Apr 29, 2016

Life Long Mets Fan & Broadcaster: Gary Cohen (1988-2015)

Gary Cohen was born on April 29th, 1958 in Flushing New York. He was raised in Queens between Flushing & Jamaica attending the United Nations School.

He was true Mets fan idolizing Bud Harrelson, attending many games at Shea Stadium as a boy growing up. Cohen & his father were in the last section of Shea Stadium’s left field (Section 48) for Game #3 of the 1969 NLCS, making it all the way down to the field to get his piece of turf after the game, as the Mets won the pennant.

He attended Columbia University, graduating on the dean’s list while earning a degree in Political Science. He wanted to be a short stop following in Harrelson’s shoes but couldn’t hit well enough to remain on the baseball team. He loved basketball but was too short to play that sport.

He then moved into a broadcasting career, beginning by calling soccer games at Columbia University. From there he began to broadcast minor league baseball, for Boston's AAA Pawtucket club of the International League (1987-1988), the A ball Durham Bulls of the Carolina League (1986) and the A ball Spartanburg Spinners of the South Atlantic League (1983-1984). He would also do broadcast for Providence College basketball & football for Brown University.

His lifelong was to do to major league baseball, & at first he didn’t care what team would give hom a chance. But when it turned out to be the New York Mets, his dream came true. He grew up a fan of Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson & Ralph Kiner as well as Marv Albert.

In 1988 he was called into the booth to work with Bob Murphy for one game. In his big chance he choked up & didn’t say anything. “Murph reached out with his hand and he patted my hand in a grandfatherly way as if to say don’t worry, you’re okay, you’ll be all right, and he just started talking and that took the pressure off,” said Cohen.

“He went out of his way to make it okay and I never forgot that, that’s going to always be my greatest memory,” The next season (1989) he became Murphy’s partner in the radio booth, filling in for Gary Thorne who left the position.

His smooth baritone voice & incredible knowledge for the game makes him a natural. He never stops studying the game he has loved & lived his whole life.

He once said in an interview in the Queens Tribune: The people who you’re talking to can’t see what you’re describing so you have to describe it as fully as you can. You can’t decide when you’re 21 that you want to be a baseball broadcaster, you have to have been a fan of the sport from the time you were little. You have to know the rules, you have to know the terminology, you have to know the history, and you have to keep up with it all the time.”

Cohen took over the as the Mets lead radio broadcaster when the great Bob Murphy retired after the 2002 season. He worked well with sidekick Howie Rose until 2006 when he became the Mets lead television broadcaster on the SNY network as well as the Mets local Chanell 11 games.

At this point he was teamed up with Mets legends Keith Hernandez & Ron Darling from the 1986 Championship squad.

The three have become a very popular team, and work very well together. They have formed a charity which can be accessed through the website: www.pitchinforagoodcause.org.

Gary’s signature calls are "It's outta here!" when a player hits a home run & "Swing and a miss, he struck him out!" after a big strike out.

In 2006 he returned to the radio booth since the Mets post season games were not televised on the local networks. He was behind the mike for the great Endy Chavez catch, robbing St. Louis Jim Edmonds of a HR.

In addition the Mets he has done baseball on the CBS Radio Network. Rose was also the radio voice for St. Johns basketball from 1995-2002 when WFAN lost its broadcasting rights.

Since then he has covered Seton Hall basketball on WABC, & has a brief run with New York Rangers hockey. He has done U.S.A. Men’s & Women’s Olympic Hockey on CBS Radio (1992-1994-1998)

Cohen is a listener of WFUV radio, lives in Connecticut with his wife Lynn, & has three daughters & two sons as well as three dogs.

Apr 23, 2016

Former 2010's Mets Relief Pitcher: D.J. Carrasco (2011)

Daniel Carrasco was born April 12th 1977 in Safford, Arizona. The six foot four inch right handed pitcher was a 26th round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1997.

He began pitching in the minor leagues in 1998 & has pitched there in every season but three. He has a 36-36 minor league record with 51 saves & a 3.86 ERA in 275 appearances. In his long up & down career he was been signed & released by the Orioles, Cleveland Indians & Pittsburgh Pirates before landing with the Kansas City Royals in 2002.

