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Pardon Me While I Stand And Applaud

Regular reader Eric Orns wrote me after Thursday's one-of-a-kind Mets victory (one very reminiscent of those in 2006 with the aggressive baserunning and stellar bullpen work) wanting to know some more about first-batter Mets home runs. While I couldn't answer his exact question, some quick work with did wonders for my knowledge, and so I'll share.

*It was well publicized that Thursday was the first time in which the Mets first two batters of a game homered (and that Jose Reyes set the Mets first-batter home run record). By my count, if you include two postseason first-batter homers, Jose Reyes' home run was the 103rd first-batter home run in Mets history. So in other words, the Mets were 0-for-their-previous 102 (exactly!) in getting their first two batters of a game to homer, with the last before Thursday being Reyes' first-batter home run in Game 6 of the 2006 NLCS.

* Of those 101, 45 came at Shea Stadium and 8 occurred at the Polo Grounds. Prior to Thursday, the split was 52-50 between home and road first-batter home runs.

* Going this late into a season without a first-batter home run is not unusual at all. The Mets have actually had seven seasons in which they went without a first-batter home run, though the last was in 1994. The Mets had one drought that I found particularly odd. On July 2, 1980, Lee Mazzilli hit a first-batter home run at home in a win against the Cubs. The Mets did not have another first-batter home run AT HOME until Mookie Wilson hit one in a loss to the Giants on May 31, 1986.

*I found one instance of a first-batter inside-the-park home run by a Met, and that one took place on May 7, 1963. The game story from that day's Mets-Phillies game describes Charlie Neal as hitting a twisting shot into the right center field gap at the Polo Grounds, and after two outfielders dove and missed the ball (ala Shawn Green), Neal was able to circle the bases, helping pave the way for a 3-1 Mets win.

* I didn't check for every instance of this, but I found the Mets first-batter home run of September 2, 1963 to be particularly interesting. That's because the day before, Tim Harkness concluded a 16-inning home affair against the Braves with a walk-off home run. Not many hours later, against the Reds, Jim Hickman opened an eventual Mets victory with a home run, providing perhaps the longest timespan between back-to-back home runs in club history.

* On September 17, 1988, Len Dykstra (the only Mets with a first-batter home run in a World Series game are him, Tommie Agee and Wayne Garrett) hit a first-batter home run against Bryn Smith (also the day after a walk-off victory). The neat thing about that one- it came on the 11th pitch of the at-bat. With that kind of perseverance, it wasn't surprising that the Mets managed a 6-2 win. I know of at least one other instance in which a first-batter followed up a Mets walk-off win, (Mookie Wilson on May 31, 1986) but the Mets lost that day so I don't find it particularly interesting.

* The main purpose of my quest was to glean this golden nugget. I posed the query to myself: How many times would a Mets fan at Shea Stadium be on their feet, cheering after both the team's first and last batters of the game. That would require a scenario in which the Mets got a first-batter home run and provided their fans with a walk-off victory.

There have been 4 such occurrences in Mets history

1- May 12, 1962, the second game of a doubleheader between the Mets and Braves, which in fact was the second walk-off win in club history. How cool is this? Hobie Landrith homered to end the first game of the doubleheader (the first Mets walk-off win). About 30 minutes later, Jim Hickman's first-batter homer gave the Mets an early lead. Then, a few hours after that, Gil Hodges sent the fans home happy with a walk-off home run of his own.

2- September 14, 1962, against the Reds was another game that featured bookend home runs. Elio Chacon knotted the score at one with a first-batter home run in the bottom of the first. A little more than three hours later, Choo Choo Coleman closed the contest with a game-winning home run.

3- August 23, 1970, also against the Reds, with a rain delay thrown in for good measure. Tommie Agee led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run, but that was forgotten due to an epic ninth-inning rally, in which the Mets overcame a 4-2 deficit with three runs. The winner came home on Joe Foy's bases-loaded walk.

4- May 9, 2004, against the Brewers. While we remember Kaz Matsui for a lot of things (mostly negative in nature) we can recall with pleasure that he had a flare for first-batter home runs (remember, he homered in his first Mets at-bat, as the first batter of that season). On this date he hit one, then hit a walk-off double in his last at-bat of the day, giving the Mets a 6-5 victory. That makes him the only batter in Mets history to homer as the team's first batter of the day and get a walk-off hit as the team's last batter of the day.


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