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Mets Top 100 Home Runs: No. 66 (Dwight Gooden) to No. 70 (Bobby Bonilla)

In 2009, I did a project for my website, Mets Walk-Offs and Other Minutiae, celebrating the best home runs in Mets history. I selected the top 60 regular season home runs and the top 15 postseason home runs. The reason I picked 60 was because it represented the top 1% of home runs in Mets history (and 15 just felt right for postseason).

This was fun to do, but it was imperfect. I had one egregious omission. I tended to favor oddities.

It’s time to give that project an update. And why not do it as a top 100?

The Mets have hit 7,671 regular season home runs. The top 80 represent about the top 1%. And the top 20 postseason home runs get us to an even 100 to celebrate.

Come along for the ride. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the reminiscing. Hopefully you’ll find it Amazin’.

No. 76 to 80 can be found here
No. 71 to 75 can be found here

70. The Jersey-Ripping Game 
(August 30, 1992 vs Reds)
This one is pretty cool.

It was Sunday Night Baseball, the finale of a four-game series in which the bumbling Mets had somehow taken the first three from a good Reds team and entered with a six-game winning streak.

The Mets strung together three straight hits in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. They would not record another hit for more than two hours.

Reds pitcher Tim Belcher, a villain of the 1988 NLCS, retired 23 straight Mets. The Reds scored two runs in the fourth and one in the sixth, both on hits by Glenn Braggs. The score stayed 3-1 into the bottom of the ninth and then Reds manager Lou Piniella did something curious.

He took Belcher out of the game and brought in his closer, Rob Dibble.

Dibble struck out Darryl Boston, but walked Chris Donnells to end the run of consecutive batters retired. He then struck out Jeff Kent, but walked Eddie Murray on four straight pitches. That brought up Bobby Bonilla with two men on base.

Dibble threw Bonilla one pitch, a fastball that Bonilla deposited over the right field fence for a game-winning three-run homer.

“I had a lot of growing up to do in New York,” Bonilla said about the problems he dealt with (and didn’t handle well) this season. “Now I’m in that New York state of mind.”

Eh.

As Dibble walked off the mound, he ripped off the old-time jersey the Reds had worn that night (the teams wore 1962 uniforms). When Rob worked on Baseball Tonight he told the story that he hated anything that broke his normal routine, which wearing that jersey did. He said he was more angry about the jersey than about the home run.

My favorite stat: The Mets would go nearly 21 years before their next walk-off home run when trailing by at least two runs. The next one came on June 16, 2013, when Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit one against Carlos Marmol and the Cubs.

Walk-Off Home Run, Down by 2, Down To Last Out
Dominic Smith     2019 vs Braves
Bobby Bonilla     1992 vs Reds
Steve Henderson   1980 vs Giants
Tim Harkness      1963 vs Cubs
Marv Throneberry  1962 vs Pirates

69. Welcome to the Show 
(August 27, 1974 vs Astros)
Benny Ayala was a nice player, albeit not a star, in a career that spanned 10 seasons with four teams. The first of those was the Mets and in his first at-bat with those Mets, he did something that no debuting Met had done before – he hit a home run.

It came in the second inning versus Astros starter Tom Griffin and supported starting pitcher Tug McGraw en route to a 4-2 Mets win (yes, McGraw started).

“I consider myself a dangerous hitter,” Ayala told reporters after the game. I swing hard at every pitch.”

Ayala’s Mets career was brief, a mere 94 at-bats. His hard-swinging ways came in handy in winning a World Series with the 1983 Orioles. Ayala’s go-ahead single in the seventh inning against Steve Carlton led the Orioles to a 3-1 win. Orioles fans likely remember him fondly. As for Mets fans, Marty Noble predicted it accurately in the August 28, 1974 edition of the Bergen Record.

“Depending on his ability, Benny Ayala could either become part of baseball history or be part of Today’s Baseball Quiz flashed on the Shea Stadium scoreboard in 1984.”

Mets to HR in First MLB At-Bat
Mike Jacobs       2005
Kaz Matsui        2004
Mike Fitzgerald   1983
Benny Ayala       1974

My favorite stat: Benny Ayala entered the 2020 season tied for 267th in home runs by a Met with (among others) Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.

68. Gary Sheffield’s 500th home run 
(April 17, 2009 vs Brewers)
Most of the time when you sign a 40-year-old aging former standout who appears to be all but done, it doesn’t work out. This isn’t just true for the Mets. It’s a universal fact. But Gary Sheffield was the exception to the rule.

Sheffield was a decent Met in an indecent season. He wasn’t what he once was, but he wasn’t bad (okay, he wasn’t a bad hitter … fielding, eh). And he gave the Mets a bonus of a historic baseball moment.

Sheffield’s first home run with the Mets wasn’t just a game-tying homer in the seventh inning against the Brewers (in a game won by a Luis Castillo hit in the ninth). It was the 500th home run of his career. Sheffield’s Wikipedia page has a great quote from former Brewers manager Tom Treblehorn. “He could turn on a .38 caliber bullet.” The home run was classic Shefield, a big powerful swing resulting in a blast down the left field line.

He’s the first player to hit his 500th home run with the Mets.

We’re not here to defend some of the things that are not liked about Sheffield (nor his mentions in the Mitchell Report), but as someone who was there for this home run, I can tell you it was a pretty cool moment.
  
My favorite stat: Sheffield became the third player to hit a home run as a teenager and after turning 40. The other two were Ty Cobb and Rusty Staub (Alex Rodriguez since joined them).

67. Carlos Delgado sets a Mets record 
(June 27, 2008 at Yankees)
So this was originally going to be the spot for Dave Kingman’s 3-homer, 8-RBI game against the Dodgers in 1976, but you know what? Though Kingman was the first autograph I ever got, I don’t like him very much. He was a jerk when he played, once sending a dead rat to a sportswriter. That’s unacceptable. And I’d rather pick another.

So let’s expunge Kingman by going with the player who expunged Kingman’s record for RBI in a game with the Mets. Carlos Delgado, a much more likeable figure than Kingman, holds the club record for that stat. He drove in nine runs in five innings the first game of a doubleheader against the Yankees.

The barrage began with a two-run double in the fifth inning, continued with a grand slam in the sixth inning and concluded with a three-run home run in the seventh inning.

“I got good pitches to hit and I was able to drive them,” Delgado said afterwards.

And in the process, drove Kingman out of the record book.

My favorite stat: The previous mark for most RBI by a Met vs the Yankees was 5, shared by Derek Bell (2000) and Kaz Matsui (2004).

66. Dwight Gooden’s first home run 
(September 21, 1985 vs Pirates)
I’m a little biased on this one. Ten-year-old me was at this game and I remember it quite well, except that Gooden’s home run was very clearly hit to left field and I remember turning my eyes to right field. Oh well. Ten-year-old me was smart enough to score a game with 16 unearned runs flawlessly, but still dopey enough to look the wrong way on a pretty cool moment.

“I’d take a home run over a no-hitter any day,” Gooden said.

My favorite stat: Dwight Gooden enters the 2020 season as the Mets all-time leader in home runs by a pitcher with 7. Tom Seaver and Noah Syndergaard rank second with 6.

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