Friday, February 17, 2012

+Gary Carter Stats

+Gary Carter Stats, Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who helped lead the New York Mets to a World Series title in 1986, died Thursday. He was 57. Carter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May.

Death is forever relentless, rendering even sports immortals painfully mortal. The sad news of Gary Carter’s passing came on Thursday, just after 4 p.m., succumbing to cancer at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla., with his wife Sandy and children Christy, Kimmy and D.J. by his side.

The iconic Hall of Fame catcher passed away at age 57 due to the recurrence of an insidious form of cancer known as glioblastoma. Carter, the first major-league player inducted to Cooperstown to wear the Montreal Expos colours, was diagnosed with the disease last May.

Feeling not quite right, with headaches and issues with memory, Gary went in for tests and then underwent treatment at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. After Carter showed signs of improvement late in 2011, a magnetic resonance imaging discovered more cancerous tumours on his brain. His family in January flew to New York to receive a special award from the BBWAA at their annual banquet, where son D.J. read a message of hope, inspiration and gratitude from his dad.

Carter, in his 12th major-league season, won his only World Series ring as a member of the New York Mets in 1986, but for generations of Canadian baseball fans born prior to 1980 he was one of this country’s most recognizable and beloved athletes, the face of the Expos franchise. He was The Kid.

A third-round draft pick of the Expos in June 1972, the product of Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif., was a breath of fresh air for a franchise struggling to find a hero after the trade of Rusty Staub to the Mets. From the moment he arrived on the major-league scene in September of 1974, he captured the hearts and the imagination of the Expos’ faithful at Jarry Park and across the country.

At first he roamed the Expos outfield because of the presence of another talented young catcher, Barry Foote, who had established himself behind the plate. But after a series of injuries born of exuberance, Carter moved behind the plate full-time in 1977, when the Expos moved to Olympic Stadium.

Carter’s major-league debut was on Sept. 16, 1974 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Mets. In the lineup as a catcher, he led off the third inning for his first MLB plate appearance, against right-hander Randy Sterling, hitting a grounder to Wayne Garrett at third base and sprinting out of the box all the way through the bag on a routine groundout. It became his signature.

Carter would race down the line on every grounder. He flipped his bat on every ball four and sprinted to first base. He rounded every base hard — thinking about the next 90 feet, not the last. Opponents and some teammates were exasperated, but fathers with their sons and daughters watched on television and at the ballpark and insisted to their kids that that was the way they wanted them to play the game. Gary smiled, he did interviews, he signed autographs, he enjoyed life and his celebrity.

There was another side that involved pain, but it never slowed him down. Carter played much of his career with injuries and never complained publicly. In his early days as an outfielder in 1976, he raced toward centre field to make a catch, running into Pepe Mangual and breaking his thumb. He leaped against the short fence at Jarry Park on a flyball by Dave Cash and broke two ribs. At spring training that year, he had crashed into the brick wall that served as the left-field fence in Winter Haven and took 12 stitches above the eye. Teammate Larry Parrish’s dad was the stadium architect.

As an Expos’ catcher, he suffered an untimely broken thumb in September of the 1979 pennant race that likely allowed the Pirates to go on to the World Series. There were times when his knees were so ravaged by flap tears that he could not bend down to get into a crouch, but he manipulated the flaps manually until they were temporarily out of the way so that he could squat and play. He believed he could always have them fixed in the off-season. But through the pain, there was that hustle.