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You Gotta Have...

It seems a little too easy for me to write about former Mets Bobby or Ellis on this day of amore, so I shall look for something a little more challenging.

There is another former Met with a name connection to this date and his place in team history is underrecognized. That's expected when your big league career consists of but one major league hit and your only baseball card is put out by "The Wiz."

Those are the kind of Mets who are among my favorites- the Mike Glavine's and Ross Jones' of the world. For every superstar, there is someone like this, whose name is meant to be kept alive through the magic of blogs like this.

The fellow of whom I speak today is Greg Harts, who I imagine from time to time wonders what might have been, with his three-game major league career. I can fill you in on what was. Here's what I know.

* Greg Rudolph Harts was born on April 21, 1950 in Atlanta. He was a scholastic MVP in baseball and football at David Howard High but went unselected in the major-league draft. He was signed by Mets scout Julian Morgan on August 11, 1969.

* Harts had two very good minor league seasons at Class-A Visalia of the California League. Three of his 19 home runs in 1971 came in a game against Stockton, tying a league record. He had 18 home runs and 22 steals in 1972. In 1973, Harts hit .263 with Double-A Memphis, which merited a major-league recall.

* Harts got a hit in his first major-league at bat, against Cubs pitcher Rick Reuschel in a Mets loss in the second game of a doubleheader on September 15, 1973. In his second and last at bat, he grounded to third as a pinch-hitter, stranding Bud Harrelson on third base, in an eventual 10-3 loss to the Pirates on September 17.

* Harts was an odd variant of Moonlight Graham in that he got to bat and run but never played a major-league inning in the field.

But he got to go out a winner.

* Harts' last big-league appearance came on September 20, 1973, as a footnote to a rather significant game. Harts pinch ran for catcher Duffy Dyer with the score tied against the Pirates and two outs in the 9th inning. Dyer had just doubled home the tying run, the forgotten moment in the affair that became known as "Ball on the Wall."

Harts went to third base on a balk, but was left stranded there when Wayne Garrett struck out to force extra innings. Ron Hodges replaced Dyer as catcher in the 10th and was at the tail end of that vitally important play in the 13th in which Richie Zisk was thrown out at the plate. Harts was a spectator, we presume, from the Mets bench, as the team won in the bottom of the 13th on Hodges' hit.

Harts earned another recall in 1974 but did not appear in a game, lest he tarnish his historical significance (he and Jim Beauchamp each played their final games in that Ball on the Wall game). There is no mention of him in the 1975 media guide and further attempts to track down his baseball whereabouts were unsuccessful. If anyone knows what happened to Harts after his career concluded, please let us know. I, for one, would love to find out.

True Metharts know...Greg Harts may ever have had a walk-off RBI, but Jim Ray Hart did. In fact, he had one for the Giants against the Mets on September 25, 1967.


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