From the archives: Carter thrives as pinch hitter

Gary Carter, who played for the Mets from

Gary Carter, who played for the Mets from 1985-1989, was a fan favorite after he homered to win his first game as a Met at Shea Stadium. The enthusiastic “Kid” was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003. (Credit: AP)

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This article was originally published on Aug. 11, 1988

CHICAGO – Is there baseball life for Gary Carter after his catching days are over? Possibly. Carter, in an unscheduled but rousing audition, has shown he can be an effective pinch hitter. In fact, two more pinch hits will tie him with Lee Mazzilli for the team lead.

Carter was 0-for-his-last-10 years as a pinch hitter until this season. Suddenly, he is 4-for-5 with four RBI. "It's definitely a specialty that not everybody can do," Carter said. "Rusty [Staub] was outstanding, Manny Mota - Greg Gross has made a career of it. Don't think it's easy."

Carter said his 0-for-27 start at pinch hitting comes with an explanation. "In the past, whenever I was given time off, it was to nurse an injury or I desperately needed the time off," he said, meaning he came up as a pinch hitter in less than prime condition. The successful pinch hitters have found their art to be a career extender. While Carter, 34, does not see the end of his regular playing days for several years, he seems intrigued by the thought of pinch hitting for a living some day. "I could," he said, "but I don't know if that's quite in store for me."

Curses from an ump

Carter rarely uses profanity, so he was taken aback when umpire Greg Bonin leveled some on him in the seventh inning Monday night in Pittsburgh. Carter was called out on strikes and told Bonin he thought the pitch was outside. "He started cursing me and said I accused him of being a liar," Carter said. "After he started cursing, I walked away and I said, 'Why are you cursing at me?' He said, 'I talk like that.' I said, 'OK, guttermouth.' " Carter said he has been thrown out only twice in the majors, both times by Eric Gregg. "That was when I used to use the F-bomb."

Shedding light

Some players have a dim view of the new lights at Wrigley Field. "You can't say they were major-league standard compared to the other ballparks," Cubs rightfielder Andre Dawson said.

Mets leftfielder Kevin McReynolds offered an even less glowing assessment. "It kind of reminded me of playing in the minor leagues," he said. "The lighting wasn't that good."

While Wrigley has come out of the dark ages, it is still light years away from offering the modern conveniences fans have come to expect at other ballparks. There are no elevators, so elderly fans must trudge up steep cement runways to reach their seats in the upper deck. The scoreboard is still run manually, and there is no DiamondVision to see a replay of a great play.

Doc's record eaten up

One of Dwight Gooden's long-standing records has fallen. Gooden once consumed eight Philadelphia steak-and-cheese sandwiches during a three-day series in 1986. Vinny Greco, the Mets' assistant equipment manager, downed nine on the last visit to Philadelphia. "I went after Dwight's record. He's my eating idol," Greco said.

A prime-time rating

The Nielsen rating for Monday's rainout on WGN, which carries the Cubs' games, was the second-highest ever for the station. The game had an average of a 24.3 rating and 39 share. A rating point equals 30,000 households, and the share is the percentage of sets that are in use and tuned into the event.

Tuesday night's rating of 9.8 was the highest for a prime-time, regular-season baseball game since 1986, when ABC recorded a 10.4 for a Monday night telecast featuring the Yankees-Angels and Red Sox-Rangers. The Cubs-Mets game was also NBC's highest rating for a prime-time, regular-season game since 1983, when a Yankees-Brewers game drew a 10.4.

A skimpy sellout

The Mets are amused by the Cubs' continual reference to sold out Wrigley Field. The Cubs drew 36,399 to Tuesday's first "official" night game. The Mets are averaging more than 38,000 fans at home.

Exclamation points

Carter, on his quest to hit his 300th home run: "Even if I never hit another one, I'll still have 299."

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