Carter Hits No. 300 … Finally
August 11, 1988
In his prime, Gary Carter ranked as one of the best catchers in the majors, both at the plate and behind it. But when problems in his right knee slowed “The Kid” in 1987, it started to look like the twilight of his illustrious career. Nevertheless, Carter entered the 1988 season just nine homers away from 300 and felt he had plenty left in his bat. Beginning a new workout program in the off-season, he was eager to refute doubts about his age.
The Mets took steps to ensure that Carter would remain fresh by limiting the number of games he caught. He responded with a .333 average, seven home runs, and 15 RBIs in the month of April.
Carter hit his eighth homer against the San Diego Padres on May 16. One more, and he would become the 59th player to reach the 300-homer milestone. It was only a matter of time.
87 days, to be exact.
Carter didn’t go deep until August 11th, when he parked an Al Nipper pitch into Wrigley Field’s left-field stands during the second inning of a game against the Cubs. The blast ended a homerless drought of 225 at-bats.
“I feel as though a weight has been lifted off of me,” Carter told reporters after the game. “I must have made 10 to 15 adjustments trying to get untracked, changing my hands, my feet, my swing. Some guy even called and told me to stand closer to the plate, and I did, a couple of inches.”
After the season, Carter reflected upon his chase and confessed that he had let the pressure affect his production. “I also let the 300th home run get to me,” Carter explained. “I think I was trying too hard, got into some bad habits and the result was 225 at-bats without a home run.”
A steadying force behind the plate for the Mets pitching staff, Carter helped his team to 100 wins and a berth in the NLCS, despite hitting just three homers and driving in 13 runs after the All Star break. His 11 home runs were the fewest Carter had hit in any season since 1976.
Carter’s wait for the 300-homer milestone was not the longest in baseball history. Hall-of-Fame outfielder Chuck Klein took 128 days to hit his 300th and final home run of his career.