A long, long time ago Gary Carter represented youth, hope, power, confidence and swagger. If ever there was a personality that vaulted the expansion Expos into the major leagues it was The Kid. I remember Carter breaking in with the Expos of Gene Mauch and hanging around through the heart of the 70s and the downturn in the early 80s.
When he first arrived Carter caught some and played him in the outfield. The club had another young catcher (Barry Foote) and he was young too. There was a problem, but the new arrival didn’t see it that way.
One post-game interview with Dave Van Horne and Duke Snider put it all to bed. Carter was asked if he felt the outfield was his future and the Kid said “no”, going on to explain that the situation now (this was 1975) could change down the line. It did, and in a quick hurry. Foote’s bat left him and injuries started piling up, and the Expos sent him along to the Cubs around 1977.
Carter was a terrific catcher, great thrower and could handle a pitching staff expertly. If not for a Steve Rogers “middle-in” fastball that rode into the heart of the plate Carter may have been part of a WS winner in 1981. He could peg second base and was excellent covering home plate. However, most of Carter’s HOF value came via the lumber, with tremendous power and durability. He lacked foot speed (the GIDP’s killed us in the late 70s, Ellis Valentine and Warren Cromartie gathered them like flies on honey) but he was an outstanding hitter for power. I don’t think we can name 10 catchers in MLB history who hit in the heart of the order for as long as Gary Carter.
His personality did him good (lots of endorsements) and bad (lost a season because the veterans played a trick on him in spring training, 1974) but I don’t think you’ll find an Expo fan alive who isn’t pretty solemn about today’s news. When I was a kid, Kid Carter was one of my heroes. I can’t believe he’s gone. Thank you kid Carter, for all of those wonderful memories. Rest in peace.