Carrasco pitched three seasons in Kansas City, he went 6-5 as a reliever in his rookie season of 2003 appearing in 50 games for the third place Royals who made a good run for the AL Central title all year.

In 2005 he was used as a starter in 20 games going 6-8 with a 4.79 ERA, 49 strike outs, 51 walks in 149 innings pitched. He was released & then pitched in Japan for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2006.

That winter he signed on with the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching in their minor leagues & learned the game of ping pong which he says helped revive his pitching career due to its mechanics.

He was eventually released & signed on with the Chicago White Sox in 2008 where he returned to the major leagues after a two year absence. In 2009 he was 5-1 with the Sox posting a 3.76 ERA in 49 games.

The journeyman ended up in Pittsburgh with the Pirates in 2010 before getting traded back to Arizona in July, along with Ryan Church & Bobby Crosby for Chris Snyder Pedro Ciriaco & cash. That winter he signed on with the New York Mets as a free agent.

Carrasco debuted with the Mets on April 3rd, getting credit for a hold in a game at Florida against the Marlins. On April 10th he blew a save against the Nationals & then took a loss against the Atlanta Braves in a rare starting role.

On June 16th he came on to pitch the tenth inning of a 8-8 tie game between the Mets & Braves at Turner Field. With runners on second & third he balked home the game winning run with Jason Heyward at the plate. The so called "balk off win" was the second ever allowed in Mets history.

Carrasco continued to pitch out of the Mets bullpen in the 2011 season & on August 9th he finally earned his first Mets win. It came after one inning of relief at Citi Field in a game against the San Diego Padres.

On the season he was 1-3 with two holds & a 6.02 ERA, allowing 67 hits in 49 innings in 42 games.

In 2012 he twisted his ankle in Spring Training & did not make a bullpen spot, retiring at age 35. In his career he is 24-21 with a 4.48 ERA, 312 strike outs & 199 walks in 490 innings in 286 games.

Apr 21, 2016

Mid 2000's Mets Infielder: Jerr Keppinger (2004)

Jeffrey Scott Keppinger was born on April 21, 1980 in Miami, Florida. The six foot infielder, attended the University of Georgia where he hit .380 getting to the college World Series in 2001.

That same year he was drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. His power numbers fell off in the minor leagues, but he still continued to hit well batting .325 at A ball Lynchburg.

In the summer of 2004 he came over to the New York Mets organization in the Kris Benson deal. He made brief stops at AA Binghamton & AAA Norfolk early that summer. He got a break when a roster spot opened up, making his MLB debut with the Mets, on August 20th at San Francisco. He came into the game as a pinch hitter, going 0-1.

The next day he came into the game in the 7th inning & got his first career hit in the Mets 11-7 extra inning win. On August 22nd he made his first start at second base & got two hits in the 3-1 Mets loss. At the end of August, he hit HRs in back to back games, at Shea Stadium in losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Keppinger saw a lot of playing time in September, & drove in seven runs from the 10th through the 18th. On the year he would bat .284 with three HRs & nine RBIs playing in 33 games at second base.

He was back at AAA Norfolk in 2005 batting .331 in 64 games and was set to replace Kazo Matsui when he went down with injury. Unfortunately Keppinger himself, fractured his knee cap & wasn’t able to play. Instead he missed out the rest of the season.

Things may have been different for him & the Mets had he been able to succeed Matsui if he had not been injured.

The following season he was batting .300 again at AAA Norfolk but got traded to the Kansas City Royals for Ruben Gotay. He played in 22 games for the Royals that year, batting .267. On September 9th, he hit a three run pinch hit HR at Boston's Fenway Park in a 10-4 Royals win, it was his first hit in two years.

He eventually got traded to the Cincinnati Reds for 2007 & would hit .333 in 67 games that season. The next year he became Dusty Baker & the Reds regular short stop where he hit .266.

