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The Braves could have had Gary Carter, but they said no

Bill Shanks shares some interesting information from an old newspaper that might interest Braves fans from the mid-1980s.

In doing some research on a piece I’m putting together, I found some interesting information from an article, an analysis really, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This is from Sunday, April 6, 1986. If you were a Braves fan or a baseball fan then, this will be interesting to you. If not, well, this content may not interest you.

The analysis was written by Chris Mortensen. Yes, that Chris Mortensen of ESPN. He covered the Braves for the AJC back in the day. Mort was asking the question, “What went wrong in ’85?”

Quick history lesson: the Braves had fired Joe Torre after the 1984 season and replaced him with Eddie Haas, an organizational man who failed miserably with a team that had added Bruce Sutter as a free agent going into the 1985 season. Haas was fired in mid-August and replaced by bench coach Bobby Wine.

In the article, Mortensen defends Haas, writing the front office “hardly lifted a finger to strengthen the team.”

Well, first of all, Torre might contend in hindsight that he would have loved to have had Sutter on one of his three Braves teams. That was the biggest acquisition the Braves had made in years. But Sutter had a bad shoulder and the Braves were killed by other injuries, particularly on the pitching staff.

But in Mortensen’s piece he wrote about how the front office should have helped Haas more than it did, and this is what caught my eye when I found this old newspaper over the weekend.

“No better example can be told than what happened at the December winter meetings following Haas’ appointment as manager. The Montreal Expos gave the Braves the first shot at catcher Gary Carter. The brass discussed it, decided the Expos wanted too much, and failed to negotiate a lesser package of players. They even failed to notify (Ted) Turner, looking to juice his declining cable TV ratings, about the Carter offer.

“As it developed, the players the Expos wanted included shortstop Rafael Ramirez, pitchers Steve Bedrosian and Craig McMurtry and outfielder Brad Komminsk, but they would have settled for outfielder Milt Thompson instead of Komminsk. The Expos accepted less from the Mets, another cable TV team.

“Bedrosian and Thompson have since been dealt to Philadelphia for catcher Ozzie Virgil. Ramirez is being pushed at shortstop by Andres Thomas. McMurtry is a huge question mark. Komminsk’s shining promise has been tarnished.

“Oh, and yes, the Braves went ahead and traded right-handed pitcher Brian Fisher to the New York Yankees for catcher Rick Cerone.”

Carter, who was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 and died almost four years ago at the young age of 57, went on to have tremendous seasons for the Mets. He helped them win the World Series in 1986. There’s no doubt his skills deteriorated as his Mets’ career ended, but he still had three awesome seasons left after the trade to New York.

Can you imagine what Carter would have done in a lineup with Dale Murphy and Bob Horner in the mid-1980s for the Braves? Murphy and Horner were two of the best power hitters in baseball, and they would have been joined by the best catcher in the game at the time.

That was a monumental mistake by John Mullen, who frankly was not a good general manager at all for the Braves.

It was just an interesting story I thought I’d share. The Braves did not have a very aggressive front office 30 years ago. I’m thankful that times have changed and the current regime would never pass on such an offer to acquire a fantastic player like Carter was back then.

The trades that are made are always interesting to evaluate, but what about the ones that are proposed and not made? Those can be interesting, as well.


Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and email him at


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