in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Opening Day at Shea Stadium takes on a World Series atmosphere as Gary Carter makes his debut with the New York Mets. A crowd of 46,781 fills the stadium. Vice President George Bush is on hand to throw out the first pitch. Carter would end up as the star of the game as he collects two hits, including a walk-off home run in the tenth inning to give the Mets a 6-5 win.
After seven years of suffering, the New York Mets had a reawakening in 1984, as the prospects that had been in their system began to develop into stars. These included back-to-back players winning Rookie of the Year in Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. Add the veteran leadership of Keith Hernandez and the Mets after a 90-72 season looked poised to become one of the top teams in the National League. The Mets went into the offseason looking to add one last big piece and acquired All-Star Catcher Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos sending, Herm Winningham, Mike Fitzgerald, Hubie Brooks, and Floyd Youmans in return.
Gary Carter was born on April 8, 1954, in Culver City, California. A star in football and baseball, Carter won the Punt, Pass, and Kick contest as seven-year-old. In 1972, he turned down a scholarship from UCLA to play baseball after being drafted in the third round by the Montreal Expos. Carter made his debut at the end of the 1974 season. In 1975 he made the National League All-Star team and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. Over the next decade, Gary Carter became a fan favorite in Montreal, winning the All-Star Game MVP in 1981 and 1984. Unable to reach Carter’s salary demands, the Expos would trade him to the Mets during the winter meetings.
Big things were expected for the Mets in 1985, as Dwight Gooden was poised to become the next big star in baseball as he was on countless baseball previews, including Sports Illustrated, while he adorned a giant mural near Time’s Square. Vice President George Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch caught by Gary Carter. Bush’s uncle George Walker Jr. had once been part of the Mets ownership group.
The Mets got two runs in the first inning against Joaquin Andujar as Keith Hernandez singled home Mookie Wilson, and later scored on a bases-loaded walk to Howard Johnson. Jack Clark put St. Louis on the board with a home run in the second inning. In the third inning, the Cardinals tied the game, when Lonnie Smith scored on a passed ball by Gary Carter. The Mets quickly got the lead back as George Forster homered in the bottom of the inning. In the fourth, Gooden scored on a single by Hernandez to make it 4-2, while Rafael Santana and a run-scoring double in the fifth to give the Mets a 5-2 lead chasing Andujar from the game.
Dwight Gooden meanwhile tired in the seventh, giving up singles to Andy Van Slyke and Ozzie Smith before making his exit. Both runs would score on a double by Tommy Herr against Doug Sisk, as Dwight Gooden on the way to a Cy Young season allowed four runs on six hits in six-plus with six strikeouts. Sisk who would take on the name Doug Risk, who walk in the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning. Jesse Orosco retired one batter to prevent further damage. The Mets meanwhile failed to score against Neil Allen in the ninth as the game went to extra innings. Tom Gorman pitched around a two-out double in the top of the tenth, setting the stage for Gary Carter. Allen started the tenth with a strikeout of Keith Hernandez, the player whom the Mets acquired when he was sent to St. Louis in 1983. With one swing of the bat, the game was over as Gary Carter sent the ball into the leftfield bullpen to give the Mets a 6-5 win.
The Mets would finish the 1985 season with a record of 98-64 but finished three games behind the Cardinals in the race for the National League East. Gary Carter would hit a career-high 32 home runs in 1985, adding 100 RBI and batting .281. The Mets would go on to win the World Series in 1986.