Nov 2, 2014

2000 NL Champion Mets Utility Player: Mark Johnson (2000-2002)

Mark Patrick Johnson, was born on October 18, 1967, in Worcester, Massachusetts. The big six foot 230 pounder attended Dartmouth University playing football there at quarterback.

He was also a gifted baseball player, getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990. His minor league career didn’t take off until 1994 when he hit 23 HRs with 85 RBIs at AA Carolina.

Johnson joined the Pirates team in 1995 batting just .208 in 79 games, but in 221 at bats he hit 13 HRs. In 1996 he became the Pirates main first baseman playing in 127 games; he hit 13 HRs again but had 343 at bats this year. He hit 24 doubles driving in 47 runs posting a .345 on base % batting .274.

Over the next two seasons he only appeared in ten games at the major league level. He was placed on waivers, picked by the Cincinnati Reds then sent to the Anaheim Angels. He also played one season in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers in 1999. In 2000 he was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets. He joined the club in May and debuted as a pinch hitter on May 16th at Shea Stadium against the Colorado Rockies.

He got his first start on May 19th batting 7th & playing left field in game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the 4th inning he drove in his first run grounding out as Robin Ventura scored. On June 26th after not playing for a month he hit a HR against Florida Marlins raising his average to just .200. He remained on the club through the end of July when he was sent to AAA Norfolk after batting just .182. He did not make the post season roster.

He began the 2001 season with the club but after five games in April was sent back down. He returned in early June and hit a three run HR in an interleague game at Tampa Florida. Two days later he hit another during the series finale in Tampa.

On the same road trip he drove in two more runs, at Baltimore but went hitless in three games of the subway series. On July 14th he hit a two run HR driving in both runs helping Glendon Rusch in the Mets 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.

One of his career highlights came in Pittsburgh on September 17th in the first game played after the 911 attacks. Johnson came to bat as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning after Rey Ordonez had singled to put the Mets ahead. Johnson doubled to right field just missing a HR, driving in Jay Payton & Ordonez as the Mets won the game 4-1.

In the first game played back in New York on the night Mike Piazza hit his famous 911 HR, Johnson appears on the scorecard but never came to bat, as he never stepped up to the plate after his announcement. In 71 games that season Johnson batted .254 with 6 HRs 6 doubles & 23 RBIs, posting a .338 on base %. He played 21 games at first base & 19 games in the outfield.

He returned for his third season with the Mets in 2002 playing in 42 games but after batting just .137 he was sent to AAA Norfolk in early june. He finished out the year there batting .259 with 14 HRs & 37 RBIs.

In his seven year career Johnson batted .232 with 229 hits 38 HRs 50 doubles 154 walks 137 RBIs & a .338 on base %.

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