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The Best Triples I Know

It figures that we're going to need to know a lot about triples this year. So I figured I'd "knowledge-up" and share my findings in this space.

The format is similar to the "Best Games I Know" blog posts, which require the Mets to win the game discussed in order for it to be listed.

The First (April 23, 1962)

The first Mets triple came in the first Mets win, a romp of the Pirates. Appropriately, the inaugural three-base hit came from a three-word named player, Bobby Gene Smith, a two-RBI shot to centerfield in the eighth inning that capped the scoring in a 9-1 victory.

True Metophiles know...Boby Gene Smith had a total of three hits (and three walks) for the Mets. His affinity for that number also comes through in the number of teams he played for in 1962, three (Cubs, Cardinals were the others). His Mets claim to fame is that he was the first player to wear the No. 16.

The Latest (April 28, 1982)
There have been few things in Mets history as fun as watching Mookie Wilson fly around the bases. But unless you were pretty patient, or a night owl, you probably missed the triple he hit in this game. It came deep into the night and deep into the game, in the 15th-inning of a West Coast night game (albeit one that only lasted 3 hours, 45 minutes). Wilson's triple was followed by a sacrifice fly from Bob Bailor, which gave the Mets a 5-4 win over the Padres. It was Wilson's only hit in seven at-bats that night.

What was particularly amazing about this game is that it featured one of the all-time best performances from the Mets bullpen. Working in relief of former Padre Randy Jones, Craig Swan, Neil Allen and Pete Falcone combined for 11 innings of shutout, three-hit ball.

True Metophiles know...The Mets were 40-21 in games in which Mookie Wilson hit a triple.

Three...and a little more (September 16, 1966)

Bud Harrelson averaged a home run about every 850 at-bats, so he had to rely on his legs more than his power if he was ever going to get a late-inning RBI chance as a young player. In this contest in San Francisco, Harrelson not only hit a go-ahead triple (his second of the game) in the ninth inning, but scored on a straight steal of home to give the Mets a two-run cushion. Though the Giants would score once in the home ninth, the Mets would hang on for the win. The loss was more critical for the Giants than it was for the Mets, as it pushed them four games behind the eventual champion Dodgers in the NL pennant race. The Giants eventually finished 1.5 games out of first, but only one in the loss column.

True Metophiles know...Three Mets shortstops have had a multi-triple game: Bud Harrelson, Frank Taveras, and Jose Reyes, who has four.

Vive La France (April 24, 1965)

Previously mentioned when we reviewed the Mets best games against the Giants, this contest shall forever be known as "The Dan Napoleon Game." Napoleon played 80 major league games, all with the mediocre Mets and hit .162. HHis 15 seconds of fame came three games into his Mets career, in the time it took him to go from home plate to third base. Napoleon's three-run, two-out, two-strike triple capped a rally from five down in the ninth in San Francisco and gave Casey Stengel his 3,000th win as a professional manager.

Napoleon might have been best to quit while ahead. The Mets lost the next 30 games (!) in which he appeared. In all, he played 68 games (almost entirely as a reserve) and the Mets won a total of seven.

True Metophiles know: No Mets player has ever tripled in his major league debut, but two tripled in their second major-league game: Marco Scutaro and Lute Barnes (brief aside: The Scutaro triple actually provides a satisfying ending to the movie "A Player To Be Named Later" which documents life in baseball's minor leagues).

The Walk-Off (September 10, 1970)

Regular readers have seen the references we've made to this game, the only one with a walk-off triple in Mets history. It was hit to center field by Cleon Jones, in the 14th inning of a 3-2 Mets victory over the Phillies. I count 73 walk-off triples since then (not counting a couple instances of walk-off triple/error combos) but none for the Mets.

True Metophiles know...Joel Youngblood and Lee Mazzilli each had game-ending triples for the Mets in 1979, but neither was a walk-off. Youngblood's was the last play of a 3-3 11-inning tie with the Pirates called due to game-ending fog. Mazzilli's came at the conclusion of a 4-0 rain-shortened seven-inning win against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

One For the Cycle (September 11, 1997)

John Olerud had three really good years for the Mets, but hitting triples was not his forte. In his first 486 at-bats with the Mets Olerud never tripled. But in at-bat number 487, Olerud got his first one, which sailed over the head of Expos centerfielder(!) Vladimir Guerrero. Not only did this triple, against lefty Steve Kline, score three runs in the eighth inning of an eventual 9-5 win, but it gave Olerud (500 career doubles, 13 career triples) a rather unlikely cycle.

