Skip to main content

Let's Hear It For Mr. D'Agostino

I believe it was in the winter of 1982, that for my seventh birthday, my dad gave me two books. One was called "Baseball's 100," and its author, Maury Allen, ranked the best players in baseball history to that point. The other was "This Date in New York Mets History" by Dennis D'Agostino.

If you wanted to measure the impact that "This Date in New York Mets History" had on me, the closest thing I could equate it to would be that which L Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" had on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (except I'm not jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey's sofa anytime soon).

"This Date in Mets History" is 222 pages long and I have read every word on every page, probably 222 times. It was there that I learned such valuable lessons like that I share a birthday with Bob Apodaca (January 31), that Bill Sudakis was known to his Metsmates as "Suds," that one series sweep by the Phillies in 1980 was known as "The Lost Weekend" and that trading Tom Seaver to the Reds was, at least when the book was published, one of the best and worst trades in Mets history. I literally devoured this book. The closest descriptive word I have for it is "gross." It is dog-eared, torn up, and missing the cover page, but that is part of its charm.

It is also from this book that I greatly increased my vocabulary. I picked up words such as "riotous" (used to describe a series between the Mets and Expos that featured a lot of beanball), "fortitude" (used to explain the choice of the name change of the Mets mascot from "Arthur" to "Mettle" and "squander" (as in, "The Mets squandered a four-run lead"). No wonder I did so well in school.

On page 42, there is an entry for June 4, 1969, and that is our walk-off focus for today. The Mets and Dodgers (yes, the Dodgers again) played an extra-inning classic that day, featuring a great pitchers duel between Bill Singer and Mets rookie Jack DiLauro. The two teams matched zeroes as Singer flirted with a perfect game for six innings and DiLauro escaped a couple of early jams. The contest went into extra-innings and both teams went to their bullpens.

In the top of the 15th, the Dodgers threatened, putting runners at the corners with one out. Wille Davis was the hitter and he hit a grounder off pitcher Ron Taylor that caromed towards second base. Al Weis charged the ball, made a barehand play and threw home just in time for catcher Jerry Grote to get incoming baserunner Billy Grabarkewitz at home plate. On the Mets highlight album that season, "Miracle Mets," that moment is re-created by Bob Murphy, who states "Oh what a play by Al Weis! I've never seen a better one by an infielder." (as a side note, I'm guessing that the real play took about 3 seconds to unfold. The cheesy re-created version takes about 30 seconds, allowing Murph to provide every detail).

The Mets stole the game in the bottom of the 15th, when with one out, Tommie Agee scored all the way from first when Davis misplayed Wayne Garrett's single to center. That gave the Mets a sweep of the Dodgers and matched a team record with their seventh straight win.

That's basically exactly how D'Agostino described it, with one exception. For emphasis regarding Weis's play, he writes "True Metophiles will recall..." It is from there that I got the inspiration for the use of trivia (IE: "True Metegists know...") at the end of each of these essays.

I got to meet D'Agostino about 10 years ago, when I was interning for MSG Network, and he was working in public relations for the Knicks (about whom he's produced a great book, "Garden Glory"), and I told him how much influence the book had on my life. He shared with me a secret. "This Date..." sold so few copies, that it was part of the reason that the publishing company, Stein and Day, went out of business. He also signed the copy of my book, a little while after I let him know that I planned to write the sequel. As a young writer, he once told Mets book author, Leonard Koppett, the same thing.

D'Agostino's inscription reads: "Mark- Thanks so much for keeping the faith. But you really do need to get a life..."

True Metinetics know...Two of the players rated in Maury Allen's book "Baseball's 100," had walk-off hits for the Mets. They are No. 72, George Foster (remember, this book was published in 1981) and No. 1, Willie Mays.


Richard Simon said…
I guess his dad knew what kind of gifts to get him.


His Dad :):):)
TheCzar said…
Thanks for letting us know where you learned "riotous"...but where did you pick up "scrum"???
Ezra said…
You "literally devoured this book"? Lotsa fiber, I suppose!

Your turn of phrase has been reported to the appropriate authorities.

Apart from my linguistic nitpicks--looove the blog!
metswalkoffs said…

If you saw what the book looked like, you'd understand. The book looks like I chomped on it a little bit. I think I used the term appropriately :)

Popular posts from this blog

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls