Sep 1, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1985) Keith Hernandez Starts Out the Month With Two Big Games

Sunday September 1st, 1985: Davey Johnson's Mets were 77-52 just two games out of first place, playing at San Francisco against Jim Davenport's last place Giants (51-77). The Mets Ed Lynch went up against the Giants Dave Lapoint in front of a small crowd under 9000 at Candlestick Park.

In the 4th inning, the Mets were down 1-0 when Gary Carter tied the game with a solo HR, his 20th of the year. In the 6th inning, with two on & two outs Bob Brenly doubled bringing in both runners for a3-1 Giants lead.

In the 9th inning the Mets Howard Johnson led off with a double off Scott Garrelts. Pinch hitter Rusty Staub followed with a double bringing in HoJo making it a one run game. Larry Bowa came in to pinch run for Rusty. Mookie Wilson followed with a base hit but Bowa was thrown out at home. Keith Hernandez followed & faced reliever Mark Davis. 

Hernandez who had grown up in the Bay Area as a fan of the Giants, thrilled his local family & friends in the crowd, as he blasted a two run HR. It was the game winner as Jesse Orosco closed the door in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Monday September 2nd, 1985; The Mets moved on to San Diego to play Dick Williams third place Padres. The Mets Sid Fernandez (5-7) went up against Mark Thurmond (6-7). 

The Mets star of last nights game; Keith Hernandez would have another big day, as tonight he would collect five hits, tying a Mets record for most hits in a game.

In the Mets 1st inning Hernandez singled, he & Gary Carter would soon score on Darryl Strawberry's triple. In the 2nd inning, Hernandez singled again bringing in Wally Backman. Strawberry would once again bring in Hernandez making it a 6-1 game. Hernandez would single again in the 4th inning & 7th inning. That inning he would score again on George Foster's single. Ray Knight added a three run HR making it 10-1 Mets.

In the 8th inning, Keith Hernandez topped off his five hit day with a two run HR making it 12-3. It was his tenth HR of the year. Keith finished the night batting just under the .300 mark.

0ne of the First Popular Mets Players: Marvelous Marv Throneberry (1962-1963)

Marvin Eugene Throneberry was born on September 2, 1933 in Collierville, Tennessee. Marv is the younger brother of MLB outfielder; Faye Throneberry.

The six foot one, Left-handed Marv Throneberry, was originally signed in 1952 by the AL New York club. He played in the minor leagues at Denver where the thin air helped him lead the league in HRs & RBIs three straight seasons. He was brought up in September 1955 with the AL New York team but never quite matched his minor league numbers at the plate. He had problems fielding as well.

He spent the next two seasons back in the minors before returning to the majors for good in 1958. He hit just .227 but had 7 HRs with 19 RBIs in 150 at bats over 60 games.

He got one World Series at bat in 1958, striking out against the Milwaukee Braves Lew Burdette. On December 11, 1959 he was traded along with Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Norm Siebern to the Kansas City Athletics for Roger Maris, Joe DeMaestri & Kent Hadley.

In Kansas City he hit .250 with 11 HRs & 41 RBIs in 236 at bats, but struck out 60 times, a ratio of every four at bats. In early June 1961 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Gene Stephens. Overall with both teams that year, he batted .226 with 11 HRs & 35 RBIs.

In May of 1962 after just nine games played, he was sent to the expansion New York Mets for cash & a player to be named later which turned out to be Hobie Landrith.

With the Mets he finally got to be an everyday player and had his best season. Marv was certainly no All star but he became one of the early Mets first popular players & folk heroes, becoming known as Marvelous Marv. 

At The Polo Grounds the first Mets fans would hang banners draped from the upper deck in his honor. One of the all time classics read “Cranberry, Strawberry, We Love Throneberry”. 

The fans started the “Marvelous Marv” fan club which at one point held 5000 members. They would come to the ballpark with the letters VRAM painted on the backs of their shirts, Marv spelled backwards. Throneberry himself, did anything he could to play into his image, he even pointed out his initials spelled out M.E.T.

Defensively, Throneberry was known to be a liability, he committed 17 errors posting a .981 fielding %. It would be the worst fielding percentage of any first baseman until 1979. On Casey Stengel’s birthday the team threw him a party for the manager, everyone got a piece of cake except Marv. Casey told him, we were afraid to give you a piece, because you may have dropped that too.

