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Showing posts from February, 2016

The Story of the New York Mets Logo

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On November 16, 1961 cartoonist Ray Gotto (1916-2003) unveiled the circular New York Mets logo, a symbol which has virtually gone unchanged since its birth 55 years ago. Gatto was the illustrator of the "Ozark Ike" & "Cotton Woods" comic strips as well as having drawn many classic sports cartoons for the Sporting News. He won a contest that the club sponsored in order to start up a fan base beating out over 500 other entries for his design. The prize was not only to have his logo used but also $1000.  Artist Ray Gotto The original New York Mets team colors are blue and orange, the colors represent the two former National League teams who left New York for the West Coast. The orange represents the former New York Giants & the blue represents the Brooklyn Dodgers. Blue & orange are also the official colors of New York State. T he logo design is a round baseball with orange stitching and the Mets orange script lettering outlined in white ac

Brooklyn's First Ball Park: The Union Grounds (1862-1883)

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A long time ago, prior to the Civil War, in the very early days of baseball, ballparks like the Elysian Fields in Hoboken were wide open picturesque landscapes. There were no fences & no need to keep people away. They didn't even think about charging people to watch the events, especially since players did not get paid. So the more people that came the more welcome they were. That slowly started to change by the late 1850's. By the 1860's ice skating was all the craze & elaborate balls for dancing on the ice while skating were held. On the corners of Marcy  & Rutledge Streets in  Williamsburgh, Brooklyn the Union Skating Ground was such a place. Owner William Cammeyer saw the opportunity to get in on the growing popularity of baseball matches. (He owned a team that was already playing in Hoboken). A baseball facility was built for $60,000 (around $1.5 million in todays money) . Cammeyer contributed $20,000 & raised the other $40,000 in bonds. The maj

Late Nineties Mets Prospect & Short Time Player: Terrence Long (1999)

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T errence Deon Long was born on February 29, 1976 in Montgomery, Alabama. Long was the New York Mets first round draft pick in 1994 (20th pick overall) getting selected right out of high school. The outfielder remained in A ball for four years before making to AA Binghamton in 1998. There he hit .297 with 23 stolen bases, 16 HRs & 58 RBIs.  Long went to Mets Spring Training in 1999 & made the team after having a good run. He would make three appearances as a pinch hitter as a New York Met, going 0-3. He was sent to AAA Norfolk, where he batted .326 with 7 HRs 20 doubles & 47 RBIs playing in 78 games.  Then in July he was traded to The Oakland A’s for veteran pitcher Kenny Rodgers. Rodgers helped the Mets win the 1999 wild card race, going 5-1 with a shutout & two complete games. But he had a bad post season, going 0-2 & walking in the winning run of Game #6 of the NLCS in Atlanta.   Terrence Long went on to make his debut in Oakland the next year, as the tea

1970's Italian / American Pitcher: Steve Mingori (1970-1979)

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Steven Bernard Mingori was born on Leap year, 1944 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was a star player at his local Rockhurst high school, having his number retired there. The five foot ten left hander went to Pittsburgh University and got signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1965. After posting ERA’s under thee for three straight seasons in the minors, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians organization in 1970.    The crafty left hander was tough on right handed hitters especially when he threw his famous screwball. Mingori debuted with Cleveland in August 1970, getting his first win against the Detroit Tigers on September 15th. The next year he posted a 1.43 ERA in 56 innings pitched, making 54 appearances as a middle reliever. He then struggled in 1972 putting up am 0-6 record with a 3.95 ERA. In June 1973 he was traded to his home town to pitch for the Kansa s City Royals as a middle reliever. He went 3-3 with a save that year, and even got a rare start on the last day of the

Early Nineties Mets Pitcher: Tony Castillo (1991)

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Antonio Jose (Jimenez) Castillo was born March 1, 1963 at Quibor, Lara, Venezuela. The five foot ten left hander, was originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1983. In his years at the A ball level he switched over to being a relief pitcher. He posted a best 14 saves in 1988 at playing at A ball Dunedin & AA Knoxville. Castillo debuted in the majors with the Blue Jays in 1988 appearing in 14 games, earning his first career win against the Texas Rangers that September. He was back & forth from the minors up to the majors through 1993, getting traded to the Atlanta Braves along with Francisco Cabrerra for Jim Acker. Cabrerra is forever famous for getting the game winning walk off base hit in the 1992 NLCS Game #7, scoring Atlanta's Sid Bream. Castillo pitched parts of three seasons with the Braves going 5-1 with a save in 1990 while posting a 4.23 ERA in 52 appearances. On August 28th, he was traded to the New York Mets, with a player to be named later (Joe Roa) fo

The First Brooklyn Cyclone Player To Make the Mets Big League Club: Brain Bannister (2006)

