Jan 10, 2016

Mid Sixties Mets Outfielder: Danny Napoleon (1965-1966)

Daniel Napoleon was born January 11, 1942 in Claysburg, Pennsylvania. The five foot eleven right handed hitter, was raised outside of Southern New Jersey.

He then played baseball at Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey. After attending Ryder University he was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1964. That year he hit .351 with 36 HRs and was named Rookie of the Year in the NY Penn League. He was scouted as a strong armed outfielder with power.

In 1965 he made the Mets club out of Spring Training, making his d├ębut in the second game of the season as an 11th inning pinch hitter against the Houston Colt 45's. He donned the uniform number 16 the same year Dwight Gooden was born. Napoleon came to bat after Ron Swoboda had just hit a HR, he followed with a base hit in his first career at bat & scored a run on Cleon Jones' base hit. The Mets took a 10-7 loss the Colt 45's that day.

In just his third career at bat had his brightest moment in the big leagues, it came at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. Napoleon hit a game winning pinch hit triple off the Giants Bob Shaw, earning manager Casey Stengel his 3000th career victory.

Napoleon had another good day on May 9th 1965, coming in as a pinch hitter starting out with a base hit. He remained in the game, got another hit to have one of two career multiple hit games. Napoleon was used mostly as a pinch hitter & pinch runner in his rookie year of 1965.

On July 4th he had an RBI pinch hit single in the 9th inning, driving in the only run of the Mets 6-1 loss to the Cardinals. He played in 15 games in left field, posting a .941 fielding %. He also saw action in seven games at third base, appearing in 68 games overall.

He was sent to AAA Buffalo in August where he hit .274 with one HR in 30 games, getting called back up in September. On the year he only batted .144 with one double, seven RBIs, & no stolen base attempts while striking out 23 times.

He spent the next season in the minors at AAA Jackson, hitting .261 with 15 HRs & 53 RBIs getting a September call up on September 9th, 1966. He enjoyed a four game hit streak, while hitting safely in six of eight games on a Houston/ Cincinnati road trip.

Overall he batted .212 (7-33) with two doubles, two runs scored & no RBIs while striking out ten times.

On April 1, 1967 he was traded with Eddie Bressoud to the St. Louis Cardinals for three players, Jerry Buchek, Art Mahaffey and Tony Martinez. Napoleon never appeared at the major league level again.

Passing: He passed away in Trenton, New Jersey in April of 2003 at age 61.

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