Jul 5, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1962) Gil Hodges Last Career HR Comes In A 10-3 Mets Win

Friday July 6th 1962: On this day Johnny Keane's St. Louis Cardinals (45-37) came to New York's Polo Grounds to play Casey Stengel's Mets (22-57). The Cards sent future Met pitcher; Ray Sadecki (5-5) to the mound against the Mets' Roger Craig (4-11).

In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Gil Hodges came to bat with one out. Thee Brooklyn Dodgers legend, who was  one of the most beloved National League New York ball players ever, was closing out his career back in New York with the Mets. He was brought back for nostalgia as well as being a gate attraction. 

Hodges took Sadecki deep, hitting a HR over the left center field wall. It was his 9th HR of the year putting the Mets up 1-0. But this HR was historic as it was the last Hodges would hit in his fine career. It was HR #370 putting him at tenth on the all time list up to that point. It also put him at first on the National League list for HRs by a right handed batter.

After the game Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner interviewed Hodges on his show Kiners Korner. Ralph reminded the soft spoken slugger, that he had broken the NL Right handed HR record previously held by Kiner himself.

Hodges would play in just eight more games that season & retire in April of 1963. His legend would be made when he returned as Mets manager in 1968 leading to the Amazing Mets World Series win in 1969.

Ralph Kiner- Kiners Korner
As for the rest of the game on July 6th, 1962 the Mets, the Mets would score a rare ten runs beating the Cards 10-3. The 1962 Mets scored double figures in runs just five times.  

Another highlight of the day was in a sloppy 8th inning, where the Cards made two errors & allowed a bunt single, leading to six Mets runs. The runs were high lighted by "Hot Rod" Kanhel's only career grand slam HR. It came off the Cards Bobby Shantz. Kanel would  hit just six career HRs.

The Mets Charlie Neal also hit a HR that day & Felix Mantilla had a two run double, all helping Craig get the complete game win in front of 14,515

The Second Most Winning Manager In Mets History: Willie Randolph (2005-2008)

Willie Larry Randolph was born on July 6, 1954 in Holly Hill, South Carolina.

Randolph grew up in Brooklyn New York, and at age 15 was a fan of the 1969 Amazing New York Mets. He claims his favorite player was another second baseman; Ken Boswell from that ’69 Mets team. Willie would later wear the uniform #12 in honor of Boswell when he was a New York Met.

Randolph attended Samuel Tilden high school in East Flatbush, Brooklyn & was a star baseball player there. In 1972 at the age of 18, he was drafted by the reigning World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round. He rose through the minor leagues reaching AAA by 1975, batting .339 for the Charleston Charlies.

He was called up to the Pirates in late July 1975 and got a hit in his first career game. In just the third game of his young career Willie & the Pirates hosted his favorite childhood team the New York Mets. Willie got a hit in his second at bat off pitcher George Stone.

On the season he would play in 30 games for the N.L. Eastern Champion Pirates, batting just .164. He got two at bats in the NLCS scoring a run against the Big Red Machine. In the off season he was traded along with Doc Ellis & Ken Brett to the A.L. New York team for George "Doc" Medich.

Randolph would play second base for the next thirteen seasons with the A.L. New York club, winning two World Series, & making five All Star teams. He would bat in the second position in the order, being a patient hitter & fine bunter.

He would bat over .280 just four times (twice over .290) but scored 85 or more runs seven times, hit 20 or more doubles eight different seasons, stole thirty or more bases four times & hit double figures in triples twice. He would be in the league's top ten in walks eight times, drawing 80 or more walks seven times. He was also in the top ten in on base % six times in his career.

He played a solid second base, with good range, leading the league in put outs &assists one time each. He led the league in errors three different times & was in the top five percent in fielding three times.

1980 may have been Randolph's best season in New York, as he led the league in walks (119) and was second in on base percentage (.427), eighth in stolen bases (30) and ninth in runs (99), winning the Silver Slugger award at second base. He also batted .332 leading off innings, and hit .340 with men in scoring position.

Post Season: In the 1976 ALCS he was 2-17 (.118) driving in a run against Doug Bird in the Kansas City Royals 7-4 win to tie the series. In the World Series he was 1-15 as the Big Red Machine swept the AL New York team to win their second straight World Series.

In the 1977 ALCS against the Royals he had five hits, driving in two runs. In the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers he only had four hits (.160 average) but three of them were extra base hits.

