It’s always interesting to look back at some of the old Mets. Some great players made a cameo in New York at the end of their careers.
SNIDER; One last moment in the Polo Grounds.
For example, Duke Snider, who hit a three-run homer on this date in 1962 off Diomedes Olivio in the ninth inning to give the Mets a 3-2 victory over St. Louis in the Polo Grounds. It wasn’t quite the Dodgers and Giants in the 1950’s, but for one day there was a Golden Age flashback in New York.
Interesting story about when Snider first joined the Mets. Charlie Neal had No. 4, but wouldn’t give it up to Snider. Snider eventually got the number when Neal was traded.
Snider was popular with Mets’ fans who still held an emotional connection to the Dodgers – no doubt, Fred Wilpon fell into this category. Of course, what makes the Mets unique is their roots are found in two other teams, which has caused the franchise to constantly seek its own identity.
That hasn’t always been easy, and the team took considerable heat in the opening of Citi Field, which featured the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and had little acknowledgement of the Mets’ own history.
The following season, in what really was an ironic and sad turn, Snider was traded to the Giants and retired after that year.
SNIDER’S CAREER NUMBERS
One of David Einhorn’s childhood heroes, Dave Kingman, has a monster game on this day in 1976.
KINGMAN: All or nothing.
The all-or-nothing Kingman hits three homers and drives in eight runs to back Tom Seaver as the Mets rout the Dodgers, 11-0, in Los Angeles.
Once a pitcher at USC, Seaver’s alma-mater, finished with a career .236 batting average, but with 442 homers with seven teams, including two stints with the Mets.
In 16 seasons, Kingman had 1,575 hits (131 a year average) and 1,816 strikeouts (152). The tradeoff was 37 homers and 101 RBI.
KINGMAN’S CAREER STATS
Kingman is one of those guys who would have severely tested the Baseball Writers Association of America had he hit 500 homers, once considered automatic entry into the Hall of Fame. Kingman certainly had the power, but contributed little else as a player.
Kingman was not considered one of baseball’s greatest citizens. While with Oakland, in protest to women sportswriters, he sent a live rat to Susan Fornoff, a columnist for the Sacramento Bee.
Not even chemistry would make Todd Hundley the player he was supposed to be. On this date in 1996, Hundley homered from both sides of the plate and drove in a career-high seven runs in a 14-5 victory at San Francisco.
HUNDLEY: Enjoyed career day on this date.
Hundley would hit 41 homers that season, but never again had a year that approached those numbers. According to the Mitchell Report, Hundley started using steroids that season after never hitting more than 16 prior to that year.
Hundley, the son of former major league catcher Randy Hundley, hit 124 homers in nine seasons with the Mets, and after stints with the Dodgers and Cubs, finished with 202 career homers when he retired after the 2003 season.
Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and Hundley feuded after the manager suggested his catcher needed more sleep, in reference to his late-night party image.
After Mike Piazza was acquired in May of 1998, it was apparent Hundley was done with the Mets and was traded to the Dodgers after that season.
Four years after his retirement, Hundley was named in the Mitchell Report along with another Mets catcher, Paul Lo Duca, for using performance enhancing drugs.
BASEBALL STEROID ERA
When he first broke into the big leagues, they used to say of Darryl Strawberry he had the swing of Ted Williams. However, he never had the plate discipline of Williams, and as great as his numbers were, there was always the belief he could do more.
Strawberry’s career high in homers was 39, accomplished twice. Perhaps the most memorable homer in his career was the 440-foot drive off the scoreboard clock in St. Louis in 1985.
STRAWBERRY: What a sweet swing.
That proved to be overstated, but Strawberry was one of those rare players who grabbed and held your attention whenever he came to the plate. How far would this one go? Would he be punched out?
On this date in 1983, Strawberry hit the first of 335 homers in a career marred by drug use and suspension. Strawberry averaged 34 homers and 102 per 162-game stretch.
In a career oddity, Strawberry played for all the teams with New York roots: the Mets, Dodgers, Giants and Yankees.
Strawberry played out the last years of his career with drug problems and will be remembered as a wasted talent. Had he stayed clean, there’s no telling what his numbers might have been.
Considering how it began, you have to be satisfied with the Mets’ six-game homestand against the Giants and Dodgers. A split was about as good as could be expected, and that’s what the Mets got.
Perhaps the most significant development coming out of the homestand was Chris Young’s second appointment to the disabled list. He was a gamble signing to begin with, so this really can’t be looked at as a surprise. The Mets are just fortunate that they’ve received good pitching from Dillon Gee.
The Mets already said Young won’t be activated when he’s eligible to come off the disabled and this makes me wonder if we’ll ever see him again. With his injury history, it is a legitimate question.
No, Young wasn’t ever going to be a stud starter in the Mets’ rotation, but as a gamble you take what you can get and they got 24 innings.