I was sad to hear that Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter passed away today at 57.
I remember well the battles between the Cardinals and Carter's New York Mets for dominance of the old National League East in the mid to late '80s. My best friend in high school was a big Mets fan, so there was a lot of back-and-forth smack talk between us all the time. The Cards won in '85, the Mets in '86, and then a dramatic late September '87 series at Shea Stadium almost saw the first-place Cards drop their lead to the "Pond Scum" (as they were affectionately called in St. Louis). But Terry Pendleton's improbable homer to deep center field won the crucial game for the Cardinals and a third trip in the decade to the World Series. My friend wasn't as trash-talking the next day at school.
Though he could get under the skin of the opposition, Gary Carter was a class act, always smiling on the field but definitely a hard-nosed competitor. Thankfully, he was able to enjoy his election to the Hall of Fame and bask in its glow for several years before he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. God bless you, "Kid."