By now his average had fallen to .251. The Mets were still in first place, with a five-game lead over the Pirates.

Thursday August 11th, 1988: Three nights earlier, the Mets had lost to the Cubs, in the first night game ever played at Wrigley Field. Wrigley Field was the last ballpark to install lights, as all Cubs home games were day games. 

In this matinee at Wrigley Field, Davey Johnson's Mets (67-48) visited Don Zimmer's fourth place Chicago Cubs (55-56). 

Dwight Gooden (13-6) went for the Mets up against the Cubs Al Nipper (2-4) in front of 31,942 in the Friendly Confines. This would be Nipper's last game until the 1990 season, as elbow & knee injuries kept him out.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Gary Carter led off the inning with a solo HR, reaching his 300th career HR milestone. He was greeted by Howard Johnson at the plate & walked into the dugout with a smile & a sigh of relief after the long HR drought.

Quotes- Gary Carter: "It certainly was a nice feeling, it was a long time coming, but it's very special. Now that that is out of the way & the monkey is off my back, we can go out & win this thing".

The Cubs took the lead off Gooden in the bottom of the inning, with triples from Andre Dawson & Damon Berryhill, as well as a single from Rafael Palmeiro.

In the top of the 3rd, Wally Backman & Keith Hernandez both singled. Darryl Strawberry reached on a Ryne Sandberg error, scoring Backman to tie it up at two. Kevin McReynolds then singled to left scoring Hernandez, putting New York ahead 3-2.

In the bottom of the 3rd, the Cubs sent ten men to the plate, collecting five hits, a walk & a passed ball charged to Carter. They scored four runs, putting them ahead 6-3. 

In the 7th, Lenny Dykstra brought the Mets a bit closer with a solo HR. Zimmer relieved Nipper with Frank DiPino.

In the top of the 9th, DiPino gave up lead off singles to Kevin Elster & Mookie Wilson. Zimmer brought in Pat Perry to fae  Lenny Dykstra. Dykstra singled scoring Elster to make it a one run 6-5 game.  

Mookie Wilson then stole third base, his 12th stolen base of the season Keith Hernandez was hit by a pitch to load up the bases.

After Darryl Strawberry struck out, Veteran Rich "Goose" Gossage was brought in to pitch to Kevin McReynolds. The reliable McReynolds, blasted a grand slam off the Goose, sealing the Mets 9-6 victory. It was McReynolds 17th HR of the year.

Mets relievers, Randy Meyers & Roger McDowell closed it out. The win was a much-needed win
as the club had lost three straight. Manager Davey Johnson still wasn't happy with the team's play despite the win.

Quotes- Kevin McReynolds: "I definitely think this was the type of game we needed. Whether or not it will slap us out of our daze, I don't know".

Trivia: Gary Carter would go on to hit 324 career HRs, 89 of them as a Met. The Mets went on to win the NL East in 1988 but lost in the NLCS to the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.


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