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Sherry, Can You Come Out Tonight?

I'm waiting to hear back from a couple former Mets that I've tried to contact, so I'm basically in stall mode today. While I'm biding my time, I figured perhaps I should answer a question or two that I had when I began this project. Today, we'll go with "Who was the worst Mets player to ever get a walk-off hit?"

Well, if you've read me previously, you know I'm not going to say "Ross Jones," so I've made the qualifier such that he isn't in the mix. If you look at it from a statistical perspective, the worst single-season batting averge by a Mets position player, with a minimum 0f 100 plate appearances, is .136, by catcher Norm Sherry in 1963. That's convenient, because we just passed the anniversary of Norm Sherry's moment in Mets walk-off history.

The 1963 Mets were almost as bad as their predecessors from the season before, only not quite as entertaining. On July 16, they were matched up with a squad of equal mediocrity (mediocreness?) in the Houston Colts (soon to be Astros). The difference is that the Colts had a couple of young, soon-to-be quite talented players, while the Mets, with the exceptions of Ron Hunt and Ed Kranepool, featured a squad whose players probably should have been stored away in a dusty basement.

Home runs by Joe Hicks and Jim Hickman helped the Mets to a 3-0 lead through six innings, but the Polo Grounds 9 coughed it up, allowing single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth to give us a tie score going to the last of the ninth.

Rusty Staub has plenty of pleasant Mets memories, but this day had a rather unpleasant one from his days playing against the Mets. Rod Kanehl led off with an infield single. With Al Moran up, 19-year-old Staub, playing out of position at first base instead of his normal right field, charged expecting a bunt, but watched in horror as pitcher Hal Woodeshick tossed to first base. The ball rolled towards the stands and by the time it was retrieved, Kanehl was on third base. Based on newspaper accounts, Woodeshick proceeded to give Staub a piece of his mind. Moran wound up walking to put runners on the corners.

Casey Stengel, apparently with a sense of humor, sent up Sherry (who was celebrating his 32nd birthday) to bat for pitcher Galen Cisco. Sherry's .118 batting average at the time was far superior to Cisco's .048. Sherry hit a bouncer to shortstop that went over the head of another young future star, shortstop Jimmy Wynn (he played only 21 games at short in his MLB career) and Kanehl trotted home with the winning run.

Norm Sherry holds multiple other claims to fame, though none of them really have much relevance to the Mets (he only had 20 hits with them). He and his brother, pitcher Larry Sherry formed a brother-brother battery while with the Dodgers (Norm hit a game-winning homer in a game won by his brother). Norm is also credited with helping fix the flaws that plagued Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax early in his career. Just goes to show that the stats don't always tell the whole story.

True Metniacs know...The lowest batting average by a Mets position player with a minimum of 200 plate appearances in a season is .172 (Al Weis, 1968). That's also the mark if you up it to 300 plate appearances. At 400 and 500, the magic number is .204 (Dave Kingman, 1982).


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