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Sixty, Count Em, Sixty (Part II)

We continue along with our ranking of the most Metmorable home runs among the 6,000+ hit in team history with a look at #50-41.

For those who may have missed our first piece in this series, you can find it here:

We'll continue to rate them every Monday until we complete our list of 60. Your thoughts and feedback are welcomed in the comments section.

50- Robin Ventura, May 20, 1999 (#4,241, 4,245)

Let's talk Robin Ventura grand slams, and I'm referencing home runs, not singles. Ventura hit 18 grand slams in his major league career, including five for the Mets. A pair came on the same day, one in each end of a doubleheader against the Brewers.He became the first player ever to hit a grand slam in both ends of a doubleheader.

The common thread is that they both came on 3-2 pitches from lefties with two outs- the first in the first inning against Jim Abbott, the second in the fourth inning of the nightcap against Horacio Estrada. Newspaper accounts note that both were hit basically to the same spot.

Said Ventura afterwards: “Sometimes you get a little lucky.”

True Mets home run historians know...Hitting grand slams in each game of a doubleheader was nothing for Ventura, who hit two grand slams in one game for the White Sox in 1995.

49- David Wright, April 13, 2009 (# 5,920), Gary Sheffield, April 17, 2009 (#5,924), Omir Santos, May 23, 2009 (#5,943), David Wright, September 12, 2009 (#5,999)

I'm going to cheat here (a subtle reference to accusations regarding Sheffield's past) and lump the best of the 2009 home runs into one slot (it's my list...I can do that), because I feel it's a bit of a disservice to Msrs Wright and Santos to honor only Sheffield's 500th home run. That said, the latter did make for a pretty cool moment, mainly because of its significance to the game.

The Wright home run was the first in the new ballpark, and we should have known than that this was going to be an f-d up season when the Mets lost their Citi Field opener on a balk.

As my dad said to me after the Santos home run, which stunned the Red Sox and closer Jonathan Papelbon: “You're going to remember being at that one for a long time.”

Wright's homer to beat the Phillies made for a nice F-U moment, but given the way that our season has gone, and the Phillies season has gone, it was of little consequence otherwise.

True Mets home run historians know...The other two 500 home run club members to play for the Mets are Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

48- Frank Thomas, July 9, 1964 (#281)

The closest thing the Mets have to a moment out of The Natural was this walk-off pinch-hit home run by Frank Thomas. The Mets trailed the Cardinals by a run with two outs in the ninth at the time and Thomas had not batted in six weeks, having missed time with a glandular infection. He hit a two-run shot against Curt Simmons to give the Mets an improbable victory.
To illustrate the general feeling of pessimism of the time: Thomas was asked by reporters after the game if he thought the ball was a home run when it left the bat.

“I thought it would go foul, as usual,” Thomas said.

True Mets home run historians know...Frank Thomas had the longest hold on the Mets single-season home run record. He hit 34 home runs in 1962, and that mark wasn't surpassed until Dave Kingman hit 36 in 1975.

47- Rod Kanehl, July 6, 1962 (#70)

Rod Kanehl got 50,000 King Korn trading stamps for hitting the first grand slam in Mets history, a pinch-hit blast in a 10-3 rout of the Cardinals.

Trading stamps, for those as unfamiliar as I was, were used as an enticement for customers, based on how much money they would spend. You could then put the trading stamps into a book and redeem them for fun prizes. I hope he bought something nice.

True Mets home run historians know...The Mets first six grand slams were all hit in their home ballpark. They didn't hit a grand slam on the road until Joe Christopher against the Milwaukee Braves on June 26, 1964.

46- Todd Hundley, September 8, 1996 (#3,893)

Say what you will about the legitimacy of Todd Hundley's numbers, and though I won't say much, I'll honor it in this position. He's still the first Met to reach the 40 home run mark, which he did with a home run off Joe Borowski in a Mets win in Atlanta. His 41st, hit six days later against the Braves would set the bar for all other Mets that followed.

There's a nice story with this one, which I learned of thanks to reading newspaper accounts of the game. The home run ball was caught by a fan named Marty Wannemacher, a lifelong Mets fan, who was living in South Carolina. Wannemacher got to meet Hundley after the game and was able to present him with his record-breaking baseball.

