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Remembering Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter [AUDIO]

Red Sox v Mets 1986 World Series
New York Mets Catcher Gary Carter #8 tags out Jim Rice #14 of the Boston Red Sox during game 7 of the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium on October 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets won the series 4-3. (Photo by T.G. Higgins/Getty Images)

I’m still saddened by the passing of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. The 57-year old was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, and fought until the very end. Carter spent 19 years in the big leagues and was an 11-time All-Star. He was best known for his five seasons with the New York Mets.

As a longtime Mets fan, I have fond memories  of their 1986 World Series Championship. Carter, along with Keith Hernandez were the leaders of that team. It was Carter’s single with two outs in the 9th inning of Game 6 that kept their World Series hopes alive. Two batters later, Carter scored on a single and the next batter was Mookie Wilson. What happened then became the stuff of baseball lore. A slow ground ball, finding the slightest room under Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s glove, and then trickling into right field. The Mets won Game 6 in improbable fashion, and Carter was one of the first players to congratulate teammate Ray Knight at home plate, as he scored the winning run. New York went on to win the following night to capture their first World Series title since 1969.

As a 13-year old kid in El Paso, I still remember taking a Polaroid picture of the final out of the 1986 World Series (it’s in my autograph book). So, you can imagine the thrill I had when 20 years later I was able to interview “The Kid” over thephone on Sportstalk. I found that interview this morning, and had not listened to it in almost six years. Carter, who was managing the Mets’ high-A affiliate in St. Lucie at the time, had just been named to the same role for the Futures Game. We talked about family, managing in the Minor Leagues, and his thoughts on the 20th anniversary of the `86 Mets. After listening to the interview, it’s easy to understand why he was such a likable person and fan favorite. 

“When I retired in ’92 as a player, I basically wanted to spend more time with my family, but I still wanted to try and stay involved with the game. It’s been a game that I loved and had a great deal of passion for; it’s been my life.” 

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“You really have to come up with your own way of managing, and I feel you go on gut feelings sometimes, you go with whims, you go with who you think will win you a ballgame…I’ve been there before, I’ve won a World Series, I’ve been on division winners, and I want you guys to experience this.”

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“The greatest thrill and I would say the highlight of my career was winning that ’86 World Championship, especially in the manner in which we did. We won 108 regular season games and we just dominated the division…We know what happened in the World Series. Game 6 and the ball through Bill Buckner’s legs. How we came back from a 5-3 deficit with 2-outs in the bottom of the 10th inning.”  

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