Brooklyn Born- 1999 New York Mets Wild Card Champion Utility Player: Shawon Dunston (1999)

Shawon Donnell Dunston was born March 21, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, the same school as Danny Kaye, Shelly Winters, Riddick Bowe & Grandpa Al Lewis had all gone too.

Dunston was a slick fielding short stop with a strong throwing arm, getting drafted in the first round (the number one pick overall) for the Chicago Cubs in 1982. In the rookie league he batted .321 then moved up to A ball where he would bat .310 in the mid western league. He made the jump right through to AAA the next year & made his MLB debut in 1985.

He would spend eleven years in Chicago making two All Star teams, working as a double play partner with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. In his first full season he led the NL in errors at short (32) while also leading in assists (465) & put outs (320). Two seasons later he stole 30 bases for the first time in his career. He would steal a career high 32 in 1997 (9th in the league) & steal 20 or more bases five times overall.

He hit a career high 17 HRs twice (1986 & 1990) while driving in 60 or more runs four times. His batting average seemed to get better as his career moved ahead, in 1995 his last year in Chicago (the first time around) he batted .296 playing in 127 games.

In 1996 he signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent & batted .300 for the first time in his career playing a full season. He had batted .315 in an injury ridden 1992 season (19 games). The next year he signed back with the Cubs & was traded to the Pirates where he once again hit .300 overall on the season.

Over the next two years he would pack his bags quite often, playing for Cleveland, San Francisco, St. Louis & then the New York Mets. At this point in his career he had primarily become an outfielder, leaving the short stop position. He arrived in New York on July 31st, 1999 going to the Cardinals in exchange for Craig Paquette.

He was happy to be playing in his hometown, for the team he had rooted for while growing up in Brooklyn. He debuted the next day entering the game in the 3rd inning in Milwaukee. He got two hits & an RBI,  in the Mets 7-2 win over the Brewers. 

The next day he made his first start & had three hits with another RBI in the Mets 10-3 victory. Dunston hit well with the Mets playing in 22 games that August, having six multiple hit games. He raised his average to .317 at the end of the month. 

On August 30th, Dunston entered the game in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter, getting a base hit to bring home a run. The next inning he doubled scoring Benny Agbayani & Edgardo Alfonzo in the Mets 17-1 win over the Astros in Houston.  On September 12th he had another multi RBI game, driving in three runs in a 10-3 win in Los Angeles. He played in 42 games for the 1999 Wild Card winning Mets, batting .344 with six doubles 16 RBIs 4 stolen bases & 12 runs scored.

Post Season: In the 1999 NLDS against the Arizona Diamond Backs, he got the start in centerfield in Game #1 going 1-3 being pulled for a pinch hitter late in the game. Overall he went hitless in the next three games as a pinch hitter. In Game #1 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, he reached on an error as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning scoring a run on Todd Pratt’s base hit off John Rocker.

He went hitless as a pinch hitter in the next two games & then appeared in the marathon Game #5 at Shea Stadium. In the bottom of the 15th inning he lead off with a walk & scored the tying run on Todd Pratts base hit, setting the stage for Robin Ventura’s grand slam single. Overall in the post season he was 2-13 with a stolen base & a run scored.

In the 2000 season he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals batting .250 & appearing in his second straight post season. In the NLCS he faced off against his old Mets team mates, going 2-6 with a double & a run scored. Dunston played out his last two season with the San Francisco Giants retiring in 2002.

In his 18 year career he batted .296 with 1597 hits 292 doubles 62 triples 150 HRs 668 RBIs 212 stolen bases & a .296 on base %. 

In 1363 games at short stop he posted a .967 fielding % making 205 errors in 6223 chances. He also played 242 games in the outfield, 25 games at second, 11 games at third & 16 games at first,

Retirement: Dunston works as a special assistant for the San Francisco Giants & resides in Freemont California.


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