True Mets home run historians know...The Mets all-time home run leaders, among those whose main position was catcher: Mike Piazza: 220, Todd Hundley 124, Gary Carter 89, John Stearns 46, Jerry Grote 35, Ramon Castro 33.

45- Bobby Bonilla, April 6, 1992 (#3,268, 3,269)

I cringe to include any home runs by Bobby Bonilla on this list (much like I cringed when the first face I saw when entering my hotel at the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh was Bobby Bo...I didn't say anything). But for what it was at the time, this was a pretty big deal- Gary Carter-esque in nature.

There were great expectations for this 1992 Mets team, and foolishly so, as it turned out. But for one day, we couldn't wipe the smile of Bonilla's face. His second of two homers, in the 10th inning against Cardinals closer Lee Smith, gave the Mets an Opening Day victory to remember in St. Louis.

True Mets home run historians know...Five Mets have had a multi-homer game on Opening Day: Robin Ventura (2001), Bobby Bonilla (1992), Darryl Strawberry(1988), Kevin McReynolds (1988) and Cleon Jones (1973).

44- Duke Snider. June 14, 1963 (#177)

Duke Snider's return to New York didn't get quite the fanfare that Willie Mays did, at least from what I understand, but it still made for a few nice moments for the twilight of Snider's career. This one, was a home run hit at Crosley Field in the first inning of a Mets win in Cincinnati, which made Snider the ninth member of the 400 home run club. That group numbers 45 strong today, though only one bears Edwin Charles Snider's nickname.

True Mets home run historians know...Duke Snider's 399th career home run was a 3-run walk-off home run to beat the Cardinals, 3-2 on June 7, 1963.

43- Mike Piazza, April 28, 1999 (#4,218)

There's no evidence to support that the momentum of a walk-off home run can carry a team through an extended period of time. But Mike Piazza's two-run, come-from-behind game-winning blast against Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was a major propellant for the 1999 Mets. The Padres had won 181 straight games when leading after eight innings. This home run would end that streak and start another.

It started a string of six straight wins, which improved the Mets record to 17-9 and allowed them to withstand the struggles that would follow for a time.

True Mets home run historians know...The first walk-off home run allowed by Trevor Hoffman was to the Mets Chris Jones, on May 31, 1995. The second was to Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza, on June 26, 1995. Piazza is the only player with two walk-off home runs against Hoffman.

42- Mike Piazza, June 17, 2001 (#4,641)

Mike Piazza never hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees. This one was as close as he came. The Mets entered the home eighth trailing 7-2, but staged a rally similar to the 10-run comeback against the Braves the year prior. This one netted only six runs instead of 10, but was capped in similar fashion, by a Mike Piazza home run, this one a two-run shot against Carlos Almanzar.

We thank Joe Torre as well for choosing not to try Mariano Rivera for a four-out save, as Rivera had earned saves in the first two games of this series.

True Mets home run historians know...Mike Piazza hit 78 go-ahead home runs in his Mets career. Four of those came against the Yankees. Piazza had 12 go-ahead home runs for the Mets against the Phillies, his most against any team by a good margin (the Giants and Braves rank second with 7).

41- Shawn Estes, June 15, 2002 (#4,772)

Winning is the best revenge. In the game in which all the attention was on whether Shawn Estes would retaliate against Roger Clemens' repeated issues with Mike Piazza, Estes got the last laugh, in the form of a home run against Clemens. His aim with his bat was better than his aim with his arm, as his attempt to plunk Clemens was rather pathetic.

I have to admit taking a little pleasure in making a few members of the media laugh. I was in the press box when the final pitching line was announced for Estes- 7 innings, no runs, 5 hits, 11 strikeouts, 1 walk.

“And no hit batsmen!” I said, loud enough for a decent-sized group to hear.

True Mets home run historians know...Estes, Mike Piazza and John Olerud are the three Mets to hit go-ahead home runs against Roger Clemens.


Unknown said…
Sensational! Thanks for picking out the lumps of meaningful power from this season o' crap and dumping them in one spot. They couldn't hit a home run if they tried fungoing a golf ball this year--by all means, blame the stadium, guys--but the Santos and Sheffield homers were dramatic enough back in a time when we thought this team might do something besides whine about injuries. Frank Thomas, Shawn Estes, and Todd Hundley in the same 10...congratulations, maestro.

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