Gary Carter brain tumor likely malignant

Updated: May 28, 2011, 11:04 AM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- A tumor on former New York Mets Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter's brain "appears to be malignant," according to doctors at Duke University.

"Following a thorough examination and assessment of Gary Carter, biopsies were performed (Friday) morning from a tumor located in Mr. Carter's brain," Dr. Allan H. Friedman and Dr. Henry S. Friedman, co-deputy directors of The Preston Robert Tisch Brian Tumor Center at Duke, said in a statement. "The preliminary results are that his tumor appears to be malignant. Once the pathology report is available, which will take several days, we will discuss treatment options with Mr. Carter and his family.

"In the meantime, Mr. Carter is in excellent spirits and good physical condition. He is resting comfortably, surrounded by his family. We hope that his friends and fans will continue to pray for Mr. Carter and his family during this time."

[+] EnlargeCarter
AP Photo/John DunnDoctors said Friday that a tumor in Hall of Famer Gary Carter's brain is likely malignant.

The 57-year-old Carter, who just completed his second season as Palm Beach Atlantic University's baseball coach, announced last Saturday that an MRI had revealed four small tumors on his brain. The Duke Medicine release says the biopsies were performed on a single tumor. Carter had been complaining of headaches and forgetfulness before his diagnosis.

After being diagnosed, Carter said, "My wife, Sandy, and our children and family thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We ask you to please respect our privacy as we learn more about my medical condition."

Carter, an 11-time All-Star, was inducted into Cooperstown in 2003 after retiring in 1992 with the Montreal Expos. He finished his 19-year career with a .262 average, 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs.

The effervescent Carter, nicknamed "Kid," is perhaps best known for helping the Mets win the 1986 World Series. He had 24 homers and 105 RBIs that year, then drove in 11 runs in the postseason.

Carter was Mets catcher Josh Thole's first minor league manager with the Gulf Coast Mets in 2005.

"It's sad. I just heard about it. He's a great guy. That's the hardest part of it," Thole said Friday night. "That man doesn't deserve this at all. But he's a tough guy, just from knowing him the little that I knew him, and he's gonna fight. He's gonna fight. To play for him was great, and you just wish he had a chance one day to manage in the big leagues.

"He told me what it was like. He was teaching you how to be a baseball player. How to carry yourself. If you were late for something, you were gonna pay for it. And you never showed up late again. He was that type of guy."

Thole said Carter was the type of manager that wanted his younger players to understand how to win -- even before they understood how to play the game itself.

"He always told us, 'I'm gonna teach you guys how to win first. And then development will take place. If I teach you how to win, everybody's gonna get their hits, everybody's gonna know how to bunt the baseball. Everybody's gonna know how to move guys over,'" Thole said. "And I guess, in the minor leagues you don't want that. He'd pinch-hit guys. He'd pinch-hit a prospect, but the prospect was struggling. He wanted to win.

"He's gonna fight this thing tooth and nails, and knowing him, nothing will get to him."

Mets first base coach Mookie Wilson was Carter's teammate for several years, including the 1986 World Series championship season.

"We're playing for him and his family," Wilson said Friday night. "And we're praying for the best."

Wilson had been in text communication with Carter through a mutual friend.

"Gary was one of the happiest guys in the world," Wilson said. "That's why we called him 'The Kid.' I saw him a couple months ago and he was in good spirits and good health, and then to find this out is shocking because we're the same age and it could happen to any of us. We just have to hope for the best, that's all.

"We know that he's a competitor, and I think that gives him an edge. He's gonna go in it with the intent of beating it and I think that's the only way for anyone to do it, and Gary, that's the way he is."

Wilson recalled how emotional of a player Carter was -- sometimes too emotional for some.

"He would just hug guys all the time. He was a very emotional type of player. I think sometimes the guys didn't want him hugging them as much as he did but, that's just the way Gary was," Wilson said. "He was emotional about the game and he really cared about his teammates. The opposing team didn't like him because of the energy he brought. I know, I was on the opposing team at one point. But it was nothing personal. But everybody wanted him on their team, that's just the relationship we developed over the years."

Earlier this week -- prior to the news that Carter's tumors are likely cancerous -- former Mets teammate David Cone expressed concern for his former catcher.

"Both he and Sandy Carter, his wife, are just wonderful people, very involved in a lot of charities around the country," Cone told ESPN researcher Mark Simon. "They've done a lot of great work that helps a lot of people.

"My heart really goes out to Gary and I'm pulling for him to come through this. I know he's strong and his family is strong and that he will be OK. Certainly we're worried about him and we certainly wish him the best."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPN researcher Mark Simon and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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