In game #1 he hit a HR off Don Sutton helping his team to a 4-3 win. He did not play in the 1978 post season due to injuries but hit well over .300 in both the 1980 & 1981 ALCS series’.

After the 1988 season he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent, batting .282 as their main second baseman. The next season he was traded to Oakland for Stan Javier, there he played in 93 games hitting .257.

In 1991 he signed a one year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers & had maybe his best year at the plate ever at the age of 37. He batted .327 (third best in the AL) posting a career high .427 on base % with 141 hits 14 doubles & 75 walks, while batting .373 with runners in scoring position (54 RBIs). In 1992 he signed a one year deal to play out his final season in New York with the Mets.

He was the 1992 Opening Day second baseman, batting in the second spot for Jeff Torborg’s team that would finish in 5th place. Willie would go hitless in his first two games then hit safely in four straight, including a three hit day on April 11th against the Montreal Expos.

On May 19th he would have one of his last big days at the plate, getting three hits with an RBI double. In June he put together a five game hit streak & had five multi hit games in the month. On June 22nd he hit his last career HR, it came at Shea Stadium against the Cubs. Willie would be shut down by the middle of August, but returned to play his final game on the last day of the season.

On that day Jeff Kent who was acquired from Toronto when Randolph went down moved over to short so Randolph could finish his career at second base. That day he went 0-3 but drew a walk in his last plate appearance.

In his 18 year career he batted .276 with 2210 hits (172nd all time) 1243 walks (50th all time) 316 doubles 65 triples 54 HRs 271 stolen bases & 687 RBIs with a .373 on base %.

He played 2152 games at second base (7th all time) with 4859 put outs (9th all time) 6336 assists (10th all time) 254 errors (54th all time) posting a .980 fielding %. One of his best abilities was turning double plays, he turned 1547 (3rd most all time).

Manager: After his playing days he was a coach for eleven seasons with the A.L. New York club & interviewed for manager jobs never landing one. Then in 2005 he was named the 18th manager in the history of the New York Mets, replacing Art Howe.

Randolph had never managed at any level prior to this job but was a respected baseball figure in New York. There was an added excitement at Shea that year with the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran & Pedro Martinez.

His Mets began the year losing their first five games until on April 10th they beat the Atlanta Braves giving Randolph his first managerial win. The team went on to win six straight their biggest streak in two years. The Mets improved to a 83-79 record that season, finishing in a tie for third place with the Florida Marlins, seven games behind the Atlanta Braves. Under Randolph the Mets had improved to over .500 for the first time since 2001 & had won 15 more games than they had the previous season.

In 2006 Willie led the Mets to their first divisional title since 1988, winning 97 games (97-65) with the league’s best record & tying for the best record in baseball. He became the first manager in MLB history to have his team improve with 12 more victories in each of his first two seasons.

His pitching staff was among the top three in the league in most categories (ERA, innings, as well as hits, HRs & earned runs). They were second in strike outs & saves as well as first in shut outs. The '06 Mets were first in the NL in steals, third in runs, doubles, slugging & total bases. The team was fourth in HRs.

Willie’s Mets swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS but fell short by one game getting upset in the NLCS, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Randolph came in second place in the Manager of the Year voting & signed a three year extension on his contract with the Mets.

In 2007 the Mets were riding high in first place most of the year on their way to an 88 win season. But then in the final three weeks of the season it all went bad. They blew a seven game lead with 17 games to play, losing out on the playoffs on the last day of the season. It was one of the worst collapses in baseball history.

In 2008 the Mets picked up where they had left off. They were 34-35 in June, the slow start & poor play got Randolph & coaches Rick Peterson & Tom Nieto fired. At the time the Mets had fallen six games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. Many people felt the firing was done in poor taste by the Wilpons & General Manager Omar Minaya.

After denying any changes in the Mets staff over the past few weeks, Minaya made his announcement of firing Randolph while in Anaheim after a night game. The timing was a surprise to Randolph & the news hit New York late with the East Coast time difference. Randolph was replaced with his bench coach, Jerry Manuel.

In his three year, two & a half month run as Mets manager he posted a 302-253 record with a .544 winning percentage, second to only Davey Johnson.

After his Mets days, he went on to be the bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers for 2009-2010. In 2011 he coached with the Baltimore Orioles under Buck Showalter. Randolph & the O's parted ways after the season.

In 2013 he was the Team USA bench coach in the World Baseball Classic. In 2015 he interviewed for a coaching spot with his old AL New York team, but did not get the job.