In the off season he was traded to the Houston Astros where he became their regular second baseman for 2010 hitting .288 with 34 doubles 6 HRs & 59 RBIs.

Late in 2011 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Henry Sosa & Jason Stoffel. In 2012 he signed with the Tampa Rays, where he hit .325 in 115 games (385 at bats) seeing action filling in for the injured Carlos Pena & Ben Zobrist.

He was granted free agency & was perused by the AL New York club when they knew Alex Rodriguez was going to be out most of the season. He declined their offers & signed with the Chicago White Sox for 2013.

In 2013 Keppinger was the White Sox ultimate utility man playing at second base (45 games) third base (41 games) first base (20 games) & DH (16 games). Overall he hit .253 with 4 HRs & 40 RBIs.

He hit nine HRs 15 doubles & 40 RBIs. Keppinger played at first, second, third base & designated hitter. 

In 2014 he was designated for assignment & was released, he is currently a free agent.

In his eight year career he played 701 games, batting .288 with 41 HRs 126 doubles 255 RBIs & a .337 on base %.

Apr 19, 2016

Former Mets Catcher: Ronny Paulino (2011)

Ronny Leonel Paulino was born on April 21, 1981 in Santo Domingo. The six foot three catcher was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1997 at age 16.

While rising through the ranks of the minor leagues, he batted .285 in 2004 at AA Altoona & then .306 overall in 2005 between AA & AAA. He was passed up as the Pirates top catching prospect by Ryan Doumit who was tearing up A ball with his hitting. That season Paulino made his debut with the Pirates appearing in two late September games.

In 2006 he had his first full season due to injuries to the Pirates catchers. Paulino batted .310 with 6 HRs 19 doubles & 55 RBIs. Behind the plate he caught a league leading 38 runners trying to steal (36%) & was second with 72 assists. He also allowed a league leading 11 errors & nine passed balls (third in the NL). The next year he fell to a .263 average but had career highs in HRs (11) RBIs (55) doubles (25) & games played (133).

In 2008 he became a back up catcher as Ryan Doumit took over the position after playing the outfield the previous year. Paulino was also sent to the minors playing in just 40 games with the Pirates.

In December 2008 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jason Jaramillo. In March 2009 he got traded to the San Francisco Giants & the same day was shipped to the Florida Marlins for a minor leaguer. He spent two seasons in Florida, the first as a back up to John Baker.

In 2010 he was the Marlins main catcher batting . 259 with 4 HRs 18 doubles & 37 RBIs, while posting a .991 fielding % throwing out 31% of runners trying to steal. He threw out 24 runners (5th best in the NL) but committed six errors (4th most in the NL) &allowed 53 stolen bases (5th most).

His year started off well, first on April 7th in the second game of the season he singled in the winning run in the top of the 10th inning, in a game against the Mets at Citi Field. On April 10th he came in to bat as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning with the bases loaded & the Marlins down 6-4 to the Los Angele Dodgers.

Paulino doubled scoring the tying runs as Jeff Cantu later drove in the game winner with a sac fly. On April 17th he hit a three HR leading the Marlins past the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1. He hit well enough to keep his average above .300 into early June. On July 17th he drove in both Marlins runs in a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals. His season was cut short with an injury on August 19th. In December he signed a deal with the New York Mets.

Paulino began the year at St. Lucie then at AAA Buffalo quickly making it to the Mets squad by the end of April. He would be used as a back up to Josh Tole playing in 78 games for the 2011 Mets.

In his first Mets start he played all 14 innings of a game at Philadelphia & ended up being the hero. Besides gathering five hits that night, in the top of the 14th he doubled off Kyle Kendrick driving in David Wright with the winning run. On July 3rd he came into the game as a pinch hitter, then singled off Mariano Rivera tying up a subway series game at Citi Field in the bottom of the 9th inning.

The Mets would win the game on Jason Bay's walk off base hit in the 10th inning. Paulino hit well enough through the year to stay above .300 into August. He finished the year batting .268 with 2 HRs 13 doubles a .312 on base % & 19 RBIs in 228 at bats. Behind the plate he threw out just 20% of runners trying to steal posting a .983 fielding %.

