Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

Gary Edmund Carter
Nickname: The Kid
Born: April 8, 1954 in Culver City, Calif. 
Debut: 1974 | Pos: C
Ht: 6’2″ | Wt: 215 | B: R | T: R

19 2296 7971 1025 2092 324 1225 39 .262

>> Visit the Gary Carter biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.

It took several tries — 6 in fact — but Gary Carter became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.  

Carter established himself as one of the best catchers in the game in the 1980s and hit 324 home runs and drove in 1,225 runs in his 19-year career.  Shortly after learning that he had been selected along with Eddie Murray, Carter was asked about having to wait so long.

“I’m thankful and grateful to be inducted,” he said.  “It doesn’t matter what year you go in, as long as you go in.”

He found out about the honor on the golf course.  He received a phone call at 12:08 p.m. on a cell phone and those with him knew something had happened.

“I said, ‘Yes!’ and I raised my arm up,” he said. “It’s one I’ll savour for the rest of my life.”

“I’ve never been one who’s lost for words, but when I stand up at the podium at Cooperstown, I imagine I will get a little choked up,” he said.

It wasn’t always easy to be a catcher.  Carter said he had 9 knee operations and 14 major surgeries in his career.

“I didn’t feel any pain after I got that call at 12:08,” he said.  “It’s nice to feel like a kid again because that’s what this day represented.”

If some colleges in the U.S. had had their way, Carter might be a member of the Football Hall of Fame instead of a 2003 inductee into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Carter, a standout football player and shortstop,  turned down more than 100 football scholarships to sign with the Montreal Expos.  Then, he discovered that the Expos didn’t plan to use him as a shortstop.

When he arrived with the Expos in 1974, he began to make the transition to catcher.  As he learned the position, he split time between the plate and the outfield.

“I was the worst catcher you ever saw — a real joke,” Carter once said.  Eventually, the gamble paid off for Carter and Montreal.

His journey through the Expos organization began in 1972.  The 18-year-old played with Cocoa and West Palm Beach. Between the clubs, he hit 2 home runs and drove in 14 runs.

In 1973, he hit .253 with Quebec City with 15 home runs and 68 RBI.  He caught the big league club’s attention in 1974 when he hit .268 for Memphis with 23 home runs and 83 RBI. He earned a late-season callup and debuted in the major leagues on Sept. 16, 1974. In 27 at-bats, he hit .407 with a home run and 6 RBI.

Barry Foote was the Expos’ starting catcher and Carter found himself splitting time . In 1975, he played 92 games in the outfield and 66 behind the plate. In 1976, he caught 36 and played 60 in rightfield.

In his first full season in 1975, Carter, just 21, hit .270 with 17 home runs, 68 RBI and added 5 stolen bases.

Carter broke his finger in 1976 and he posted disappointing numbers that season of .219 with 6 HR and 38 RBI.  

Things changed for Carter in 1977 when the Expos traded Foote to leave the catching job open for Carter.  He responded with a .284 average, 31 HRs and 84 RBIs. In 1978, after struggling to learn the position in his previous seasons, Carter set a record for catchers when he allowed only one passed ball in 157 games.

He was named a starter in the All-Star game in 1981 and he home runs off Ken Forsch and Ron Davis to become only the 6th player to hit 2 home runs in an All-Star game.  In 1984, he homered off Dave Stieb as the helped the National League win the All-Star Game and he captured his second All-Star MVP honor.

A trade in 1985 sent Carter to the New York Mets. A year later, he hit 2 home runs and drove in 9 runs to help the Mets beat Boston in the World Series.

He injured his knee in 1988 and was released by New York the following season.  He finished his career with the San Francisco Giants in 1990, the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991 and the Montreal Expos in 1992. 

Following his career as a player, he appeared briefly with the Florida Marlins as one of the team’s original broadcast crew.  Most recently, he has started to work with the New York Mets as a catching instructor.

—  Dean Lollis