Willie has stated he wants to manage in the majors again. He currently works with John Franco helping youth baseball in New York City.

He lives in Franklin Lakes New Jersey, the same town as Dwight Gooden, New York Football Giants; Phil Simms, Harry Carson & Sam Huff as well as many other sports & public figures.

The All Time Mets Single Season Hits Leader: Lance Johnson (1996-1997)

Kenneth Lance Johnson was born July 6, 1963 at Cincinnati, Ohio. The five foot ten, left hand hitting Johnson, first attended the Trinity College, moving to the University of South Alabama. The swift outfielder was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth round of the 1984 draft.

Johnson had a fine minor league career as he matured into a solid ball player. By 1987 he won the AA MVP award with the Louisville Redbirds, batting .333 & stealing 42 bases. The speedy center fielder stole over thirty bases five straight seasons in the minor leagues, including three straight years of forty plus steals. At the time the Cardinals had Willie McGee in center field & had no plans for Johnson, except to trade him.

He was brought up to the 1987 Cardinals Pennant team for 33 games, he then appeared in one game of the NLCS & one game of the World Series loss to the Minnesota Twins. He stole a base in each game, scoring a run as a pinch runner on a Vince Coleman base hit in Game #3 of the World Series. That winter Johnson was traded, along with Ricky Horton, to the Chicago White Sox for Jose DeLeon.

In Chicago he became one of the best centerfielders of that era with speed, range and a strong throwing arm. He was among the top three centerfielders in assists four different times, posting eleven assists in two straight seasons.

His 70 career assists are 74th most on the all time list. He led all centerfielders in errors three times, games played twice & put outs one time each. In 1994, he led the league in fielding with a perfect .1000%. His range was considered the best of all outfielders during the 1992 & 1993 seasons.

Johnson spent eight seasons as the White Sox regular centerfielder, playing in both the old & new Comiskey Parks. Johnson wore the uniform number one and was known to his team mates as “One Dog”. In 1990 he played his first full season, he hit .285 while leading the league in caught stealing (22) times he stole 36 bases & hit nine triples. Over the next four seasons, from 1991-1994 he led the American league in triples each year. He hit 12 or more triples in each of those years & did that for six straight seasons.

During his White Sox years he would bat over .300 three times, while posting good on base percentages. He would steal 25 or more bases six straight seasons, including 30 plus steals three times. He was among the AL's top ten base stealers five straight seasons, excluding 1991. In 1993 he was second on the A.L. Western Champion White Sox club to Frank Thomas hitting .311, while posting 14 triples 18 doubles , 36 stolen bases (6th in the AL) with a .354 on base %.

Post Season: In the 1993 ALCS the White Sox lost the first two games to the Toronto Blue Jays. In Game #3 Johnson singled home two runs in Chicago's five run third inning leading to a 6-1 win. In Game #4 he had a big four hit day including a two run HR off Todd Stottlemyre, to get the scoring started in the 2nd inning. In the 6th inning with Chicago down 3-2, he tripled with two runners on, putting his team ahead for good in the 7-4 victory. The Blue Jays went on to win Game #5 & the World Series as well.

In 1994 the Sox finished in first place again, this time in the newly aligned AL Central, but the baseball strike killed any post seasons hopes. Johnson once again led the league in triples (14) but his average fell to .277.

In 1995 he was back over the .300 mark (.306), leading the league in hits (186) & at bats (607). Johnson had career highs up to that point, in runs scored (117) & RBIs (57), while stealing 40 bases (6th in the AL). During the winter he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets for the 1996 season.

The year ahead looked bright at Shea Stadium, with Johnson aboard in center field, Todd Hundley & Bernard Gilkey in the lineup coming off promising years. And of course the pitching was hopeful, as Generation K ready to take the mound. Unfortunately everything fell apart with the pitching staff & Manager Dallas Green eventually lost his job after going 59-72. He was succeeded by Bobby Valentine as the new era began.

Through it all, Johnson went on to have a career year and one of the best Mets seasons ever at the plate. He set a Mets single season record for hits with an incredible league leading 227. He also set a remarkable feat by becoming the first & only player to lead the league in hits in both leagues.

He also led the league in triples while setting the Mets club record, with 21. Johnson joined company with Stan Musial, Sam Crawford & Willie Wilson as the only players to ever lead the league in triples different five times. He became only the fourth player since 1947 to have over 20 triples, and his 21 were the highest mark since 1951.