He was granted free agency & signed with the Baltimore Orioles for 2012. He appeared in just twenty games behind O's backstop Matt Wieters (144 games) & Taylor Teagarden (22 games) seeing no ALDS action. In 2013 he played in the minors for the Orioles & Detroit Tigers.

In an eight year career, Paulino hit .272 with 508 hits 33 HRs 93 doubles & 216 RBIs in 573 games. Behind the plate he caught 528 games throwing out 29% of would be base stealers.

Apr 15, 2016

Legendary Sixties Mets Scout: Red Murff (1963-1968)

John Robert Murff was born on April 1st, 1921 in Burlington Texas. He served in the Army in World War II & it was there he began to play baseball. The six foot three right hander was a star minor league pitcher as soon as he signed out of Gettysburg College. After winning 17 games in his first year of pro ball he went on to win twenty games the next two seasons.

In 1951 he pitched a no hitter pitching for the Texas City Texans & the following year pitched 19 2/3 innings of a twenty inning game although he took the loss. By 1955 he was 27-11 with a 1.99 ERA for the AA Dallas Eagles winning the Texas League Player of the Year Award as well as the Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year. Back injuries prevented him from ever becoming a full time MLB pitcher.

He was signed by the New York Giants but was soon traded to the Milwaukee Braves for a player to be named later. In 1956 he made the Braves staff and debuted as a rookie at the age of 35. He was the team's starting pitcher in the fourth game of the season, allowing five runs on seven hits to the St. Louis Cardinals but earned no decision. He was moved to the bullpen where he got credit for one save appearing in just 14 games on the year.

In 1957 he began the year with a save & then beat the Cincinnati Reds for his first career win. By early May he was 2-0 with two saves & an 0.93 ERA before he went downhill. He lost his next two decisions & raised his ERA to 4.85 by the end of the month. He was sent back down & never returned to the major leagues. He pitched in the minors until 1960 ending his minor league career at 146-95 with a 2.94 ERA.

He quickly became a minor league manager in 1960 & there he convinced a young Phil Niekro to throw a knuckleball. The following year Murff then began a very successful career as a scout. First he scouted with the new Houston Colt 45's where he signed a young fellow native Texan, a catcher named Jerry Grote. Murff was later instrumental in getting Grote to the New York Mets as he convinced the Mets brass of how good he was. He & Grote remained friends for the rest of his life.

Murff began working for the Mets in 1963, and through the next few years was responsible for signing many of the players that would make up the core of the 1969 World Champions. He held the first ever try outs for players enrolled in job training programs, & helped establish winter instructional leagues in Mexico. He followed the tip from an usher at Shea Stadium who had a son pitching at Fort Bliss Texas who was talking about a great pitcher they had down there. The pitcher turned out to be Jerry Koosman and although he seemed lax & a bit over weight he was signed by Murff.

Murff also signed two other Texans, second baseman Kenny Boswell & a skinny right hander who threw hard but was a bit wild, Nolan Ryan. In Ryans acceptance speech to the Hall of Fame he mentioned Murf (as did Phil Neikro) saying “He thought when he saw me at 6-foot-2 and 140, he wasn’t discouraged by my build and by the way I threw the baseball as many other scouts were. And I appreciate the fact that Red spent so much time with me and worked to help me become a better pitcher.”

By the time the Mets won the 1969 World Series, Murff was working for the newly formed Montreal Expos team as a scout. He worked in their organization through 1986 & was named Montreal's scout of the year in 1975. He then went on to the Atlanta Braves organization from 1987-1991 before retiring.

He helped establish baseball at the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor near his home & had the ball field there named after him. He also helped develop a program to have released players get a college education while playing baseball there. Murff also wrote a book & was elected to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Passing: Murff passed away in 2008 at a nursing home facility in Tyler, Texas at age 87.

The Oldest Japanese Player To Debut In The Majors: Ken Takahashi (2009)

Ken Takahashi was born on April 16th 1969 in Yokohama, Japan. The six foot left hander was originally an outfielder turned pitcher in Japan. He pitched for 14 seasons with the Hiroshima Carp, where pitched a no hitter in 1996.