Among the quotes in the New York Times the next day:

"I think he's been sandbagging us. When he needs one, he gets one."-- hitting coach Tom Robson

"Olerud with a cycle. There is hope."-- Butch (4 career triples with the Mets) Huskey

"I guess I couldn't believe it." -- John Olerud

True Metophiles know...Four Mets hit for the cycle by recording a triple as the last of the hits needed: Eric Valent, John Olerud, Kevin Mcreynolds, and Tommie Agee.

Tommie Terrific (July 9, 1969)

The Cubs-Mets game from this date is better known for what happened in the 9th inning- Jimmy Qualls one-out single broke up Tom Seaver's perfect game. But let's not forgot how the game began from a Mets perspective, with Tommie Agee leading off the home first by tripling, than scoring on a base hit by Bobby Pfeil.

While Seaver may have had the year's best performance against the Cubs, Agee's efforts against them were the best year-long performance. He hit .378 with four home runs (and two triples) against the NL's second-best team that season.

True Metophiles know...Qualls hit was a single, but two Mets have pitched one-hitters in which the only hit allowed was a triple- Gary Gentry (1971- Roberto Clemente, Pirates) and Terry Leach (1982- Luis Aguayo, Phillies).

No-Hitter Killer (May 15, 1987)

It's not often that the Flushing 9 got to Met-Killer ike Krukow to the tune of seven runs, and it's not that often (actually, never) that a Mets pitcher throws a no-hitter. Sid Fernandez had the misfortune of injuring himself while legging out a triple against the Giants on this date, forcing him to depart after five hitlesss innings. To the shock of none of the 35,502 in the stands that night (myself, my father, and blogger Greg Prince and his future wife included), Doug Sisk lost the no-hit bid in the sixth inning when Mike Aldrete singled. The Mets ended up winning, 8-3, but a chance at a historic moment was forever lost.

True Metophiles know... A treasure trove Mets pitcher triple facts...

* 19 different Mets pitchers have tripled. Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden share the all-time team lead with five.

* Seaver tripled in consecutive games- on April 12 and 20, 1983. Gooden tripled on the same date (October 3) in both 1992 and 1993.

* The only player in Mets history whose only Met hit was a triple is former pitcher Eric Cammack.

Postseason (October 9, 1986 and October 15, 1986)

The hit that broke open the must-win Game 2 of the 1986 NLCS was a Keith Hernandez triple off Nolan Ryan with two outs in the fifth inning. It increased the Mets lead from 3-0 to 5-0.

But the most important triple in Mets history wouldn't come for another six days. It came with the Mets trailing Bob Knepper and the Astros, 3-0 in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS.

Len Dykstra, leading off worked his way to a 1-2 count before popping a fly ball high in the air to right center. From the looks of the swing, it didn't look as well hit as it was, and perhaps that's why Astros centerfielder Billy Hatcher couldn't catch up to it. By the time he did, Dykstra was on third base, and the Mets game-tying rally had begun.

True Metophiles know...In 159 regular-season at-bats against lefties to that point, Len Dykstra had never hit either a triple or a home run.

More triple trivia, as a reward to those who read the rest of the piece.

* Doug Flynn holds the Mets record for triples in a game with 3 in a Mets loss in 1980. Lance Johnson holds the Mets record for triples in a season with 21 in 1996. The Mets have had seven seasons in which they didn't hit as many triples as Johnson hit that year.

* 267 Mets, at the point of this writing, had hit at least one triple. Jose Reyes holds the club record with 73.

* The Mets are 750-503 in regular season games in which they hit at least one triple, 5-3 in postseason games in which they hit one.

* On June 17, 1962, Marv Throneberry was called out for missing a base while hitting a triple. When Casey Stengel went out to argue, his coach stopped him and said that Throneberry actually failed to touch both bases on the way to third.

* The Mets club record for triples in a game is 4, set in both 1970 and 1979. The Mets lost both of those games.

* Jesse Gonder had the first triple at Shea Stadium, the only triple he hit in 572 career at-bats with the team.

* Former Met Leroy Stanton's first major league hit was a triple on September 28, 1970, but he was hit in the head by the relay throw to third base and had to leave the game.

* The 1,000th triple in Mets history was hit by Jeff Kent on May 28, 1995.

* The Mets have never had a game in which their only hit was a triple.

* The hit that gave the Braves the lead in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS (Robin Ventura grand slam single) was a Keith Lockhart triple.

* Lou Brock's 18 triples are the most by anyone AGAINST the Mets.


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