On a classic June 17th game, he hit what looked like a triple but was called out for not touching second base. When Stengel came out to argue, Mets coach Cookie Lavagetto told Stengel; to forget it saying he missed first base too. Of course the Mets lost the game by one run. 

It was legendary stories like this that made the legend of Marvelous Marv grow & have manager Casey Stengel say “ Can’t anybody here play this game?”

In his first Mets game on May 11th, he batted sixth & played at first base. He got a hit plus a walk that day against Bob Shaw in an 8-5 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. He struggled at first not getting over the .200 mark until June 10th. From June 17th through June 23rd he drove in runs & hit safely in six of eight games. He also finished the month with four multiple RBI games.

Marv did have a few heroic moments which helped him get even more members in his fan club. In the first game of a July 7th double header at the Polo Grounds, he hit a walk off pinch hit HR off Ernie Broglio to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. In the second game of that twin bill, Marv hit another HR, this one off pitcher Ray Washburn although the Mets lost the game 3-2. Later in the summer he hit safely in 15 of 16 games, to start out the month of August raising his average to a season high .255.

On August 2nd he hit a pair of solo HRs in a 9-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Later in the month, at the Polo Grounds on August 21st he came into the game as a pinch hitter, with the Mets behind 4-2. Throneberry had two runners on & was facing the Pittsburgh Pirates Roy Face one of the top relief pitchers in the NL. He was the hero of the day, as he hit the game winning walk off, three run HR to an ecstatic Polo Grounds crowd of under 5000.

The next day he drove in two runs against Jack Sanford & the San Francisco Giants to an almost sold out Polo Grounds in a 5-4 Mets win. He would also drive in a run in two games of the series with the Dodgers on that same home stand. In mid September he had back to back HR games coming against the Cincinnati Reds at the Polo Grounds. In the Mets inaugural season, Throneberry was second on the team in HRs (16) batting .244 with 11 doubles, 3 triples, a .306 on base % & 49 RBIs in 116 games played. He struck out 83 times as well.

The next season after just 14 games, he was batting .143 going 2-15, with five strikeouts. The Mets sent him down to the minors, opening a roster spot for 17 year old Ed Kranepool who would remain with the Mets through 1979. Throneberry was released after a salary dispute with upper management later that season.

Even after he was gone “Bring Back Marv” banners would appear at the Polo Grounds. Marv retired from baseball at age 29.

In a seven-season career he was a .237 hitter with 281 hits 53 HRs 37 doubles 8 triples and 170 RBIs in 480 games. He struck out 295 times in 1186 at bats posting a .311 on base %.

Retirement: In the early 1980’s, Marv enjoyed a new success starring in some of the classic Lite Beer from Miller commercials. His famous lines were: “I still don’t know why they asked me to do this commercial” as he was surrounded by a bunch of better & more famous athletes.

And "If I do for Lite what I did for baseball, I'm afraid their sales will go down." Columnist Jimmy Breslin then said, "Having Marv Throneberry play for your team is like having Willie Sutton work for your bank."

Marv passed away from cancer in Fishersville, Tennessee, at age 60 in 1993. He was survived by his wife, Dixie; three daughters, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Maynard Faye Throneberry is the older brother of Marv Throneberry. The five foot eleven outfielder, was born on June 22nd 1931 in Fisherville, Tennessee.
At age twenty he debuted for with the Boston Red Sox playing in 98 games alongside Dom DiMaggio & Hoot Evers in the Sox outfield. He had a fine start to his career stealing 15 bases (5th best in the NL) hitting .258 with 5 HRs & 23 RBIs in 310 at bats. He would go off to serve two years military service in the Korean War & returned in 1955. He played as a reserve outfielder the next two seasons getting traded to the Washington Senators in 1957.
His 1960 Topps baseball card had him wearing glasses & he looked more like a scholar than a ball player.

Faye spent four years in the nation's capitol, seeing the most action in 1959 (117 games) when he hit .251 with a career high ten HRs & 42 RBIs. That year he led all right fielders in errors (7). In 1960 he was selected in the expansion draft & played his final MLB season with the Los Angeles Angels batting .194 in just 24 games.

In an eight year career he nit .236 with 307 hits, 48 doubles 29 HRs & 137 RBIs in 521 games.

