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Name Dropping

I feel a little like Mulva/Gipple/Bovary/Dolores from Seinfeld right about now, but am greatly appreciative of Gary Cohen's on-air mention on Tuesday night. Yes, he erred ever so slightly on the blog name, but judging from the reaction of friends and family, it was a pretty thrilling mention nonetheless.

Speaking of forgotten names, I've got a neat one from past Metsdom for you: Hal Reniff. Remember him? Probably not. He lasted two months with the Mets in 1967 and though the overall numbers aren't particularly memorable, his pitching performance in his first three weeks is unrivaled in team history.

Reniff was claimed off waivers by the Mets from the Yankees on June 28 of that season. He toiled for the Bronx Bombers for parts of seven seasons and closed for them regularly in 1963, before the save was considered fashionable or statistical. He was an average pitcher for the most part, and apparently in 1967, when mediocrity reigned in the Bronx, he was deemed no longer useful.

Reniff's value to the Mets was immediate and significant. On July 1 he debuted with three scoreless innings, allowing the Mets to rally and beat the eventual world champion Cardinals, 6-4.

The next day was Reniff's 29th birthday and his best present came gift-wrapped in the form of a rather bizarre victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Redbirds.

We'll skip ahead to avoid boring you with the details, other than to say that the Mets had rallied from a 4-2 seventh inning deficit to tie by the ninth inning, in which Reniff entered with two outs and two on, asked to get future St. Louis broadcaster Mike Shannon out. Reniff threw a wild pitch, advancing both runners into scoring position, but recovered to fan Shannon and send the game tied into the last of the ninth.

With one out, Bud Harrelson started the winning rally with a single. With Tommy Reynolds up, Harrelson tried to steal second. He did so successfully and advanced to third when the throw from the catcher went into centerfield. The Mets had some of their best hitters upcoming, so the Cardinals elected to have Nelson Briles continue pitching to Reynolds. The count went to 3-1 and the next pitch produced a rather unusual combination. It was low and away, too far away for the catcher to handle. The ball rolled away and Harrelson raced to the plate. Hal Reniff was a winner, thanks to a walk-off walk/wild pitch, the only one of its kind (that I've documented) in Mets history.

As for Reniff, his Metroduction set the standard for the likes of Duaner Sanchez. In his next nine outings (giving him a total of 11), Reniff was not charged with a run (he allowed one inherited baserunner to score). His scoreless stint reached 21 innings, the longest by any pitcher to begin his Mets career. Unfortunately, as good as Reniff was at the beginning, he couldn't make his success last and his career ended in rather unmemorable fashion. In fact, he was scored upon in each of his final four innings of the season (kind of an anti-streak) and his major-league baseball career ended when he was released at season's conclusion.

True Metiffs know...As I mentioned in the comments section for my last post, I've referenced three other walk-off wild pitches (out of the 10 total documented occurrences) in Mets history


michael o. said…
Congrats man. I was pretty excited to hear it mentioned so I can only imagine hwo you feel.

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