HUNT: His card has to be worth more than two bucks.
The Mets will soon host the All-Star Game at Citi Field. However, on this date in 1964, Shea Stadium was home to its only All-Star Game, won 7-4 by the National League.
Second baseman Ron Hunt was the first Met to start an All-Star Game and went 1-for-3 with a single off the Angels’ Dean Chance.
Hunt played with the Mets from 1963-66, then went on to play with the Dodgers (1967), Giants (1968-70), Expos (1971-74) and Cardinals (also in 1974).
Hunt’s baseball legacy was summed up by this quote from him: “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball.’’
He had a knack for being hit by pitches, and was plunked 243 times in his career (he had 1,429 career base hits). Incredibly, he was hit 50 times in 1971 while with the Giants. He led the league in that category for seven straight seasons.
On this date in 1962, Rod Kanehl became the first Met to hit a grand slam homer in a 10-3 rout of the Cardinals in the Polo Grounds. Kanehl connected off Bobby Shantz.
KANEHL: A Casey favorite.
Kanehl played eight seasons in the minors with the Yankees and Reds organizations before getting his shot at age 28 with the Mets in 1962.
Kanehl became of favorite of Casey Stengel for his hustle and versatility, playing everywhere but pitcher and catcher. Reportedly, when Stengel died in 1975, Kanehl was the only former Met to attend the funeral.
Kanehl played in 340 games over three years and batted .241 with six homers and 47 RBI.
Kanehl died in Palm Springs, Calif., at 70, in 2004.
Dave Mlicki didn’t have a great major league career, going 66-80, but will forever be the answer to a trivia question as on this date in 1997, he threw a nine-hitter to beat the Yankees, 6-0, in the first interleague game.
MLICKI: Forever a trivia question answer.
The Mets and Yankees each had 37-30 records at the time Mlicki outdueled Andy Pettitte.
It definitely was one of those “can’t top this moments,’’ a major leaguer will have in his career.
“My World Series for me,’’ Mlicki once said. “One of my great memories. … I knew it was a big game when I did it and it’s amazing that it’s meant so much to so many people.’’
Mlicki was a non-descript Met then, hardly recognizable, and frequently tells the story of eating breakfast the next morning at a diner and hearing people talk of the game on not know he was sitting at the next table.
Born in Cleveland, Mlicki pitched for his hometown Indians (1992-93), the Mets (1995-98), Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-99), Detroit (1999-2001) and Houston 2001-02).
Mlicki failed to catch on with the Milwaukee Brewers in spring training of 2003 and retired.
MLICKI’s CAREER NUMBERS
Keith Hernandez wasn’t much of a home run hitter, but on this date in 1987, he went deep twice as the Mets pummeled the Chicago Cubs, 13-2, at Wrigley Field.
HERNANDEZ: So smooooth.
The game also featured four hits each from Gary Carter and Kevin McReynolds. Hernandez, Tim Teufel and Rafael Santana drove in three runs apiece, and Dwight Gooden pitched eight innings to earn the victory.
I always liked watching Hernandez play. Whenever I watched the Met from that era, Hernandez was always the guys I’d want at the plate when a clutch hit was needed. Darryl Strawberry was always feared for his power, but Hernandez was the one with the game on the line.
One question I’ll ask Hernandez when I see him next is whether he could have been a home run hitter if he tried to hit for more power. Wade Boggs always said he would hit more homers if that was his mindset, and I believe the same the same would have applied with Hernandez.
Defensively, he was superb, and along with Don Mattingly, New York was blessed to have two premier first basemen during the 1980s.
Hernandez was so smooth at the 3-6-3 double play, and, of course, making the throw to third off a bunt. Nobody made that play better than Hernandez.
I’d be lying if I said reporters didn’t have their favorite athletes. One of mine was Todd Zeile, whom I covered when he was with the Yankees. When Zeile retired following the 2004 season, he did so with the distinction of hitting at least one homer for each of the 11 teams he played for during his career. He also homered in his final at-bat, Oct. 3, as a Met. However, on this day in 2000, Zeile homered twice, including a grand slam, as the Mets beat St. Louis, 12-8.
NOTE: Going away for the weekend for friend’s wedding. Will take laptop with me, but don’t know about Internet. Will try to blog if I can. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.