Retirement: After baseball he became a successful pro trainer of bird dogs, winning a 1973 National Bird Dod Championship with Millers Miss Knight. He passed away at age 67 in 1999.

1951 N.L. Champion New York Giants Infielder: "The Brat" Eddie Stanky (1950-1951)

Edward Raymond Stanky was born in Philadelphia, Pa. on September 3, 1916. The five foot eight inch second baseman, originally came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1943.

He made 27 errors (second most in the league) as well as posting the third most assists & put outs. He batted .245 but walked 92 times (4th best in the NL) posting a .363 on base % while scoring 92 runs (5th in the league).

Stanky never hit for high batting averages but always drew a lot of walks, which gave him good on base percentages. It was these qualities along with a  never ending determination to win, that made him such a tough valuable team player.

He would do whatever it took to get on base, hit, walk or take one for the team. He then would find some way to annoy the pitcher, as well as other position players, advance a base, & score a run.

At his position on second base, he would distract batters by jumping up & down as the pitch was delivered. He would also do anything he could to get base runners out, standing up to anyone sliding into his base as well.

As a second baseman, Stanky led the league in put outs three times, assists & fielding percentage one time each. He was quick to turn a double play, turning 100 or more four separate seasons, making 816 in his career.

Quotes: Leo Durocher said “he can’t hit, can’t run, cant field, but all that little SOB can do is win. He’ll beat you every time.”

The pesky second baseman earned the nick name “the Brat”.

As a base runner, on third base, he would stand several feet behind the base. Then as a fly ball was hit, he would run at full speed timing the arc of the outfielders throw, so he could touch third base as the fielder caught the ball. By that time he was at full speed making it almost impossible to throw him out at home.

The league eventually changed the rule so a runner had to tag up on the base, not being able to advance until the fielder caught the ball.

In Stanky’s sophomore year (1944) he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he would play  for four seasons, winning his first pennant there. In his first season, he led the league in walks (148) runs scored (128) &at bats (726) for 1945. That year he batted .258 with 29 doubles, 5 HRs & a posted a .417 on base % (5th in the league) getting 19 sacrifice hits (4th in the NL).

He was one of the toughest men to strike out during his playing time, striking out just 42 times that season alone.

Although he made a league leading 34 errors at second, he was first in put outs & second in assists.

The next year (1946) he led the league in walks once again (137) as well as on base % (.436%) & sacrifice hits (20) while batting .273 with 24 doubles.
He was so valuable to his team he came in seventh in the league’s MVP voting.

By 1947 he was one of the game’s best infielders, making his first All Star team, leading the NL at second base in fielding (.985%) second in putouts, & third in assists. He was part of a the Dodger infield when Jackie Robinson made his historic MLB debut that same season.

At first Stanky was quiet, but one day as the Philadelphia bench was shouting insults at Robinson, Stanky stood up & shouted back. Soon most other Dodger players stood up for their team mate as well, most notably Pee Wee Reese. This scene is portrayed in the film "42".

Once again he drew over 100 walks, while posting a .373 on base %, & scoring 97 runs. In 559 at bats he only struck out 39 times. That year Brooklyn beat out the St. Louis Cardinals by five games to win the pennant.

Post Season: In the 1947 World Series; Stanky drew three walks, going 6-21, with a sacrifice & two RBIs, while batting .240 playing in all seven games.

One classic play in this series was when Jackie Robinson stole home & was called safe. Catcher Yogi Berra argued & still to this day claims Robinson was out.

In Game #2 at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, he helped fuel a six run Dodger 2nd inning, with a two run single scoring Pee Wee Reese & pitcher; Joe Hatten.

In  Spring Training of 1948 he was traded to the Boston Braves, for cash & a player to be named later. That season he was limited to just 67 games batting .320 on the year for the first place Braves of Warren Spahn & Johnny Sain.

He made it to his second straight World Series in 1948 with the Braves, losing to the Cleveland Indians in six games. Stanky batted .286 (4-14) with a .524 on base % as he drew seven walks.

After batting .285 with 144 hits, 24 doubles 5 triples & a .417 on base % in 1949, he was traded that December along with Alvin Dark to the New York Giants for Sid Gordon, Buddy Kerr, Willard Marshall and Red Webb.

