'86 Mets fondly recall Gary Carter

Former Mets players and other major leaguers gathered to sign autographs at Citi Field and share thoughts about Gary Carter, who has been battling brain cancer since May. Videojournalist: Patrick McCarthy (Jan. 22, 2012).

Several key members of the Mets' 1986 championship team Sunday shared their thoughts and prayers for Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher whose battle with brain cancer took a turn for the worse last week.

Carter's daughter, Kimmy Bloemers, wrote on the family's website that an MRI showed Carter had more tumors on his brain. Carter was first diagnosed with brain cancer in May.

At an MAB-Celebrity Services event at Citi Field Sunday, Mets from different eras gathered for a meet-and-greet with fans. But Carter's absence from a room filled with players from the 1986 team was felt by his former teammates.

"It doesn't matter how he feels or where he's at, he's our guy," said Ron Darling, the former pitcher and current Mets broadcaster. "He's such a big presence, even not being here, you feel him all the time."

Carter appeared at his annual golf tournament, which raises money for autism, in Florida last weekend. Hall of Famer Jim Palmer emceed the banquet dinner and thought Carter's spirits remained strong.

"I saw him in November," Palmer said. "I think he was a little self-conscious because he's put some weight on because of the steroids and the medicine. But he actually looked a lot better on Sunday. He spoke, he was very coherent, he was terrific."

Wally Backman, Carter's former teammate and current manager of the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, also attended the tournament. "We hugged and talked for probably a half-hour," Backman said. "He's weak, he's tired. He was able to say a few things at the dinner.

"It's just a sad situation," Backman added. "Everything about Gary is good. I don't believe anybody could ever say a bad thing about him."

On Saturday night, Carter was given the Arthur and Milton Richman "You Gotta Have Heart Award" at the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America dinner. His two daughters and son accepted the award for him. Darling said he knows the award meant a great deal to Carter.

So, too, would a fan event like Sunday's; the absence of "The Kid" did not go unnoticed.

"His presence is missed," former Mets and Yankees pitcher David Cone said. "Gary's such an upbeat, positive person. He lights up a room when he walks into it."

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