Gary Carter’s Montreal Expos Legacy

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]I remember Gary Carter mostly as one of the culprits of the most astonishing World Series comeback in baseball history.  If you live around these parts, you probably feel the same way.  The Red Sox, up by two runs in the bottom of the Ninth of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, was just one out away from their first World Series since 1918.  After harmless flyballs from Keith Hernandez and Wally Backman were caught for the first two outs in the 10th inning, Gary Carter, on an 2-1 count singled to left center field, starting an onslaught that would scar Red Sox fans like me for years to come.  I remember watching the little floater like it was yesterday, hoping Mike Greenwell or Dave Henderson would make the catch, all to no avail. What a lot of people forget is that Gary Carter also drove in the tying run in the bottom of the EIGHTH inning in that same game to bring the game into extra innings in the first place.  So, Calvin Schiraldi blew the game not once but TWICE.

That was my first thought when I heard that Gary Carter died this afternoon of brain cancer.

While many believe that 1985 and 1986 were Carter’s best years – playing for the New York Mets – an argument can be made that Carter’s best days were indeed for the Montreal Expos.  He suited up for the rouge, bleu et blanc from 1974-1984 during the team’s heyday, what with Andre Dawson, Al Oliver, Tim Raines and Steve Rogers anchoring a strong contending team.  While with the Expos, Carter was second in the 1975 Rookie of the Year Ballot, 2nd in the 1980 MVP vote and won received two Silver Slugger awards.  1984 saw Carter lead the National League with 106 RBIs as an everyday catcher.  All three of his Gold Gloves were awarded while with the Expos.  His WAR was All Star quality for 7 of the last 8 years he played in Montreal, including three years 1982-84 where his WAR was high enough to garner the MVP.  All in all, a stellar career in Montreal.

To further define his value for the Expos, in the 1981 Playoffs, Carter batted .429 with a .488 OBP in 10 games against the Phillies in the NLDS and the Dodgers in the NLCS.  With that performance, he nearly singlehandedly carried the Expos past the Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series.

While Carter always wished to have the Expos and the Mets be his cap when enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Committee ultimately chose the Expos as the hat he would wear.  Personally, I think his career with the Expos warrant this honor.  And the city of Montreal was a better place for having known him.

But, yes, I will always remember that dumpy little single back in 1986. RIP.

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