His old pal Leo Durocher was now managing the New York Giants after he had come over from the rival Brooklyn Dodgers as well. It was there Stanky had played & impressed Leo. One of Durocher’s first moves in New York was to get Stanky on his team in the Polo Grounds.

Stanky & Alvin Dark would make up a fantastic duo up the middle infield, turning 128 double plays on the Giants infield. Stanky posted a .976 fielding % leading the league in games played at second, put outs & assists. He would make the All Star team & come in third place in the MVP voting.

That season Stanky had one of his best years at the plate as well, leading the N.L. in on base percentage (.460) & walks (144). He batted .300 with 25 doubles, 8 HRs, posting career highs in RBIs (51) & stolen bases (9).

It was the only time he played a full season & batted .300. In mid May he had a three hit game where he hit a pair of HRs & drove in three runs, in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

A typical Stanky play occurred on July 25th at the Polo Grounds. He drew a 9th inning walk in a 6-6 ties against the Cincinnati Reds, then stole second base & reached third base on an error. He then scored the game winning run on a Don Mueller sac fly.

At the end of August he set a record by drawing seven consecutive walks, coming over a two game span at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He drew walks in eleven consecutive games that month. On September 15th he had another multi HR game, hitting a pair of HRs in a game at Wrigley Field.

In 1951 he was the Giants main second baseman again, as they made their dramatic come back to tie the Brooklyn Dodgers forcing a three game playoff at the end of the season.

He kept his average up over .300 until June but even as it dropped off he helped the Giants all year with his bat. In July he hit an 8th inning two run HR off the Reds Howie Fox leading Larry Jansen & New York to a 3-2 win.

On August 21st he sparked a 4-1 Giants comeback in the home 8th inning with a lead off HR. The Giants went on to a 5-4 win extending their win streak to ten games.

At the start of September he scored two runs in an 8-1 win over the Dodgers & then scored three more runs the next day in an 11-2 win. On September 24th Stanky singled off the Boston Braves Chet Nichols in the bottom of the 9th inning scoring Davey Williams with the game winning run.

He drove in runs in the next two games at Philadelphia & went on a an eight game hit streak. In the month of September he scored 15 runs Stanky contributed by hitting a career high 14 HRs with 17 doubles & 43 RBIs.

Although his average dropped to .247 he still posted a .400 on base percentage walking 127 times (2nd most in the league).

In the classic third game of the 1951 playoffs, when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot heard round the World, pennant winning HR, Stanky went 0-4. He is the most visible jumping around third base & grabbing Leo Durocher with a hug of disbelief, as well as joy in the coaching box. Stanky is the guy wearing his jacket, as Leo throws his cap in the air.

Post Season: In the 1951 World Series he only hit .136 (3-22) drawing three walks & driving in a run.

In a famous play sliding into second base, Stanky lived up to the moniker "the Brat". He kicked the ball out of AL New York's short stop; Phil Rizzuto’s glove, getting the safe call while sliding into second base. He would go onto score one of his three World Series runs following that play.

After the season he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as his career began to wind down at age 35. He became the team’s player manager and the following season, he was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year.

His team still finished in third place, although they had won seven more games than the previous year. The Cards ownership switched hands to the Busch family in 1955 & Stanky was let go.

In 1953 he finished his playing career. The Brat played for 11 seasons, posting a .410 on base percentage (35th all time best) with 996 walks (118th all time). He had 1154 hits, 29 HRs 185 doubles 35 triples, 364 RBIs & a .268 batting average in 1259 games played.

In his career he only went down 374 times by striking out in 4301 at bats.

At second base he played in 1152 games (91st all time) making 3030 put outs (59th all time) 3215 assists (92nd all time) making 162 errors (96th all time) posting a .975 fielding %.

Retirement: He first coached in Cleveland for the Indians after his playing days. He then came back to work in the front office in St. Louis during the early sixties.

In 1965 he worked for the New York Mets in their front office, before moving on to manage the Chicago White Sox for three seasons (1966-1968).

In 1967 his Sox were in the pennant race until the final days of the season when the lowly Kansas City A’s knocked them out of contention, finishing three games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox won the pennant in the year known as "The Impossible Dream" season in Boston. At the same time, across town his old pal Leo Durocher was managing the Chicago Cubs.