After five year with sub .500 records he made his first All Star team in 2000 with a 5-9 record & 4 saves [posting a 3.93 ERA. In 2001 he went 10-8 with a 4.27 ERA making another All Star team.

He continued to pitch through 2008 where he was known as the leagues old timer. He retired but expressed an interest in pitching in the Major Leagues.

He signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays but injured his calf fielding a bunt in his very first Spring Training appearance. He was released & was offered a contract by the New York Mets.

He made his first American appearance at AAA Buffalo on April 9th, 2009. He allowed two hits, two walks & a run to Pawtucket. After six games he was called up to the Mets to fill in for an injured Casey Fossum.

On May 2nd, he became the oldest Japanese player to debut in the major leagues, as he came in the 5th inning to relieve Oliver Perez, in a 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies as Citizens Bank Park.

Takahashi remained with the club trough the year, making 28 relief appearances. He took his only decision a loss on May 13th, at Citi Field, losing to the Atlanta Braves after allowing a HR to Martin Prado.

In 28 games he was 0-1 with 23 strike outs 14 walks & a 2.96 ERA in 27.1 innings of work.

He was not resigned & went to pitch in Japan another season in 2010.

Apr 14, 2016

Italian / American Baseball & Football Pioneer: Edward Abbaticchio

Edward Abbaticchio who was known as “Batty” and at times “Abbey”, is the second Italian American to play major league baseball, although many sources have him also down as the first.

Logically he has to be second because his career started after Lewis Pessano who was known as Buttercup Dickerson.

One thing for certain, Abbaticchio didn’t change his name to sound more American. Not only is he an Italian American baseball pioneer, but he is believed to be the first Italian American to play pro football as well.

Edward James Abbaticchio was born on April 15, 1887 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. After playing semi pro ball he made his debut in September of 1897 with Philadelphia. He played there briefly for two seasons, and then went to play in the Southern League for two seasons, leading the league in hitting both times.

He came back to the NL with the Boston Bean Eaters for two seasons. There in 1905, he hit .279 with 30 stolen bases as well as career highs in doubles (25) & triples (12) while leading the league in at bats (610).

He was a fine defensive infielder playing both shortstop & second base. In 1903 he led the league in put outs at second (316) & then in 1905 led the league in games played (152), put outs (386) & errors (75) at short.

In 1908 he would lead all second baseman in fielding (.969%). Abbaticchio was a fast runner and a good base stealer, stealing over twenty bases five times & over thirty bases twice. After the 1906 season he retired from playing ball and ran a family owned hotel in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Pirates convinced him to return to baseball and convinced him by paying him very well.

In 1907 he became the Pirate second baseman, playing alongside the great Hall of Famer Hounus Wagner. The two would form a strong friendship that lasted beyond their playing days.

In 1909 he was a member of the Pirates World Champion team, although he was only a reserve player by then. He hit .230 in 36 games that season, diving in 12 runs with two stolen bases. He made one appearance in the World Series striking out in a pinch hit at bat. He finished his baseball playing career with nine seasons, 855 games & a .254 batting average. He had 772 hits with 11 HRs 43 triples 99 doubles 324 RBIs and 142 stolen bases.

Pro Football: In 1895 Abbaticchio was a member of the first American professional football team, the Latrobe Volunteer Firemen Football team. He was a star full back and kicker, who gets credit for developing the spiral punt. He was payed a hefty $50 a game to play football in 1895.

Retirement: After playing sports he continued to run his Hotel, the Latrobe House until his retirement in 1932. He moved to beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida and lived there for 25 years before passing away on January 5, 1957 at age 79. He is inducted into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame as one of its first members.

Apr 13, 2016

2000 NL Champion Mets Outfielder: Timo Perez (2000-2003)

Timoniel M. PĂ©rez was born April 8, 1975 in the Dominican Republic. The five foot nine left handed outfielder, began his pro baseball career in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp, from 1996 through 1999.

