Sunday, August 19, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 1990

Part 29 of our 50-year Kid...
What is it: 1990 Topps #790, Gary Carter

What makes it interesting: GACK! After a number of years of really great-looking designs, Topps vomited up this multi-colored monstrosity in 1990. I'm not sure what, exactly, brought this on, but my suspicion is that the heat from competing brands like Donruss and Upper Deck might have had something to do with it.

There's little I could say about Gary Carter that hasn't already been said. A fiery, charismatic leader, Carter was to the Mets, perhaps, what Dave DeBusschere was to the Knicks a generation earlier: The missing piece to the Championship puzzle. Carter was the premiere Catcher in the Majors through the early 1980s, and toiling away for a languishing Expos team, he longed for the opportunity to win a championship. The Mets were a team on the rise, full of young stars ready to break out and in need of an established Veteran leader to bring it all together. The resulting deal that would bring Carter to the Mets on December 10th 1984 was, perhaps, the perfect storm. Carter said in his introductory press conference that he was "saving the right ring finger for a World Series Ring."

In his first game with the Mets, on April 9th, 1985, Carter hit a Walkoff Home Run in the 10th inning. This pretty much set the tone for Carter in New York. The fans were immediately taken with their new star and never looked back. Carter was never one to back down from the adoration the fans heaped on him, answering their cheers with exuberant, fist pumping curtain calls after his Home Runs. Carter was a rock for the Mets, hitting a career-high 32 Home Runs, and driving in 100 runs in '85. Carter was just as solid in '86, driving home another 105 runs as the Mets romped to a Division Title. Though he did suffer a severe slump, the playoffs that season would provide several signature moments for Carter, among them his Game winning hit in Game 5 of the NLCS, and his 2 Home Runs in Game 4 of the World Series. He would catch every inning of every Postseason game that year. And, of course, he was the last man standing for the Mets on October 25th, 1986, with 2 out and nobody on in the Bottom of the 10th. And, of course, he flared that single in front of Jim Rice to start the rally. And he scored the first run that brought the Mets closer to their goal. And, two nights later, he caught the final strike of the season from Jesse Orosco, and his dream had finally come true. He'd finally won that World Series Championship that had eluded him for so many years.

Though age would catch up with Carter, as it would for many Catchers as their careers drew on, he remained a leader, an All Star and a Fan Favorite. He would hit his 300th career Home Run with the Mets on August 11th, 1988, after a HR drought that lasted nearly 3 months. But by 1989, injuries to his knees finally caught up with him. No longer able to be an everyday player, Carter would not be resigned by the Mets after his contract expired. The fans knew this, and afforded him with huge ovations every time he came to the plate late in the '89 season.

Gary Carter retired following the 1992 seasons as one of the greatest Catchers in Major League History. He would remain a beloved figure by all Mets fans, everywhere. He would remain active within the Mets Minor league system. In 2001, he would be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. And in 2003, he would receive the ultimate honor for his outstanding career when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sadly, Gary Carter was felled by Brain Cancer in early 2012. Mets fans never forget, though, giving rousing cheers to the Gary Carter tribute video that would play at Citi Field throughout 2011, and welcoming Carter's widow and children with a huge ovation when they appeared to reveal Gary Carter's memorial patch on Opening Day in 2012. Gary Carter was a champion warrior, and will remain as one of the greatest heroes the Mets have known.

Card back:

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