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Showing posts from August 7, 2005

This'll Make You Feel Better

The Dodgers put the Mets to bed at a rather late hour on Friday night/Saturday morning. It might be of consolation to weary-eyed Mets fans today to know that the Mets have given the Dodgers their fair share of sleepless nights.

Lets take August 1 and 3, 1977, shall we? Sure, Los Angeles was well ahead in the NL West and the Mets were a hopeless last-place team, but the games fit our purpose of today's entry anyway.

That August 1 game was one of those that the team that bats last was destined to win. Even facing future Hall of Famer Don Sutton and company, the Mets were undaunted by deficits of 1-0, 3-1, 6-3, and 7-6. Steve Henderson's two-run home run in the sixth inning evened things at six and ended Sutton's night, and when the Dodgers subsequently left the bases loaded in the seventh, there must have been a feeling in the air that good things were going to happen for the Mets this day.

This one went extra frames and the Dodgers pulled ahead in the 11th inning on a home run…

Hick with the Stick

Jim Hickman is the answer to about a million good trivia questions, Mets related and otherwise. For example:

Q: Who was the first Mets player to hit for the cycle?

Jim Hickman, August 7, 1963

Q: Who hit the last home run at the Polo Grounds?

Jim Hickman, September 18, 1963

Q: Who was the first Mets player to hit 3 HR in a game?

Jim Hickman, September 3, 1965

Q: Who had the winning walk-off hit in the 1970 All-Star Game, the one most remembered for Pete Rose knocking over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run?

Jim Hickman

and then there's this one...

Q: Whose walk-off grand slam, one that broke Roger Craig's 18-game losing streak, did this blogger forget to enter into his walk-off database, thus throwing all his data out of whack?

Jim Hickman, of course, August 9, 1963.

I'd tell you more, but I'm in the midst of an elusive game of phone tag with Mr. Hickman, who still works in professional baseball, and I don't want to spoil the fun of any future posts.

True Methicks know..…

Walk-off King

Someone mentioned autographs in the comments section regarding the Neil Allen posts, and how Allen was the first autograph he ever got.

My first baseball autograph was Dave Kingman. If I remember right, the circumstances were such that they used to hold baseball card shows at Shea Stadium. This was sometime during the spring/summer of 1982/83 and to that point, my collection of baseball cards consisted primarily of packs that my dad used to bring home from his candy store. But apparently the decision was made that we would take up card collecting as a more serious hobby.

At this Shea show, each attendee had the chance to get a ticket to get an autograph of a current Met. Ours happened to be for Dave Kingman.

Kingman had two stints as a Met and both were rather unpleasant. Yes, he was a giant, who could hit the ball higher and farther than anyone else in the majors, but the price paid for that was an embarassingly low batting average and a lot of strikeouts. Kingman played parts of six se…

Neil's Deal

Continuing along with the Neil Allen-lovefest, there's a good story behind his first major-league victory.

It occurred on May 20, 1979, against the St. Louis Cardinals in a season so pathetic that the highlight video was called "Fireworks" (I'm told by fellow bloggers that this was the first year the Mets had Fireworks Night) and the team had to win its final six games to avoid a 100-loss season. It was not the type of game you'd expect them to win, but then you remember, these are the Mets.

The Mets only beat the Cardinals once in nine meetings at Shea that season, and for all intents, they should have gone 0-for-9. What started as a topsy turvy matchup pitting Mets ace Craig Swan against Bob Sykes (later traded for Willie McGee) turned into what appeared to be a Cardinals extra-inning win, after St. Louis scored three times in the top of the 10th to go ahead, 7-4. Allen stranded a pair of baserunners in relief of Dale Murray, who yielded all three runs.

The Cardin…

A Favorite of Mine

I was on the No. 7 train coming back from Flushing a couple weeks ago and my uncle Richard told the story of how his son, my cousin Michael, cried the day that the Mets traded Todd Zeile in January, 2002.

I don't remember how I reacted the day that my favorite Met was dealt, and I don't have any recollection of why I picked this player as my favorite, but I do have a neat story to tell about him, and I can tie it in to walk-offs, if you'll indulge.

Neil Allen (middle name Patrick) was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on January 24, 1958. That part I know by heart, as his birthday was a week before mine (the January 24, part, not 1958). He was drafted in the 11th round in 1976, made his Mets debut in 1979 as a starter but was moved to the bullpen shortly after recall. His chronology of pictures his Topps cards are rather oddly sequenced. His 1980 rookie card shows him in mid-delivery, ball in hand. The 1981 card has him just about to plant his front leg and the back reveals he &q…

Out of the Harkness

We had a walk-off grand slam on Sunday in major-league baseball, off the unlikely bat of Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein, helping the Cardinals beat the Braves en route to their inevitable NL Central title.

A walk-off grand slam is a quasi-rare occurrence. There were four in the majors last season, and in the typical year, you'll see about that many, though Eckstein's was the first of 2005. A walk-off slam is a lot of fun. Except when you realize that you forgot to list one in your database. As I learned on Sunday, the Mets have had at least 327 walk-off wins, not the previously referenced 326. But that's okay. I never proclaimed to have perfect maintenance of my walk-off list, and I'm glad I found a flaw. It makes for a good story anyway, one that we'll wait until the anniversary of the moment to tell, since that comes up this week.

Instead, today we'll tell the tale of the first walk-off grand slam in Mets history, which works out well, since I have a clip o…