He was never a power hitter even with the short fences in Japan, he hit his best .296 for Hiroshima in the 1998 season.

He was brought into the New York Mets organization in 2000, thanks to Bobby Valentine who had known Perez from his own Japan days. Timo played just eight games with the A ball St. Lucie Mets, batting .355 before getting pushed up to AAA Norfolk. At Norfolk he hit .357 with six HRs 17 doubles seven stolen bases & 37 RBIs playing in 72 games. That September he got the call up to the Mets big league team.

He debuted on September 1st getting a hit in his first MLB at bat as a pinch hitter in St. Louis. On September 24th he hit an inside the park two run HR off the Phillies Bruce Chen leading the Mets to a 3-2 victory in Philadelphia.

Timo hit .286 in 24 games that September with four doubles, a triple, three RBIs & 11 runs scored. He found himself in the top of the Mets line up playing the outfield for the 2000 post season, when Derek Bell went down with a season ending injury.

Post Season: In the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, Perez hit .294 (5- 17) scoring two runs and driving in three runs. In Game #2 he had three hits, including a second inning bases loaded single, scoring Jay Payton & Mike Bordick.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium with the Mets down 2-0, his sixth inning base hit off Russ Ortiz scored Mike Bordick putting the Mets on the board with their first run. They would later win the game, on Benny Agbayani’s 13th inning walk off game winning HR.

Timo became an instant hero at Shea Stadium and a fan favorite. He was another example of Bobby Valentine catching lightning in a bottle and playing the right hand at the right time. In the 2000 NLCSagainst the St. Louis Cardinals, Perez led off the Series with a double and scored the first run on a Mike Piazza double at Busch Stadium.

In Game #4 at Shea Stadium he had two hits, with a walk & three runs scored in the Mets 10-6 win. Overall, Timo batted .304 with seven hits (7-23) with two doubles, two stolen bases and eight runs scored, as the Mets advanced to the World Series.

In the 2000 Subway World Series, Timo was exposed that he had trouble hitting curveballs. He struck out four times and only hit a dismal .125. His downfall started on a horrible base running mistake in Game # 1 that cost the Mets the game.

While on first base, Todd Zeile hit a long fly ball that Perez & everyone else thought to be a HR. He slowed down to watch the ball in flight but the it hit off the outfield wall and ended up staying in the park. Perez’s was then thrown out at home plate trying to score. The run would have avoided the game going into extra innings & had the Mets won, could have changed the tone & outcome of the Series.

In 2001 he began the season with the club, but struggled batting .247 in July & was sent to AAA Norfolk. There he hit well, batting .359 in 48 games.

He returned to the Mets in September to finish the year batting .247 with five HRs nine doubles a weak .287 on base % & 22 RBIs in 85 games.

He rebounded in 2002 keeping his batting average up over .300 until late August. In May he got hot hitting safely in ten of twelve games. In June Perez drove in runs in five straight games & had 11 RBIs in the first eleven games of that month, raising his average to .343. He would have three games in July where he drove in three runs, continuing to hit well all season.

In September he slumped a bit but an eight game hit streak helped him keep his average near .300. In 2002 as the Mets everyday outfielder, he hit .295 which was second best on the team to Edgardo Alfonzo.

In 122 games, Perez also had career highs in hits (131) doubles (27) triples (6) RBIs (47) and stolen bases (10). In the outfield he had nine assists posting a .979 fielding %, making six errors turning three double plays.

The next season he dropped off to a .269 batting average & was second in the league in sac flies (9). In 127 games he hit four HRs with 21 doubles 42 RBIs a .301 on base % & 32 runs scored.

On July 6th his three run HR in the top of the 8th inning off Cincinnati's Todd Van Poppel tied the game against the Reds. The Mets went on to win it 7-5 in the ninth. At the end of that month he drove in runs in four straight games, against the Reds then three against Milwaukee.

On August 16th he had a career high four RBI day in a game at Shea against the Colorado Rockies in which the Mets won 13-4. On September 1st he broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 7th inning, in a game against the Atlanta Braves, driving in Roger Cedeno with what would be the games winning run.