He came in fourth in the NL batting race, hitting .333; while posting a .363 on base % (second on the club to Gilkey). Johnson stole 50 bases (second most in the league) while only getting caught 12 times. It was the most stolen bases by a Mets player, since Mookie Wilsons 54 in 1983.

The previous year (the '94 strike year) the Mets Bret Butler had led the team with 21. Johnson scored 117 runs (tenth in the NL) which were also a Mets single season record until Eduardo Alfonzo broke it, three seasons later. 

Johnson hit 31 doubles & played 160 games as the Mets leadoff man, setting a club mark (later broken by Jose Reyes). He also led the league in at bats (682) & plate appearances (724) posting a .363 on base %.

Johnson debuted on Opening Day 1996 going 1-4 batting leadoff & playing centerfield in the Mets 7-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit in his first three games, then went on an eight game hit streak a few days later. In the month of April he had eleven multi hit games & scored 18 runs. In early May he had 16 hits over a six game stretch, also hitting his second HR of the year. On May 3rd, he stole three bases in a 4-2 loss against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He then hit safely in 14 of 15 games & had 13 multiple hit games that month to raise his average above .300. 

On June 4th, he had a four hit day in Atlanta, with a two run triple during a 12-6 Mets win. On June 17th he led the team to a win in Pittsburgh, as he hit a three run HR off the Pirates Esteban Loaiza.

Johnson then hit safely in 19 of 22 games to close out the month. On July 5th, he broke a 6-6 tie in the 8th inning at Montreal, by getting a base hit to drive in Chris Jones & Carl Everett for the eventual game winning runs. The next day, he had three hits while driving in three more runs in the 11-3 win over the Expos.

Lance Johnson was the National Leagues starting centerfielder, in the All Star Game played at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. He led off the game with a double, off Cleveland's Charles Nagy & scored the first run of the game on a Barry Bonds groundout. Johnson would have two more hits before the night was through, as he played the entire game. It was a proud moment for him & a fine representation for a New York Met.

After the break he picked up where he had left off. On July 17th, he tied up a game at Shea, against the Philadelphia Phillies, with a single to left field scoring Rey Ordonez. The Mets went on to win it 3-2 on a Butch Huskey walk off HR.

Throughout that month he kept his average above .310, while a 13 game hit steak in August got him up to .320. On August 7th, he hit two HRs in an 11-7 win at Wrigley Field, as he had yet another four hit day. In August he had 14 multi hit games, as he continued to do it all, stealing bases, scoring runs driving in runs & hitting.

On September 1st, Johnson doubled, tripled & singled, driving in two runs in a ten inning, Mets 6-5 win over the San Francisco Giants. After driving in runs in two straight games, on September 14th Johnson hit a walk off base hit against the Braves Joe Borowski, in the bottom of the 12th inning. He hit safely in 24 out of 26 games in the final month, to raise his average up another eleven points, overall closing out the year hitting safely in 40 of his last 43 games. In twenty four games throughout the season, he had at least three hits in a game, including four different four hit games.

Defensively he led the league in put outs (391) made nine outfield assists (3rd best in the league) while posting a .971 fielding percentage, making 12 errors in 412 chances.

In 1997 he began the year just where he left off, starting in centerfield batting leadoff & getting a hit in the 12-5 Mets loss.

He began the year with a six game hit streak, hitting safely in 12 of 14 games. On April 15th, he drove in four runs of the Mets five runs, in an Armando Reynoso 5-0 shutout over the L.A. Dodgers. He then missed all of May & half of June with an injury, returning on the 16th. On June 22nd, he had a four hit day, with a HR at Shea Stadium in a 12-9 win against the Pirates, He got himself over the .300 mark going into early August.

On August 4th he hit a pair of triples driving in two runs, including the game winner in the 5th inning, leading the Mets past the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2, as Rick Reed picked up his tenth win of the year, his sixth win in a row. Then four days later on August 8th, after 72 games he was batting .309 with 6 triples & 15 stolen bases, but he got traded to the Chicago Cubs for Turk Wendell, Brian McRae, & Mel Rojas. (The Mets later sent along Manny Alexander & Mark Clark).

Johnson hit .303 the rest of the way but got slowed up by injuries as his career began to wind down from there. He spent two more seasons in Chicago, teamed up again in the outfield with his former White Sox sidekick Sammy Sosa. By this point, Sosa was a superstar chasing Mark McGwire for the single season HR record. Johnson finished off his career in 2000 with the A.L. New York team playing in just eight games.