He was let go as manager in Chicago after a slow start in 1968. After that he became a successful coach at the University of South Alabama, winning five championships in 14 seasons. There he was inducted into the Mobile Alabama Sports Hall of Fame & is honored with a bronze statue.

In 1977 he made a brief return to MLB, managing the Texas Rangers replacing Frank Lucchesi after all the drama involving him & Lenny Randle.

Stanky had second thoughts, and returned to coach for Alabama. Stanky passed away at Alabama in 1990 at age 83.

Former Brooklyn Born Italian / American: Rich Aurilia (1995-2009)

Richard Santo Aurilia was born on September 2, 1971 in Brooklyn, New York. Aurilia went to Xaverian high school in Bay Ridge Brooklyn and then attended St. John’s University.

He was a star player for the Red Storm baseball team, making All Big East getting & eventually being inducted in the school's Hall of Fame. The six foot infielder was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 24th round of the 1992 draft.

He got eventually was traded to the San Francisco Giants with Desi Wilson for pitcher John Burkett. Aurillia would play for the Giants as their main second baseman for nine seasons (1996-2003) then returning for three more years at the end of his career (2006-2009). He was a good defensive short stop, anchoring the Giants infield for most of the late nineties & early 2000’s. Aurilla made it as a September call up in 1995 going 9-19.

In 1996 he got into 105 games sharing time with veteran Shawon Dunston at Short stop. Aurillia struggled hitting .239. In 1997 he hit the first grand slam recorded in interleague play, in a game against the Anaheim Angels. He only played in 46 games that year as he battled injuries.

The next season he had his first full year as a regular, batting .266 with 9 HRs 27 doubles & 49 RBIs. From 1999-2001 he led all shortstops in HRs, although he was not known as a big power hitter. In the 2000 NLDS he only had two hits against New York Mets pitching (2-15) with a double.

His best season came in 2001 when he led the league in hits (206) batting .324, with career highs in HRs (37) doubles (37) & RBIs (97), making his first All Star team. Tht year he led all shortstops with 246 put outs & was fifth in fielding .975%. The following season he led the league in fielding (.980 %). In his career he never came close to those numbers again, although he did have four twenty plus HR & 70 plus RBIs seasons.

Post Season: In the 2002 NLDS he hit two HRs driving in seven runs against the Atlanta Braves as the Giants went on to win the Series. In the NLCS he hit two HRs, in Game #2 at St. Louis leading the Giants to a 4-1 win over the Cardinals. He batted .333 (5-22) advancing to his first World Series.

In the 2002 World Series he homered in the Giants Game Three 10-4 loss. He hit another HR in the Giants 16-4 rout in Game #5 at Pac Bell Park. He went 0-4 in the final game and finished the Series 8-32 with a .250 average.

In 2004 he signed with the Seattle Mariners but had a hard time adjusting to the American League, batting just .241. That July he was traded to the San Diego Padres but left there at the end of the season. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds and had two good years, hitting .300 for the second time in his career.

In 2006 he also hit 23 HRs with 25 doubles a .349 on base % & 70 RBIs. He returned to San Francisco in 2007 but battled injuries.

In 2008 he saw action in 140 games batting .283 with 10 HRs 21 doubles & 52 RBIs. As his career was winding down he was playing both at first base & third base. He made the roster again in 2009 but it turned out to be his last season. In his final game in the Bay area he received a standing ovation as the fans appreciated his consistent years of quality play.

Aurilia finished his 15 year career batting .275 with 1576 hits 186 HRs 301 doubles 22 triples 756 RBIs & a .328 on base %.

Retirement: In 2003, he made his television debut, on the ABC soap opera General Hospital, appearing in a non-speaking role as a Juror in a court room scene. He was accompanied by his wife, Raquel who played another juror.

Raquel Aurillia is also a singer / song writer who has released two album CDs. They are also very active in the Make a Wish Foundation charity.

Aug 31, 2014

Today In Mets History: (1975) Seaver Wins 20th Game & Sets Record With Eight Straight 200 K Seasons

Monday September 1, 1975: This was a big night at the time for the '75 Mets & 45,991 filled up Shea Stadium.

Interim Manager Roy McMillan's Mets (72-64) were just four games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates (75-59). Danny Murtaugh's Pirates were at Shea with John Candeleria (7-4) going up against Tom Seaver, who was going for his 20th victory & yet another record.

