Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher whose single for the New York Mets in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series sparked one of the most improbable rallies in baseball history, died Thursday afternoon. He was 57.
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Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Carter died at a hospice in the Palm Beach, Florida, area.
"I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m.," Carter's daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family website. "This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life, but I wanted you all to know."
"Driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, Gary Carter became one of the truly elite catchers of all-time," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Like all baseball fans, I will always remember his leadership for the '86 Mets team and his pivotal role in one of the greatest World Series ever played."
With New York trailing the Boston Red Sox 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6 of the '86 Series, Carter stepped to the plate with nobody on and two outs. He would later say that he had just one thought in mind as he came up to bat: "I wasn't going to make the last out of the World Series."
True to his word, Carter delivered a solid single to left off Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi. Kevin Mitchell followed with a single, and when Ray Knight also singled, Carter scored from second. Moments later, Bill Buckner's error on a Mookie Wilson grounder scored Knight for an amazing 6-5 win.
Overshadowed by the rally was the fact that Carter had tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the 8th. Then in Game 7, he drove in the tying run in the 6th inning, and the Mets went on to win their most recent championship.
Overall, Carter was an 11-time All-Star and 3-time Gold Glove winner. He hit .262 with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs with the Mets, Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. He also set the major league record for putouts by a catcher, a testament to his durability despite a total of nine knee operations throughout the course of his career.