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Brian Patrick Bannister was born on February 28, 1981 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is the son of former big leaguer Floyd Bannister, who pitched in the majors for 15 seasons, with the Houston Astros (1977-1978) Seattle Mariners (1979-1982), Chicago White Sox (1983-1987) & Kansas City Royals (1988-1989) going 134-143 lifetime with a 4.06 ERA.    Floyd had double figures in victories for seven straight seasons, including two 16 win seasons with the White Sox in the eighties. In 1982 while pitching for the Mariners, Bannister led the AL in strike outs (209) going 12-13 pitching 247 innings (8th in the AL) posting a 3.43 ERA (8th in the AL). Bannister was a good strikeout pitcher, having the best strike out per nine inning ratio in 1983 & 1985. He was in the league's top ten in strike outs five times, finishing his career with 1723 (108th all time). He was also in the top ten in ERA three times. In his career he also allowed 291 strike outs (53rd most all time).  Brian

Late 2000's Mets Reserve Catcher: Gustavo Molina (2008)

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Gustavo Eduardo Molina was born February 24, 1982 in La Guaira, Vargas Venezuela. The six foot one catcher, was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 2000 at age 18. Molina played six years at the A ball & Rookie leaguye levels before getting to AA in 2006.  In 2007 he began the year with the Sox big league team, playing ten games as a pinch hitter or late inning replacement at catcher. In mid May he was sent back to AAA Charlotte getting put on waivers in July. He was selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles returning to the big leagues as a September call up. He hit .111 in 27 at bats that season.  In December 2007 he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent. Molina would play just two games for the Mets, making his debut on April 26th, 2008. He was one of five catchers used by the Mets that season, including main back stop Brian Schneider (110 games), Ramon Castro (52 games), Raul Casanova (20 games) & Robinson Cancel (27 games).  Molina was behind the pl

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: JJ Putz (2009)

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Joseph Jason Putz was born February 22, 1977 in Trenton, Michigan. The tall six foot five right hander, attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor going on to pitch in the major leagues with a long line of other Wolverines. In his college days he shared a dorm with New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. Putz was drafted three different times, lastly by the Seattle Mariners in the 6th round of the 1999 draft. In the minors he was mostly a starting pitcher, switching to a reliever in 2003 when he saved 11 games in 41 appearances. Putz debuted in 2003 with a good fastball at around 97 mph. Over the next two years he became a middle reliever behind closer Eddie Guardado, going 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 2005. That year Guardado taught him to throw a split finger fast ball & it changed Putz into a much better pitcher. He took over the Mariners closer role in 2006 & saved 36 games (6th in the league) going 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA. The following year he was spectacular, le

Former Italian / American Pitcher Who Later Threw Mets Batting Practice: John Valentinetti (1954-1959)

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Vito John Valentinetti was born on September 16, 1928 in West New York, New Jersey. He grew up in his later years in Mount Vernon, New York just outside the Bronx.  Valentinetti went to Aviation high school with Hall of Fame pitcher-Whitey Ford & got a baseball scholarship to Iona College in New Rochelle. Vito made Iona history by throwing  the school’s first ever no hitter.  He helped lead the Iona Gaels team to winning seasons ever year he pitched. The hard throwing right hander became the first Iona player to make it to the major leagues & is enshrined in their Hall Of Fame. Three players, all pitchers have made it to the bog leagues via Iona. Valentinetti was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1950, but then went off to the US Army for two years of military service. He joined the Cubs staff in 1954 pitching just one game. He went back to the minors returning in 1956 going 6-4 with a 3.78 ERA. He was mostly a relief pitcher in his career but made occasional starts as w

One Time New York Mets Pitcher: Livan Hernandez (2009)

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Eisler Livan Hernandez was born on February 20, 1975 in Villa Clara Province Cuba, although many people question how true that date is. He was getting paid $6 an hour as a Cuban athlete when he planned his escape through Mexico with a baseball recruiter at the age of 20. His half brother Orlando El Duque Hernandez defected two years later, also pitched in the major leagues. Hernandez signed with the Florida Marlins in order to live in the Miami area making a brief debut in September 1996.    Since then Hernandez is spending a long career as a work horse journey man who pitched 199 innings or more every season for over a decade (1998-2007).He had great movement on his pitches & has the ability to change speeds although he throws only in the mid 80's.  In the Marlins 1997 Championship season he made his first start in June pitching in an interleague game against the AL New York club. On June 28th he beat the Montreal Expos at home & went on to win nine straight dec

Short Time New York Mets Third Baseman: Alvaro Espinoza (1996)

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Alvaro Alberto (Ramirez) Espinoza was Born on February 19, 1962 in Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela. The six foot infielder was signed by an amateur free agent in 1978 by the Houston Astros. The old time classic, good fielding no hit short stop was a Pacific Coast League All Star for AAA Visalia in 1983. Espinoza was released by the Astros & made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins in 1984 as a defensive replacement in a game against the Texas Rangers. He spent three years with Minnesota & then spent the 1987 season with AAA Portland where he hit .308.  He signed with the AL New York club, becoming their regular short stop for three seasons. At short he committed 22 errors in 1989 (second in the AL) while coming in the top five in games, assists & putouts. His 23 sac hits in 1989 were second in the league & also had career highs in batting (.282) & doubles (23) that season as well. He was released in Spring Training 1992 as Andy Stankiewicz took over at shor