Tonight Tom Seaver would strike out ten Pirates,putting him over the 200 strike out mark for the eigth straight season. A feat no other pitcher had done before.

In the 1975 season Seaver would once again lead the league in strikeouts with 243. It was the 4th time he topped the NL in K's, doing it in 1970, 1971, 1973 & 1975. He would do it one final time the next season, 1976.
Tonight's victory put him atthe twenty win mark, the fourth time in his career that he reached that milestone. Seaver would end up leading the league in victories going 22-9 with the 3rd best ERA in the league at 2.38.

He pitched 15 complete games (3rd in the NL) & toss five shut outs (4th in the NL). These number won Tom Terific his Third Cy Young Award (1969-1973-1975). Seaver would win the Player of the Week Award this week, his second Player of the Week Award of the Year. He had also won Pitcher of the Month in June of 1975.

Seaver was spectacular on this night, as he pitched the complete game four hit shut out. He gave up just one walk while striking out ten. From the 6th inning on, he notched six of the ten strike outs. It was the second straight game he struck out ten batters & the third time on the year he went into double figures.

In the home 1st, the Mets gave him support; rookie Mike Vail hit his first career HR, putting the Mets up 1-0. In the 6th, Felix Millan led off with a single and scored on a Rusty Staub double. Joe Torre then drove home Staub with a base hit, to put the Mets up for good at 3-0.

Former Mets Out Fielder: Marlon Byrd (2013)

 Marlon Jerrard Byrd was born on August 30th, 1977 in Boynton Beach, Florida.

The six foot right hand hitting outfielder attended Georgia Perimeter College at Marietta Georgia.

He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th round of the 1999 draft. 

By 2001 he was voted the second best prospect (behind Josh Beckett by Baseball America, winning the MVP while joining Jeromy Burnitz in the 30-30 club of the Eastern League. In 2002 he made his fourth minor league All Star team, hitting .297 leading the International League in runs (103) extra base hits (59) & total bases (256) while at AAA Scranton. 

That September he got a call up to the Phillies big league club, joking second baseman Marlon Anderson as the only two major leaguers ever to have Marlon as a first name.

In 2003 the Phillies were hoping Byrd was the word, as he got a regular job in their outfield. In 135 games he hit .303 with 7 HRs & 45 RBIs posting a .366 on base %, coming in fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

But the next season he fell to a .228 batting average, with five HRs & 33 RBIs. In 2005 he struggled through injuries & found himself traded to the Washington Nationals for Endy Chavez. He was a reserve outfielder for Washington in 2006 batting just .223 & was let go to free agency at the end of the year.

In 2007 he signed on with the Texas Rangers having the best years of his career. He hit .307 with 10 HRs & 70 RBIs his first season at Arlington with the 4th place Rangers. He put up similar numbers the next year then followed with his best season in 2009.

That year he had career highs in doubles (43) RBIs (89) & hit 20 HRs, for Ron Washington's second place Rangers. His ten sac flies were most in the league & his ten hit by pitches were seventh. He won Player of the Week honors for the week of September 27th, 2009. 

In the outfield he turned a league leading four double plays posting a .991 fielding %. He was granted free agency, signing with the Chicago Cubs in a three year deal.

He hit .293 with 12 HRs as the Cubs best hitter in 2010, playing in 153 games, making his only All Star team. His outfield play was very good, posting a .992 fielding % (3rd in the NL for center fielders).

In 2011 he got off to a hot start, but was hit with apitch below the batting elmet flap suffering multiple fractures. He returned to play in 199 games, batting .276 with nine HRs & 35 RBIs, making eight assists in the outfield (3rd most in the NL).

In 2012 he was hitting .070 after 13 games & was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.

Overall he hit .210 in 47 games and was released by mid June. On top of having no team, he was suspended for 50 games for violating MLB's policy on PEDs. It looked as though the 35 year old was finished, but in February he was given a minor league contract by the New York Mets.

He had a great Spring Training and with outfield positions open to the best producers that March, he won the right field position on Terry Collins Mets team.

Byrd got the Opening Day start in right field batting in the fifth position. He was to surprise everyone with his all around play & be one of the brightest spots in the Mets '13 offense.

