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Mets Top 100 Home Runs: From No. 26 (Johnny Lewis) to No. 30 (Willie Mays)

In 2009, I did a project for my website, Mets Walk-Offs and Other Minutiae, celebrating the best home runs in Mets history. I selected the top 60 regular season home runs and the top 15 postseason home runs. The reason I picked 60 was because it represented the top 1% of home runs in Mets history (and 15 just felt right for postseason).

This was fun to do, but it was imperfect. I had one egregious omission. I tended to favor oddities.

It’s time to give that project an update. And why not do it as a top 100?

The Mets have hit 7,671 regular season home runs. The top 80 represent about the top 1%. And the top 20 postseason home runs get us to an even 100 to celebrate.

Come along for the ride. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the reminiscing. Hopefully you’ll find it Amazin’. 

30. Willie Mays returns … to San Francisco 
(July 21, 1972 vs Giants)
It’s well known that Willie Mays homered in his first game with the Mets in New York against the Giants. But did you know that he also homered against the Giants in his first game back in San Francisco against the Giants?

This one came in the fifth inning, a 2-run shot against Jim Barr that turned a 1-0 lead into a 3-0 edge. The Mets went on to win, 3-1. Mays appears to have said little after the game other than that he enjoyed the moment but preferred the home run he hit against the Giants in New York. But the Giants’ folks had some good quotes.

“He hit the hell out of it,” said Giants manager Charlie Fox of the 400-foot clout.

Said Bobby Bonds: “I couldn’t cheer for him because he plays for the other team. But inside, I felt happy for him.”

My favorite stat: Willie Mays holds the record for most home runs in a season at Candlestick Park with 28 in 1962. That included 8 against the Mets, his most versus any team. Mays’ walk-off home run against Jay Hook on May 26, 1962, was the first walk-off homer against the Mets. 

29. Edgardo Alfonzo has the greatest game ever 
(August 30, 1999 vs Astros)
The greatest performance by a Mets hitter in a baseball game came in this one in Houston. It was not by Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez or David Wright, but rather by the thinking fan’s favorite Met, Edgardo Alfonzo.

Alfonzo’s basic numbers do a pretty good job of articulating just how good he was, but we should also remember that (despite clutch hitting not existing), he was an outstanding hitter in high-leverage situations. His career batting average of .318 and slugging percentage of .466 in those instances were 42 points and 52 points above his numbers in all other instances.

Admittedly those numbers are irrelevant to what was the 17-1 Mets victory. What’s relevant is what Alfonzo did. He batted six times, he got a hit six times, he scored six times. Three of those scores came on home runs in a ballpark that traditionally was extraordinarily challenging for most hitters.

“Tonight, I just started having a good time and enjoying every at-bat,” Alfonzo said.

That’s good to know. We enjoyed his at-bats so much. It’s good that he was enjoying them too.

My favorite stat: Edgardo Alfonzo was the fourth player to have a six-hit, three-homer game since 1904, the first year for which Baseball-Reference has box score data. The other three were by Ty Cobb (1925 Tigers), Jimmie Foxx (1932 Athletics), and Walker Cooper (1949 Reds). Two players have done it since: Shawn Green (2002 Dodgers – 4 HR) and Anthony Rendon (2017 Nationals against the Mets).

28. Marlon Anderson and Cliff Floyd 
(June 11, 2005 vs Angels)
If we ranked favorite regular season home runs of my baseball-watching lifetime, these two are near the top (probably higher than 28th).

Marlon Anderson’s home run is wonderful for its unlikely nature. With the Mets trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning and Francisco Rodriguez up, Anderson hit the ball just right, a line drive to right center, right where grass meets warning track.

Steve Finley, who has a history of “just-miss” on notable Mets home runs, came within a smidge of making a sensational backhand catch, worthy of a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder. But not only did he miss the ball, the momentum of his leg resulted in the ball being kicked back and towards the right field line. By the time he retrieved it, Anderson had turned on the jets. The play came down to a race between Anderson’s slide and Bengie Molina’s lunge after catching the ball at the edge of the left-handed batters box. Anderson was safe, much to Molina’s dismay.

Floyd’s home run feels a little more likely, but it is more a testament to perseverance than anything else. It capped a nine-pitch at-bat (including a foul ball home run on which I yelled “That’s a win!) and a rally from a run down in the 10th inning. The deficit came about in part due to an error by Doug Mientkiewicz in the top of the inning. Mientkiewicz hung a sign in Floyd’s locker – “I owe you whatever you want” it read.

Mets fans were probably willing to contribute to whatever Floyd’s prize turned out to be.   

My favorite stat: The Mets have hit five extra-inning walk-off home runs that came when the team was trailing. They’ve been hit by Tim Harkness (1963 vs Cubs), Joel Youngblood (1980 vs Pirates), Darryl Strawberry (1988 vs Reds), Cliff Floyd (2005 vs Angels), and Dominic Smith (2019 vs Braves).

27. A long losing streak comes to an end 
(August 9, 1963 vs Cubs)

The AP story on this game is delightful.

“A combination of knitting, hitting, and hexing did the job for Roger Craig.

The Mets beat the Cubs 7-3 on a walk-off grand slam by Jim Hickman off the left field scoreboard on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (this represented the hitting, albeit a very cheap home run in a ballpark that surrendered many). The loss snapped Roger Craig’s 18-game losing streak (he was the Anthony Young of his time).

The knitting was done by Craig’s wife in the stands at the Polo Grounds. The hexing was Casey Stengel putting the whammy on pitcher Lindy McDaniel as he prepared to make his final pitch.

Craig was more than a little excited when he saw the ball clear the fence. He had to be restrained (by the home plate ump!) from getting to Hickman before he fully completed his tour of the bases.

“I just watched to be sure he touched (home plate),” Craig said afterwards (as found in the Daily News). “I just wanted to be sure he touched it. I would have pulled him across or tackled him.

My favorite stat: Roger Craig finished the season with a 5-22 record. That win-loss record has never been duplicated in MLB history. One pitcher, Asa Brainard, had a 5-22 record for Baltimore of the National Association in 1874. The National Association was a predecessor to the official Major League Baseball.

26. No No-No says Johnny Lewis 
(June 14, 1965 vs Reds)
When we talk about the greatest games ever pitched in defeat, what Jim Maloney did to (admittedly a weak foe) the Mets belongs on the list. Maloney pitched the first 10 innings without allowing a hit and 17 strikeouts.

He’d get the 18th strikeout in the 11th inning, but that came after Johnny Lewis hit a middle-away fastball just above the yellow line marking the top of the center field fence for a go-ahead home run. It was a heck of a way for the Mets to end a 10-game losing streak.

“I can’t help but feel good,” Lewis said. “I have never seen a man throw so hard to me”

“It’s a damn shame,” Maloney said afterwards. “It’s by far the best I’ve ever pitched.”

My favorite stat: Only 2 pitchers are known to have taken a loss in a game in which they struck out at least 18 batters and allowed 1 run. They were Jim Maloney and Nolan Ryan (1974 for the Angels against the Tigers – he struck out 19 in 11 innings in a 1-0 loss to the Tigers)

Props to Maloney who threw a 10-inning no-hitter against the Cubs two months later. In that game he struck out “only” 12 (and walked 10!)

The rest of the list ...

No. 76 to 80 can be found here
No. 71 to 75 can be found here 
No. 66 to 70 can be found here 
No. 61 to 65 can be found here
No. 56 to 60 can be found here
No. 51 to 55 can be found here
No. 46 to 50 can be found here
No. 41 to 45 can be found here 
No. 36 to 40 can be found here 
No. 31 to 35 can be found here


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