Gary Carter’s legacy continues to live on a year after the “The Kid” tragically succumbed to his battle with cancer at the age of 57.
The catcher with the golden smile was the major influence in my aspirations to pursue baseball as a young child in a small Northern Ontario town famous for hockey.
Carter was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 3rd round 53rd overall in the 1972 Amateur baseball draft as an outfielder out of Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Florida.
Carter shot through the Expos farm system making his major league debut in 1974 where he played nine games as a 20 year old for the Expos and immediately embracing Montreal and Canada like it was his home land.
In 1975 Carter split time between the outfield and learning the skills of the trade behind the plate at the major league level. The Kid finished up his rookie campaign with a .270 average and 17 home runs good for second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting behind the San Francisco Giants pitcher John Montefusco.
Carter would go on to play 12 seasons with the Expos amassing 220 home runs and leading the Expos to a playoff berth in 1981 where they were eventually eliminated by Rick Monday and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
The Expos Management decided to part ways with Gary Carter rather than sign him to a long term deal trading him to the New York Mets in 1984 as part of a 5 player deal that would pay huge dividends for the Mets faithful.
In 1986 Gary Carter became a World Series champion leading the Mets over the Boston Red Sox in one of the most memorable World Series in baseball history.
The Kid remained a Metropolitan until the 1990 season where Carter spent seasons with the Giants and Dodgers before returning home to play his final major league season in 1992 as a member of the Montreal Expos.
Carter would hang up his spikes after the 1992 season after a career of knee surgeries and a trophy case full of accomplishments.
Gary Carter played 19 seasons at the most demanding position on the diamond with a smile on his face and a desire to win at all cost.
In 2001 I had the opportunity to stroke a goal off my bucket list when I attended the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ontario for Carter’s Canadian Hall of Fame induction. Carter lived up to everything a person could ask for in a role model and then some as I left the Hall of Fame that day thankful to the baseball gods.
In 2003 the BBWAA finally got the vote correct and enshrined Gary Carter into Cooperstown acknowledging the 11 All-Star appearances, five Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and 324 career home runs The Kid blessed baseball fans with.
Gary Carter was not only a Hall of Fame baseball player but a Hall of Fame human being and will forever live on in the hearts of baseball fans not only in Canada but around the world. RIP my friend.
Gary Carter April 08, 1954- February 16, 2012