Carter Looks Forward To Bringing a Championship To Long Island

by: Brian Bohl | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CENTRAL ISLIP, NY - Gary Carter fortified his Cooperstown credentials with the Mets two decades ago. Now, the Hall of Fame catcher is returning to New York to bolster his image and his résumé for the next phase in his career, officially becoming the fourth manager in Ducks history Monday afternoon.

“I’m very proud to be back in New York and with this organization,” said Carter after donning a home white No. 8 Ducks jersey. “I came here to try and provide a championship with the Ducks. I love to teach and to be in uniform and work with the kids. I’m here to provide my knowledge and experience.”

During his introductory press conference at Citibank Park, Carter said he is looking forward to managing again while also attempting to repair his reputation. Last spring, Carter was criticized by media members and former Mets teammates for publicly suggesting he would be interested in the Mets job before Willie Randolph was fired in June.

“Things can be taken out of context,” Carter said about proclaiming his interest in coaching or managing at the major league level. “There was no intention to undermine anybody. I was asked a question if I’d be interested. Of course I’d be interested in any capacity. If it’s not with the Mets, then maybe with someone else.”

“I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and that’s the way I answered it. Unfortunately, I was thrown under the bus for it. I’ve learned from it, though. ”

Managing the Ducks won’t be Carter’s first foray in the independent minor leagues. Carter led the Orange County Flyers to the Golden Baseball League (Calif.) championship last year. The Atlantic League is also unaffiliated with any major league clubs, though it is generally considered to be at a high level. Former big league All-Stars like Carl Everett and Edgardo Alfonzo, who both played for the Ducks the past two seasons, said it’s comparable to Triple-A.

The Atlantic League hasn’t elevated coaches through the big league ranks. Kevin Baez parlayed his experience as Ducks third-base coach into a job with the Mets as a minor league instructor before returning to Long Island last season.

But Carter said he is focused on leading the Ducks out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004. A title this year would coincide with the Ducks 10th anniversary.

“I don’t put a lot of emphasis on a lot of rules and regulations,” Carter said. “I ask for three things: be on time, play the game hard and have respect for one another and the organization.

“There won’t be any embarrassing things that occur because then we’re going to have a problem. That’s all I expect of players. Once I see that, they won’t play. We should be honored to wear this uniform.”

Ducks principal owner Frank Boulton said Carter, 54, won’t be choosing a new coaching staff. Baez will still be the third-base coach and co-owner Buddy Harrelson will handle the first-base coaching duties for home games. Dave LaPoint, who served as manager the past two seasons, will be the pitching coach; the same job he handled for the team’s championship run in 2004.

LaPoint will also maintain his involvement in front office decisions. Boulton said LaPoint will be the franchise’s vice president of baseball operations.

“He’ll be the point person on putting our club together,” Boulton said. “We’re going to have pretty much a new club next year. We’re bringing in a lot of fresh faces. Dave will be working year-round with us for procuring the players.”

Carter, a two-time All-Star game MVP and five-time Silver Slugger winner, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. The backstop of the Mets 1986 championship team earned two Manager of the Year honors coaching the Amazing’s system, leading his team to a Florida State League title in 2006.

Carter reunites with Harrelson, a coach on that 1986 team. The former Expos standout said he is looking forward to learning from Harrelson, who also served as a big league manager.

“He’s a great friend and being that he is a part owner and part of this team, I can feed off of him for his expertise,” Carter said. “Being a big leaguer manager and big league coach, I’m going to pick his brain.

“This league is a very competitive league, and that’s what I’m excited about because I’ll gain more experience and knowledge towards handling players who have played at the major league level. That will hopefully lead on to bigger and better things.”