So when former Mets pitcher Ed Lynch checked the lineup card on Aug. 11, 1985, and saw that Gary Carter wasn't catching, he reacted with a degree of alarm. Lynch was to pitch against the Cubs at Shea Stadium that afternoon, and Johnson had decided that Carter's tortured knees needed a break.
Ronn Reynolds was slated to catch instead, and all Lynch saw was a lineup without Carter and his 100-RBI bat. So he went to work immediately, trying to get an eventual Hall of Fame catcher to go to work, too. Lynch was in the middle of the best streak of his career, as he had won his preceding four starts and pitched complete games in two of them. He'd been Gooden-esque, lowering his ERA from 3.02 to 2.87, but he wanted to extend his run. He wanted Carter behind the plate.
Lynch shared this story in the summer of 2008.
"'Kid' was great for me," Lynch said. "We worked well together, and it didn't hurt to have his bat in the lineup. I just pleaded with him. So he gets up on those knees and walks into Davey's office and says he wants to catch. Kid could be persuasive. Ten minutes later, he's in the trainer's room getting his body worked on, getting ready to be my meal ticket."
Shea Stadium saw one of Carter's best performances as a Met that day, and Lynch was the happy beneficiary. Carter hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Lynch then allowed two runs in the third, but Carter broke the tie with his second home run in the bottom of the inning. It was Carter's first two-homer game with the Mets.
Lynch improved his record to 10-5 that day, pitching another complete game in the Mets' 6-2 victory, and developed a new level of appreciation for his catcher.
"Kid didn't have to play that day," Lynch said. "It was getting late in the season, and I'm sure he was gassed and his knees always were barkin', but he did it as a favor for me. You can't ask for more from a teammate.
"When he was going into the Hall of Fame, and people would ask me about him, I'd tell them that story. Kid was a great player for a lot of reasons, and that's one of them. He'd always do what he could to help his team -- or his teammate -- win."
Carter benefited too, of course. The runs he drove in for Lynch helped put his final RBI count for his first season with the Mets at 100.
"And there's a big difference between 96 and 100," Carter said on Oct. 4, when he reached 100. "Lynchie thanked me that day. I was happy to do it, but I thanked him, too."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.