Jun 28

Today in Mets’ History: Casey says good-bye.

Did you know Casey Stengel was the first player to hit a World Series home run at Yankee Stadium?

And, on this date in 1975, he made his final appearance at Shea Stadium at an Old Timers Game. He died several months later.

STENGEL: An original.

 

 

Charles Dillon Stengel, nicknamed Casey, which came from the initials of his hometown of Kansas City, Mo., was not only the first manager of the Mets, but a baseball original, an icon.

Stengel was an average, but not spectacular player for the Brooklyn Dodgers – starting his career in 1912, the year the Titanic sunk – Pirates, Phillies, Giants and Boston Braves.

Of his career as a player, Stengel said: “I had many years that I was not so successful as a ballplayer, as it is a game of skill.’’

Stengel carved his niche as a Hall of Famer managing the Dodgers, Boston Braves, Yankees, and, of course, the Mets, where he became a folk hero.

Stengel won ten pennants and seven World Series titles for the Yankees, including a record five straight from 1949-53. He was fired after the 1960 World Series, in which the Yankees lost to Pittsburgh in seven games. Stengel insisted it was age related after turning 70, and said, “I’ll never make that mistake again.’’

Stengel was talked of retirement to manage the expansion Mets in 1962, and when he was hired, said: “It’s a great honor to be joining the Knickerbockers.’’

The Mets finished last in his four years with them.

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Jun 22

Today in Mets’ History: Franco climbs save list.

John Franco has always been one of the more popular Mets. You can catch him on SNY from time to time.

FRANCO: Hall worthy?

On this date in 1994, Franco passed Dave Righetti for the most saves by a lefthander with 253 in a 5-2 victory at Atlanta.

Franco finished with 424 saves, an average of 26 per season playing for the Reds, Mets an Astros. He had eight seasons of 30 or more saves – five of them with the Mets – with a career best 39 with Cincinnati in 1988.

That season was one of three times in which he led the National League in saves.

Franco is fourth on the career list behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith, but has received little consideration for the Hall of Fame, largely because he has one save in 15 postseason appearances.

Franco has always been a straight shooter, which accounts for much of his popularity among Mets fans.

During the summer of 2009 when the Mets were hit hard by injuries and struggling, Franco wanted to hear none of the excuses and pointed in a different direction.

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Jun 21

Examining potential Beltran trade.

BELTRAN: Trade deadline approaching.

The question doesn’t appear to be “if,’’ but “when,’’ the Mets will deal outfielder Carlos Beltran.

The physical questions that followed him into the season have seemingly been answered in the positive, which means the Mets don’t have to think solely about dealing with the American League, although there are several interesting possibilities, including Boston, Chicago and Detroit.

The Red Sox could have inside leverage because executive Allard Baird – who interviewed for the Mets’ GM job – was the general manager at Kansas City when Beltran played there. That could help in Beltran waiving his no-trade clause.

In the National League, San Francisco needs offense, as does St. Louis with Albert Pujols injured and out from four to six weeks. Lance Berkman could move to first base to replace Pujols and make room for Beltran in right field.

To move Beltran, the Mets figure to eat a portion of his $18.5 million contract. How much they digest could make it substantially easier to move him. Unless they decide to make a serious run at a wild card – which would have to mean adding players instead of subtracting them – it does the Mets no good to keep Beltran because they would not receive compensatory draft picks as he is not arbitration eligible.

As badly as the Mets want to save salary and add prospects, don’t look for a crosstown move to the Yankees for two reasons, 1) the Yankees’ priority is pitching, and 2) there should be no inclination on the Mets’ part to aid the Yankees.

Should GM Sandy Alderson trade him to the Yankees, it would clearly indicate he doesn’t have a grasp on the lay of the land in New York. The Mets are struggling, both on the field and financially, and the last thing they need is to trade a key player that could put the Yankees over the top.

A trading of Beltran would raise a white flag of sorts, but don’t trade him to a prime antagonist.


 

Jun 10

Today in Mets History: Keith hammers Cubs.

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.

BOX SCORE

 

Jun 07

Today in Mets History: Remembering the Duke.

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