On April 7th, he came to bat with one out, with runners on second & third, with the Mets down 3-2 to the Miami Marlins. He delivered with a two run walk off single, scoring Ruben Tejada & Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

On April 13th he hit his first HR of the season, coming at Target Field in Minnesota, during the game Matt Harvey took a no hitter into the 7th inning.

By May, Byrd developed into one of the top hitters on the Mets club, hitting five HRs driving in ten runs. In the late May subway series sweep over the A.L. New York team, Byrd hit HRs in back to back games, driving in four runs.

On June 5th, he hit two HRs in the 10-1 win over the Nats in Washington D.C. During the mid June home stand he hit three HRs in a five day span coming in wins against the St. Louis Cardinals & Chicago Cubs.

On June 16th, he led off the bottom of the 9th inning with a HR, against the Cubs. The Mets were down 3-0 but went on to win after his HR & a three run walk off HR by Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

On June 27th with the Mets down 2-1 to the Colorado Rockies, Byrd hit an 8th inning two run HR off Matt Belisle leading to the -2 Mets win.

From July 6th through July 21st, Byrd got on another hot streak with 17 hits, hitting five HRs while driving in 15 runs. He raised his average twenty points in the month, hitting safely in all but two games the entire month as well with 14 multi hit games.

On July 9th in San Francisco, he hit a grand slam HR off Jake Dunning, breaking the game open as the Mets went on to a 10-5 victory over the Giants & a series sweep of the reigning world champs. 

On July 29th, his RBI single scoring Daniel Murphy tied up a game in Miami 5-5. He would score on Ike Davis' double. As the Mets went on to the 6-5 win. After such a strong July, he fell off in early August, not hitting a HR since July 21st.

On the August West Coast road trip, he hit three more HRs matching his career high of twenty for the season. Byrd drove in eight runs on the road trip with 16 hits, getting his average up to .290.

Through August 26th, he was leading the team in HRs with 21 (ahead of David Wright) & RBIs (71).

He was second in triples (5) which was 9th most in the NL, slugging (.518) & doubles (26). He was third on the club in hits (121).

He also has struck out over 100 times, in the league's top ten in K's & has six sac flies (6th most in the NL). In the outfield he has seven assists.

It was reported on August 27th that he was claimed on waivers by an anonymous team. That same day he was traded along with John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for infield prospect; Dilson Herrera.

The Pirates were having their best season in decades & the excitement in the Steel City for baseball was at a peak. In his first game in Pittsburgh he hit a HR in the 7-1 Pirate win over the Milwaukee Brewers, welcome Marlon Byrd.

On September 14th, his 7th inning HR was the game winner off the Cubs; Scott Baker. He closed out the season with a HR on the last day & drove in two runs in each of the last two games in a crucial series against the Cincinnati Reds, in which the Pirates took two of three.

Post Season: After a long career, Byrd was playing in his first post season. In the NL Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds, he had two hits including a HR off Johnny Cueto in the 2nd inning, helping the Bucs to a 6-2 win. In the NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he went hitless in five games. 

In the off season he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies & got himself a steady job in the outfield. His defense improved considerably & he put together his second straight solid offensive season as well.

By the All Star break he had 18 HRs & drove in over fifty runs.Through the end of August he was the Phillies leading HR hitter (23) & played in the most games of any player on the club. Byrd was second in RBIs (72) doubles (23) & runs scored (64).

In his 13 year career he is hitting .279 with 129 HRs 276 doubles 605 RBIs & a .334 on base % in 1375 games played (thru 8/20/14).

1999 N.L. Wild Card Mets Utility Infielder: Luis Lopez (1997-1999)

Luis Manuel López Santos was Born on September 4, 1970 in Cidra, Puerto Rico. The five foot eleven infielder, was signed as an amateur free agent by the San Diego Padres in 1997. After six years in the minors he made a brief appearance with the Padres playing in 17 games in 1993.

He spent two seasons in San Diego as a reserve infielder, getting traded to the Houston Astros in Spring Training 1997. Two weeks later he was traded to the New York Mets for Tim Bogar.

Lopez batted .330 with 4 HRs 19 RBIs in 48 games at AAA Norfolk, getting brought up to the Mets squad in June 1997. He would play a utility role at short stop (45 games) second base (20 games) & third base (4 games). On September 14th he hit his only HR of the season, scoring the only run in a 1-0 Mets win over the Montreal Expos. On the year he batted .270 with one HR 12 doubles & 19 RBIs.