Retirement: After his playing days he & his wife moved back to Alabama, where he had gone to college. Johnson has the rare distinction of playing for both New York & both Chicago baseball teams.

In his 14 season playing career, Johnson played in 1447 games batting .291, with 1565 hits, 117 triples (103rd all time) 175 doubles 34 HRs 486 RBIs and 327 stolen bases (130th all time).

In centerfield he posted a .983 fielding % with 70 assists (74th all time) making 62 errors in 3638 chances. He played in 1327 games in center (44th most all time).

Jul 4, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (2004) Richard Hidalgo Sets Club Mark Homering In Five Straight Games

On June 18th, Richard Hidalgo came over to the Mets from the Houston Astros in exchange for Jeremy Griffiths & David Weathers.

Although his stay in New York was brief, he made his spot in Mets history, setting a club record by homering in five straight games.

Before his streak, he had hit three HRs in his first ten Mets games.

On July 1st, 2004 Art Howe's Mets (38-39) were at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to face Dave Miley's Reds (42-36).

In this game Al Leiter pitched seven shut out innings giving up just two hits. He left with a 4-0 lead but reliever Ricky Bottalico gave up five quick runs in just 0.2 of an inning pitched.

The Mets had three other HRs on the night, hit by Eric Valent, Shane Spencer & Jose Reyes. In the 8th, Hidalgo hit a solo HR, his first in his club record setting streak. It was also the game winning run as the Mets squeaked out a 7-6 victory.

The next three were against the AL New York team, as the Mets swept the inter league subway series at Shea Stadium. In the 1st game on Friday night, Hidalgo led the charge hitting a two run HR off Mike Mussina in the 5th inning, his 9th of the year. Hidalgo already had an RBI double earlier in the game. That night Kaz Matsui hit two HRs & drove in five runs. The Mets went on to an 11-2 victory.

On Saturday afternoon Hidalgo hit a HR off Jose Contreras, for his third straight game with a HR. Also on this day, Cliff Floyd & Ty Wiggington also homered. It was a wild 10-9 Mets win, as 34 different players were used in a four hour sub way series epic.

Sunday- Independence Day, July 4th. The Mets used five pitchers as the AL New York club used four in another tight game. Tonight was Ty Wiggington's night as he was having himself a hell of a series. He hit two HRs including one in the bottom of the 8th which was the game winner.

As for Richard Hidalgo he had hit his fourth straight game where he hit a HR, his came in the home 7th, a game tying solo shot off Felix Heredia. Wiggy hit two, including the game winner in the bottom of the 8th inning.

After a successful weekend, the Mets went to Philadelphia on Monday July 5th to face the first place Phillies. Tonight Hidalgo wasted no time, hitting a 1st inning HR off Paul Abbot to set the Mets club record of hitting a HR in five straight games.

Two nights later, Hidalgo tripled in the Mets first run & then the games go ahead run, helping Al Leiter to a 4-1 win, getting the Mets within two games of first place. Since coming to the Mets, Hidalgo was hitting .348 (23-for-66) with 8 HRs & 15 RBIs in 17 games.

Hidalgo would end the season with 25 HRs (21 of them as a Met) & 82 RBIs but only hit for a .239 average. After a hot June/July streak, he cooled off considerably and the Mets did not resign him for 2005. He finished out his career in Texas hitting 16 HRs with a .221 average in 2005.

Former Mets Outfielder: Angel Pagan (2008-2011)

Angel Anthony Pagan was born July 2, 1981 in Rio Piedra, Puerto Rico. The six foot two, switch hitting Pagan nicknamed Crazy Horse, was originally signed by the New York Mets in the fourth round of the 1999 draft.

In 2001 he led the New York Penn. League in stolen bases with 30 (tied) while playing for the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones. In Brooklyn he hit .315 making the All Star team & being ranked the #16 prospect in the league by Baseball America.

In 2002 Pagan stole 52 bases while batting .279 with the A ball, St. Lucie Mets. The next season he struggled with an off year, but rebounded in 2004 now at AA Binghamton.

He hit .288 with 29 stolen bases, only getting thrown out five times. In 2005 he hit ten triples, stole 27 bases & batted .271 while playing outfield for the AAA Norfolk Tides. He did not get a call up to the Mets team which surprised him & that off season had his contract bought out by the Chicago Cubs.