After the season ended he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Matt Ginter. Ginter would pitch 15 games in his Met career going 1-3 with a 4.54 ERA.

Perez batted .246 with 5 HRs 40 RBIs, playing in 103 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2004. He was a reserve outfielder on the White Sox 2005 World Championship team, although he hit just .218 in 76 games. He saw action in two post season games, going 0-2.

In 2006 he signed with the Cincinnati Reds but had his contract soon purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals. Timo played a small role on the 2006 Cardinals Championship team, batting .198 in 23 games, seeing no post season action.

He then moved on to play in the Detroit Tigers organization appearing in 29 games in 2007. He then went to the Mexican league & the Los Angeles Dodgers organization through 2010.

In January of 2011 he once again signed with the Detroit Tigers & was released in October.

In his eight year career he batted .269 with 449 hits 26 HRs, 10 triples, 91 doubles 126 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 187 runs scored & a .308 on base %.

Apr 9, 2016

Mookie Wilson Book Signing at The Yogi Berra Museum

centerfieldmaz attended a book signing at the Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair, New Jersey the other day. The book was called "Kings of Queens" Life Beyond baseball with the 1986 Mets.

The book features profiles & interviews with 14 members of that Championship Mets team. The book is written by Erik Sherman with a forward by Davey Johnson. Sherman is also the author of Mookie, Life, Baseball & the '86 Mets as well as two other baseball books. The special guest of the night was also non other than Mookie Wilson.

Mookie was a pleasure to meet, he was good natured polite & just a great guy. He talked to everyone & was genuine, it wasn't just a book signing that was just "next please, keep it moving" event. Mookie took pictures & gave good conversation.

I told him I was in the upper deck of left field during Game #6 of the 1986 World Series & from that point with no audio of broadcasters, I just saw a little white ball go from being in front of Bill Buckner to being behind him on the outfield grass.

And from what I remember Mookie was already on first base & would have beat it even if there would have been a play. Mookie replies "that's what I've been trying to make people believe for years"

When my friend Freddie asked him about his coaching years & stated that he coached some good teams (including the 2000 NL Champions) he jokingly erupted saying "then why did they fire me?". I replied because it was just another mistake the organization made & are famous for.

Mookie Wilson it was a pleasure to hang with you.

The author, Erik Sherman made an interesting point saying that everyone he interviewed on the 1986 club seemed to feel the same way, that the reason the Mets could not repeat a title run was that Ray Knight & Kevin Mitchell were both gone the next year. Not necessarily because of their abilities bit because of their presence. Both players were very intimidating factors & enforcers on the field.

Looking back on paper you'd have to say I make the same moves today, trading Mitchell to get Kevin McReynolds & letting Knight go to free agency as Howard Johnson was to move into the main third base spot. But if the Mets hadn't made those moves it would have been interesting to see if history would have been different. It was a great night.........................

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Ceter: If you have never been here its a great place. It's a small Museum located on the campus of Montclair State, adjacent to the baseball field. I was here twice before, a few years back for a Ralph Branca Bobby Thompson book signing for Joshua Prager's Book "The Echoing Green".

Some exhibits change, others are constant. The museum celebrates Yogi's career as a player, a coach & a manager as well as him being one of the most beloved & respected people of all time. It celebrates baseball, community, family & commitment. While promoting respect, sportsmanship & social justice. There are many intimate events they sponsor & is certainly worth a visit.

As a Mets fan I especially enjoyed the Mets exhibits, representing Yogi's years as coach for the 1969 Amazing Mets & Manager of the 1973 NL Champions.

I also enjoy the Italian American references, especially the tributes to Yogi's old neighborhood in the Hill in St. Louis with life long friend & baseball personality; Joe Garagiola.

The Brooklyn Dodger Rivalry is also noted with acknowledgements to Gil Hodges & Jackie Robinson.

Berra & Gil Hodges 1956 World Series

Yogi Berra's Catching Gear

Berra's Three MVP Awards