Hall of Fame catcher and all-around good guy Gary Carter has died of cancer, according to a tweet by New York Times columnist Richard Sandomor. He was 57.

Carter, who played for the Giants in 1990, was a true ambassador of the game.

Back in the days before fantasy baseball, I grew up playing Strat-O-Matic with my friends, and Carter (who was a Montreal Expo then) was one of those guys I always wanted to “draft” on my team.

He came up with the Expos after being selected in the third round of the 1972 draft and spent his first 11 years in Montreal. He eventually played for the Mets (1985-’89) and Dodgers (1991), too.

I remember Carter being the runner-up to Giants pitcher John Montefusco in the 1975 NL Rookie of the Year voting following a season in which he batted .270 with 17 HR and 68 RBI in 144 games.

But while The Count’s career soon fizzled, The Kid’s caught fire.

In 19 big league seasons, Carter batted .262/.335/.439 with 324 HR and 1,225 RBI. He smacked 20 or more home runs in a season nine different times. A good-hitting catcher with fantastic skills behind the plate, Carter hit .284 with 31 HR and 84 RBI as a 23-year-old. (Remind you of another young catcher who can hit, Giants fans?)

Carter was named to the National League All-Star team 11 times, won three Gold Gloves, and five Silver Slugger awards.

By the time Carter got around to playing in San Francisco, his skills had diminished. Still, he joined the likes of Brett Butler, Kevin Bass, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Matt Williams, Robby Thompson, Jose Uribe, and ‘Big Daddy’ Rick Reuschel in the Giants’ Opening Day lineup in 1990.

Carter batted .254 with 9 HR and 27 RBI in just 92 games with the Giants that year. But, frankly, I didn’t care. I remember thinking how cool it was just to see him in the orange and black. He was riding into the sunset of a terrific, Hall of Fame-bound career. (For those of you too young to remember Gary’s days in San Francisco, think about how you felt when we got Randy Johnson for a year. It was a lot like that.)

The Culver City, Calif. native retired from baseball two years later with—who else?—the Expos. Like I said, Carter was definitely one of those throwback guys who understood team loyalty.

It took six tries, but he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, appearing on 387 out of 496 ballots (78 percent).

His plaque in Cooperstown reads:
As (Gary) Carter’s game improved, so did the fortunes of the (Monreal) Expos. Led by ‘The Kid,’ a nickname Carter acquired as a result of his youthful exuberance and ever-present smile, the team steadily improved from 107 losses in 1976 to back-to-back second place finishes in 1979 and 1980.

Carter was diagnosed with brain cancer eight months ago and his condition went from “brave to extremely grave” last month, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.

An MRI showed several new spots where tumors had appeared and Carter had to cancel his appearance at his annual charity golf tournament.

Carter, a devout Christian, was quite the philanthropist. He established The Gary Carter Foundation and—according to its website—raised “over $622,000 toward charitable purposes, including $366,000 to local elementary schools for their reading programs.”

Carter is survived by his wife, Sandy and their three daughters, Christy, Kimmy and D.J. He will always be loved by fans like me, who got to see a true legend play.

Rest in peace, Mr. Carter.

Written by Troy Nelson via FeedCrossing


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