He made the Cubs squad in 2006, but an injury early on shut him down until the end of June. On July 2nd he became the first player in MLB history to hit his first two career HRs on his own birthday, his 25th. The HRs came at Wrigley Field off Cliff Polite, in a 15-11 slug fest with the cross town rival Chicago White Sox during interleague play. In 77 games that season, he hit .247 with five HRs 18 RBIs & four stolen bases.

In 2007 he became the Cubs everyday outfielder, but he suffered from colitis & his season was cut short once again. In 71 games he batted .264 with 4 HRs 10 doubles four stolen bases & 21 RBIs. In January of 2008, the Cubs traded him back to the New York Mets for two minor leaguers.

After a good Spring Training in 2008, he earned a spot in left field filling in for the injured Moises Alou. Pagan was in the Mets '08 Opening Day lineup batting 6th & playing left field. He hit a double & drove in a run in the Mets 7-2 win over the Marlins at Florida. He had a hot start, hitting safely in eleven of his first twelve games, driving in runs in seven of them.

On April 10th, his 12th inning base hit off the Phillies Tom Gordon, was a walk off win for New York. In mid May he caught a foul ball jumping & landing in the seats at Dodger Stadium. A few days later he ended up on the DL, and then reinjured himself while attempting to make a return.

Pagan needed shoulder surgery was shut down for the rest of the season. He finished up the year with a .275 average, no HRs, seven doubles, no steals & 13 RBIs in only 31 games played.

In 2009 he started out the season on the DL once again, this time with bone spurs. He finally joined the team in mid May. In his third game back, he had a four hit day in Los Angeles in a 3-2 Met loss & then went on a hot streak.

Pagan was batting .333 after two weeks upon his return, but then pulled a groin muscle and missed the next six weeks of action. He returned on July 10th & stayed in the lineup for the rest of the year, seeing regular playing time due to all the other team injures.

On August 1st he hit a grand slam HR, helping the Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-6 at Citi Field. During that week he hit another HR & had a three hit, four RBI day against the St. Louis Cardinals.

On August 23rd at Philadelphia, he hit an inside the park HR & then another, HR over the fence, against former Mets pitcher, Pedro Martinez. Pagan got his average to .294 by the end of the month.

He went on ten game hit streak & had thirteen multiple hit games that September.

He finished the year leading the team in triples with ten. He batted .306 with 22 doubles 14 stolen bases 6 HRs 32 RBIs & a .350 on base %. He played a solid defense as well, making only two errors in the outfield, posting a .989 fielding percentage.

On Opening Day 2010 Pagan was not in the lineup, as Gary Mathews Jr. got the start. But his stay in New York was brief & Pagan soon took over the outfield. He saw a lot of action, as he filled in for the injured Carlos Beltran who would not return until mid summer.

Pagan was soon one of the Mets best hitters, especially with runners in scoring position. He became one of the league’s biggest base stealing threats & played a fine outfield as well.

In April he had four multi RBI games, but was only hitting .257 at the end of April. In May he went on a hot streak, as he hit safely in 22 of 27 games getting up to a .292 average. On May 19th in a 5-3 loss at Washington, Pagan hit an inside the park HR off Livan Hernandez. He then started a rare triple play with a catch in centerfield & throw to the plate nailing Livan Hernandez at home. From there catcher Henry Blanco, threw out Nyjer Morgan at first.

On June 16th, During interleague play, Pagan helped Johan Santana to an 8-4 win over the Tribe in Cleveland with two hits & a three RBI day.

Two days later, he doubled off Chan Ho Park, driving in two runs, helping the Mets & pitchers Hisanori Takahasshi (six innings) Pedro Feliciano (two innings) & Francisco Rodriguez (one inning) to a 4-0 shutout win in the subway series. Then the next week when the Detroit Tigers came to town, he had a four hit day driving in four runs in the Mets 14-6 win.

By the All Star break he was leading the team in batting, hitting .315. When Beltran returned, Pagan took over right field for the departed Jeff Francouer. After the break he hit HRs in back to back losses to the D-backs in Arizona, as he also drove in runs in four straight games.

By the end of July he was batting a season high .313. On a September home stand he had twelve hits; including a three game stretch against the Pittsburgh Pirates where he had eight hits drove in seven runs. On September 14th he hit three doubles in a game& walked three times as well.

He finished the year batting .294 with 37 stolen bases (second in the NL). He also hit 11 HRs with seven triples (8th in the NL) 31 doubles & 69 RBIs. In the outfield he led all centerfielders in errors (10) but was 3rd in put outs (129) & his ten assists were third most among all outfielders.

