PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter was remembered by former teammates and colleagues for his smile, energy and competitiveness.
Carter died Thursday at age 57 from a malignant brain tumor. The American flag outside of Digital Domain Park, the spring training home of the New York Mets, was lowered to half-staff in his honor Friday along with the Canadian flag outside Montreal’s Olympic Park.
“When I broke into the big leagues until a month ago, Gary kept in touch,” Mets third baseman David Wright said. “He would call and just want to talk about baseball and the team and what I was feeling at the plate. It was incredible for him to be in the situation he was in and to take some time out — 15 to 20 minutes — and just want to talk baseball. Just the energy in his voice, talking about this organization and talking about the game, those will be my lasting memories and something that will stick with me pretty vividly.
“He knew the situation he was in, he knew that clock was ticking and he just wanted to be around the game and talk about the clubhouse and what was happening on the field.”
Carter was an 11-time All-Star during 19 major league seasons, primarily with the Montreal Expos and Mets. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.
“Initially it was sad and then you realize that he lived a great life,” said Mets third base coach Tim Teufel, a teammate on the 1986 World Series champions. “I think, speaking from their family standpoint, there’s remorse, but there’s peace because he’s such a godly man. I think they’ve probably come to the place knowing that he’s pain free and in a better place. Gary was infectious. His smile his attitude toward the game, his attitude toward life.”
In 2005, his first year managing, Carter led the Gulf Coast League Mets to the league final. In 2006, he guided the St. Lucie Mets to the Florida State League championship.
“The energy and always the laugh and the smile,” said Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones, who was the St. Lucie Mets’ pitching coach in 2006. “People talk about the smile and it was true. The guy would come to the ball park with the uniform, always energetic, always wanting to win, always laughing, always wanted to be a winning team. He taught me that.”
At Montreal’s Olympic Park, management announced plans to consult with Carter’s family and make plans to name a space in the area after him.
One federal politician, Liberal Denis Coderre, raised the possibility of renaming the metro stop at Olympic Stadium, replacing the current name of Pope Pius IX.
On the green parquet floor of Canada’s Parliament in Ottawa, members of different political parties read tributes.
Carter’s death was front-page news on all three of Montreal’s daily newspapers. The NHL’s Montreal Canadiens also planned to honor Carter before their game Sunday. Carter played for the Expos from 1974-84 and again in 1992.