Lopez would play in 117 games in 1998 behind Carlos Baerga at second (50 games) & Rey Ordonez at short (39 games) in the middle of the Mets infield. He was a valuable defensive player that also hit .252 at the plate.

That year he hit two HRs one at Fenway Park in Boston during interleague play & the other at Shea. It came against the Atlanta Braves' Bruce Chen in the second inning. He later doubled home two more runs, off Dennis Martinez.

In the Mets 1999 Wild Card season, Lopez played in 68 games on the year, 33 at short stop, 16 at second & 9 at third base. On April 11th he drove in two runs having a three hit day, in a 6-3 win in Montreal.

On May 10th he hit one of two HRs on the season, the other came against the Dodgers in a 10-3 Mets loss. On the year he hit .212 with a .309 on base % 2 HRs 4 doubles & 13 RBIs. He did not play in the post season and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Bill Pulsipher in January 2000.

Lopez played two years in Milwaukee having his best year in 2000. He doubled home two runs in the Brewers 4-0 win over the Florida Marlins in early April. In May he hit a HR against the Braves & added another the next month.

At the end of August he found power hitting a HR on August 23rd & another on August 31st. That day he had a big three hit, three RBI day at Arizona. In September he hit two more HRs & had three multi RBI games. he finished the year batting .264 with 6 HRs 27 RBIs.

He spent two seasons there backing up Mark Loretta, Ronnie Beliard & Tyler Houston. He then moved on to the Baltimore Orioles (2002 /2004) & Cincinnati Reds (2005).

In a eleven year career, Lopez batted .241 with 390 hits 22 HRs 85 doubles 7 triples 10 stolen bases 151 RBIs & a .293 on base %.

Late Eighties Mets Pitcher: David West (1988-1989)

David Lee West was born on September 1st, 1964 at Memphis Tennessee. The tall six foot six, lefty got signed by the New York Mets right out of high school, in the fourth round of the 1983 draft.

West won ten games or more for three straight seasons at Columbia & Jackson from 1985-1987.

In 1988 he was 12-4 with a 1.80 ERA at AAA Tidewater, earning himself a September call up to the Mets staff. He made his MLB debut at St. Louis on September 24th as the Mets starting pitcher. He pitched five innings & earned his first victory as the Mets romped the St. Louis Cardinals 14-1. He made one other appearance in relief at Philadelphia. In 1989 after six relief appearances, the Mets gave him two starts, in which he lost both games. Overall he was 0-2 in eleven appearances posting a 7.40 ERA.

At the end of July he was traded along with Rick Aguilera & Kevin Tapani to the Minnesota Twins, for former Cy Young winner, Long Island born Frank Viola. West went 3-2 the rest of the season in Minnesota posting a 6.41 ERA in ten games with five starts. Over the next two years he was used mostly as a starter, going 7-9 in 1990.

In 1991 he was 4-4 making 15 starts before going to the bull pen, posting a 4-4 record. In the ALCS he was the winning pitcher in the final Game #5 pitching a scoreless 5th inning as the Twins went on to win 8-5. In the World Series he had a nightmare of a 5th inning in Game #3 as he allowed four earned runs retiring no batters giving him an ERA measured at infinity. By 1992 he was put in the bullpen and only appeared in nine games during the regular season.

In 1993 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Mike Hartley, there he became a strong middle reliever /set up man. He went 6-4 with three saves while making 76 appearances for the 1993 NL Champions. He pitched in six post season games but was not effective.

Post Season: In the NLCS he allowed five runs in just 2.2 innings pitched (13.50 ERA) & then West allowed three more runs in just one inning pitched in the World Series loss against the Blue Jays. His World Series ERA was 27.00. Overall he got beat up for eight earned runs over just four innings pitched, giving him an ERA of over 20.00 in that post season.

He spent four more season in Philadelphia, going 4-10 in 1994 as he attempted to once again become a starter. He was granted free agency, and pitched in Japan for one season in 1997.

In 1998 he appeared in only six games with the Boston Red Sox before finishing his ten year career at 31-38 with three saves & a 4.66 ERA in 569 innings pitched over 204 games.

Retirement: Since his playing days he teaches a youth baseball school with former major leaguer Garth Iorg.