In 2011 with Carlos Beltrans health being an issue once again, Pagan was given the starting centerfield job by new manager Terry Collins. He had a slow start batting just .159 when he went down with an injury on April 21st. He missed over a month of action, returning to the line up on May 27th at Citi Field.

He went on an eight game hitting streak, hitting safely in 13 of 14 while raising his average eighty five points by the end of June.

On July 20th, he hit a walk off HR against Fernando Salas, to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5. The previous day he had a bases loaded double, helping the Mets to a 5-3 victory.

 That week he drove in runs in nine of thirteen games. At the end of July the Mets went on a four game win streak, sweeping the Reds in a three game series, with Pagan driving in runs in all four games. In August he had a ten game hit streak & then hit safely in eight of ten games.

On August 17th, he had a two hit, three RBI day to help New York beat the Padres 7-3 in San Diego. Pagan had a decent month of September finishing up the year for the fourth place Mets, batting .320 with 7 HRs 24 doubles 4 triples 32 stolen bases a .322 on base % & 56 RBIs in 123 games.

In the outfield he led all centerfielders in errors with ten while making seven assists (5th in the NL).

In December 2011 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Andres Torres & Ramon Ramirez. With the 2012 World Champion Giants he became the teams main centerfielder replacing Torres who never quite made it in New York. Pagan went on to lead the NL with 15 triples, batting .288 with 38 doubles 8 HRs & 56 RBIs. In center he made five errors with seven assists & 377 put outs all second most in the league.

The Angel Pagan Salute: His dedicated style of play quickly led to him becoming a popular player in San Francisco. His team mates respected his style of play & when they rooted for him, he started the now famous Angel Pagan Salute.

Quotes: "Every time I get on base my teammates cheer for me, so by doing that I'm thanking them," Pagan said. "And it's also a way to commemorate my dad (Angel Sr.), may he rest in peace. He spent a lot of years in the army, and he taught me how to be a respectful person. So that salute has a lot of meaning for me."

Post Season: In the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, he hit just .150 but did have two key hits. In Game #3 he tied the game with a third inning sac fly, the Giants went on to a 2-1 win.

In the next game he hit a two run HR in the Giants 8-3 win, as they tied the series. In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit another HR & batted .242 with a pair of RBIs.

In the World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers Pagan hit .125. In Game #1 he hit a soft liner that bounced off the third base bag, getting him a double off Justin Verlander, he then scored on Marco Scutaro' double. In the off season he signed a four year deal to remain with the Giants.

In 2013 he was batting .262 before going on the DL in late May. Just before going on the DL, he became the first player in nine years to end the game with a walk off inside the park HR. It came in extra innings against the Colorado Rockies on May 25th.

Pagan returned two months later on August 30th. He finished the year batting .282 with 5 HRs 16 doubles & 30 RBIs.

In 2014 he was back as the staring center fielder with the World Champion Giants who won their third Championship in five years . He missed two months of time from June to early August with injuries & then went down again in mid September which caused him to miss the entire post season. He batted .300 in 96 games with 21 doubles & 56 runs scored.

In his ten year career through mid June 2015, Pagan is a .284 hitter with 935 hits 184 doubles 50 triples 49 HRs & 336 RBIs.

Family: Angels is a dedicated family man, he & his wife have two daughters.

Late Eighties / Early Nineties Sidearmed Mets Reliever: Jeff Innis (1988-1993)

Jeffery Davd Innis was born on July 5th, 1962 in Decatur, Illinois. While attending the University of Illinois, he was drafted in the 13th round of the 1983 draft by the New York Mets. 

The six foot one, right hander Innis was a submarine style pitcher that threw two different type curve balls. Innis was groomed as a reliever in the minor leagues, saving 25 games at AA Jackson in 1986, as the big league club was winning the World Series.

In 1987 he was brought up to an injury ridden Mets pitching staff in mid May. In his first outing at Shea Stadium he took a loss after allowing a run in the top of the 10th inning against the San Francisco Giants. It would be his only decision on the year, pitching in 17 games, posting a 3.16 ERA and going back to AAA Tidewater in August. 

There he finished the year at 6-1 with a 2.03 ERA with 28 strike outs in 44 innings.

In 1988 he began the season with the club, after a good Spring Training. On April 24th he allowed three runs through the 5th & 7th innings taking a loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis. He earned his first career victory on June 4th, beating the Chicago Cubs in two innings of late relief. A week later, although he had a 1.89 ERA after 19 innings pitched in 12 games, he was sent back down to Tidewater where he struggled going 0-5 the rest of the year.

