Gary Carter’s death at 57 from a brain tumor hits home for Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who skippered the New York Mets from 1984-90 and had Carter as his catcher from 1985-89. Carter backstopped the 1986 Mets who went 108-54 and won the only World Series on Johnson’s resume.
Carter spent the first 12 year of his Hall of Fame career with the Nationals’ predecessors, the Montreal Expos. The affable catcher nicknamed “Kid” hit .269 with 220 home runs and 823 RBIs for the Expos and the December 1984 trade that sent him to the Mets in exchange for third baseman Hubie Brooks, catcher Mike Fitzgerald, outfielder Herm Winningham and pitcher Floyd Youmans is generally regarded as the final piece that made a championship team with Johnson at the helm.
In his 19 major league seasons - he also spent a year each with the Giants and Dodgers - Carter was one of the game’s true ambassadors. He also excelled on the field, garnering 11 All-Star nods, Most Valuable Player Awards in 1981 and 1984 with the Expos, three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers. He was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2003, in his sixth year on the ballot.
“Today, the world of baseball lost a Hall of Famer and I have lost a treasured friend,” Johnson said tonight in a team-issued statement. “Anyone lucky enough to have been part of Gary Carter’s world will agree ... nobody loved life in a bigger way than Gary. He seized every opportunity to savor what mattered most to him: his close-knit, loving family; meaningful, enduring friendships; an unbridled passion for baseball; and the fulfillment he felt from making a difference in his community. Gary’s brave battle has ended, but his from-the-gut laughter will be heard and his vitality and spirit will be felt forever. I loved him very much, and I know he is finally at peace.”
In August 2010, Carter traveled to Nationals Park, where his name and the Expos logo were placed on the facade above the field-level box seats. Carter’s name, along with Hall of Fame Expo Andre Dawson, joined former Washington Senators also enshrined in Cooperstown.
“I just found out about five minutes ago that they put this ring of honor up there,” Carter said that night. “I mean, I’m just overwhelmed. To now be recognized with Andre Dawson and all the great Washington Senators players, I’m speechless basically, and that’s tough for me to do. ... There will always be a remembrance here at Nationals Park, and I’m very honored and very proud.”