The lifetime middle reliever would spend seven seasons with the Mets & became known for racking up innings. He would lead the club in appearances for three years straight from 1991 through 1993.

In 1991 after going 0-2, he went into the record books by setting a strange MLB record. Innis appeared in over 60 games of relief, without earning a win or a save.

In 1992 he earned the win on Opening Day in St. Louis in relief of David Cone, when Bobby Bonilla hit a 10th inning game winning HR. That season Innis set a club record making 76 appearances (later broken by Turk Wendell) which was fifth most in the league. On the season he was 6-9 with 16 holds to his credit & one save. He posted a solid 2.86 ERA out of the Mets bull pen.

In 1993, he returned again, to make 67 appearances, going 2-3 with three saves & a 4.11 ERA. By 1994 the Mets lost interest in him & he went to the Minnesota Twins signing as a free agent. But Innis never pitched for the Twins big league staff & retired after spending two seasons in the minor leagues.

After a seven year MLB career, Innis was 10-20 with five saves. He struck out 192 batters, walking 121 in 360 innings pitched while posting a 3.05 ERA in 288 appearances. At the plate he came to bat 12 times and never reached first base.

Former Italian / American Slugger: Rick Lancellotti (1978-1993)

Richard Anthony Lancellotti was born on July 5, 1956 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Italian American Lancellotti would play in just parts of three seasons in the major leagues in just 36 games. But the big six foot three, left handed slugger won five HR titles in the minor leagues & Japan combined. He also won an RBI title & drove in over 100 runs three times.

The outfielder / first baseman, was first drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of the 1977 draft. In 1979 he was the Eastern League MVP hitting 41 HRs with 107 RBIs, leading the league in both categories while at AA Buffalo. In 1980 he hit 21 HRs between AA & an AAA promotion.

Lancelotti made his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres in 1982, but he only hit .179 in 17 games & was sent back down. In 1984 his 131 RBIs were the best in the league.

Just before the 1985 season was to begin, Lancellotti was traded to the New York Mets organization for Rusty Tillman. At AAA Tidewater he hit 10 HRs in 91 games, but only batted .180 and was traded once again.

In 1986 he led the Pacific Coast League in HRs (31) & drove in 131 runs. He was promoted to the San Francisco Giants where he hit the only two HRs of his MLB career, batting .222 in 15 games. His first came in Atlanta off the Braves Jeff Dedmon in a 8-2 Giants win. The second came in Cincinnati off Ron Robinson in a 6-5 loss to the Reds.

The next two seasons he went to play in Japan with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He won another HR title there, hitting 39 round trippers in 1987 and 58 over the two seasons. But his average was a poor .207.

He accused his manager of trying to lose games, by not using pinch hitters late in the game, the manager did not return the next season. He went to the Japanese media with the story, and the team threatened not to pay him. He was eventually paid off to say it was all a misunderstanding.

He got out of Japan & went to the short lived Senior Professional League, where he won another HR title. He went back to the minors playing for AAA Pawtucket, after hitting 10 HRs was promoted to the 1990 Red Sox for four games, going 0-8.

In 1991 he won his fifth title, this one at AAA Pawtucket with 21. At the time a Boston Globe reporter made a huge error, writing in his column that Lancelloti had broken the all time minor league HR record.

He made the celebrity circuit appearing on CNN television, had an article written on him in Sports Illustrated & USA Today news paper. Amazingly, no one checked out the actual record, as everyone assumed the record was 255 HRs, which was used in the movie Bull Durham. In reality he is well over 100 HRs away from even being in that top ten.

In 1992 Lancelloti went to Italy playing in the Serie 1 baseball league, for the Cariparma Angels. "It was a nice way to go out. They only played twice a week, practiced for about an hour on three days, and gave us the other two days off." He also said he loved the food.

Retirement: Lancelloti retired in 1993 with 276 HRs 984 RBIs 241 doubles 37 triples 888 strike outs & a .252 average in 1536 minor league games over 15 seasons. He now runs a baseball school in Buffalo, New York & was inducted into the Buffalo, Hall of Fame.

In 1995 he told The Sporting News "the union doesn't care about minor league guys...guys are trying to make a living down here. Why couldn't they cut 1 percent off the major league salaries and distribute it to minor leaguers?....How many swimming pools do you need?"