May 30, 2016

Mid Nineties New Jersey Born Mets Player: Joe Orsulak (1993-1995)

Joseph Michael Orsulak was born on May 31st, 162 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. The six foot left handed hitting Orsulak attended Parsippany Hills High School getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 6th round of the 1980 draft. He hit well enough in two years to go from A ball to AAA Hawaii by 1983.

He debuted with the Pirates in 1983 playing in seven games. By 1985 he was the Pirates regular outfielder batting .300 with 14 doubles 24 stolen bases a .342 on base % 7 21 RBIs coming in sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 1986 his average fell to .249 & he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles at the end of the year. He spent five seasons with Baltimore as a regular player, batting over .280 three times, while posting good on base percentages.

In 1992 he helped christen the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards getting two hits in a game against the Cleveland Indians. His strong arm had him lead the AL in assists (22) in 1991, while making a league leading 13 assists just in left field alone. That year he also posted a perfect .1000 fielding % as a left fielder. He came in fifth place with eight assists in right field in both 1992 & 1994. In December of 1992 Orsulak signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.

Orsulak was considered the fourth outfielder for the '93 Mets, but he actually got into more games then Vince Coleman & Ryan Thompson. He got into 134 games overall (fourth most on the club). Orsulak made his Mets debut on April 5th Opening Day playing centerfield & batting 6th. He had a good start batting over .290 by early May, when he hit his first Mets HR in a 4-0 win over the Florida Marlins. He kept his average up having eight multi hit games in May & starting out June with a nine game hit streak, hitting safely in 13 of 16 games.

In July he got his average over .300, he had three separate three hit games & hit two HRs both coming in the final week of the month. On August 30th he hit a bottom of the 8th inning HR to break a 4-4 tie against the Houston Astros, leading the Mets to a 5-4 victory. For the season he batted .284 (second on the club to Eddie Murray's .285) with a .331 on base % 8 HRs 15 doubles & 35 RBIs. In the outfield he had nine assists with a .978 fielding %.

In 1994 he pinch hit on Opening Day staying in the game to go 0-2 in the Mets 12-6 win at Wrigley Field. He got the starts in the next two games & drove in runs in each of them. He had a big start to May hitting a three run HR against the Dodgers in 1 7-4 Mets win at Shea onMay 1st. Two days later he hit a grand slam HR against Michael Jackson & the San Francisco Giants. From May 10th through May 17th he hit two more HRs and drove in eight runs.

On May 17th at Shea Stadium he hit a two run HR against the Florida Marlins & then won the game with a walk off RBI single scoring Todd Hundley. In June he produced 13 runs, with four multi RBI games, although the Mets lost all but two of the games he drove runs in on. He ended the strike shortened season batting .260 with 8 HRs 3 doubles 42 RBIs & a .299 on base %.

In 1995 Orsulak was the Mets main left fielder, playing alongside Bret Butler & Carl Everett. On Opening Day he came into the game late, driving in a run in an extra inning loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

On April 29th his bases loaded single off Vicente Palacios scored Bobby Bonilla with the game winning run. By mid May he was batting over .400, naturally he tailed off but kept his average above .290 through mid August. On June after coming into the game late, he singled up the middle off Florida's Randy Veres, scoring Tim Bogar with the games winning run.

In July he had another game winning moment, when his 7th inning sac fly scored Jeff Kent breaking a 2-2 tie against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 7th, he hit a three run HR off Florida's Terry Mathews, bringing the Mets from a 2-1 deficit to a 5-2 victory. He had another big day later in the month getting three hits & driving in three runs in a 7-6 Mets win over the San Diego Padres. For the second place 1995 Mets, Orsulak batted .283 with one HR 19 doubles a .323 on base % & 37 RBIs.

Orsulak put in an under rated three year career with the Mets, batting .276 with 579 hits 35 HRs 221 RBIs & a .331 on base % in 338 games. Orsulak was let go to free agency signing a deal with the Florida Marlins. He hit just .221 and was traded to the Montreal Expos in the Cliff Floyd deal. Orsulak played the 1997 season with the Expos batting .227 in 106 games closing out his career.

In a 14 year career he batted .273 with 1173 hits 186 doubles 37 trples 57 HRs 405 RBIs 93 stolen bases & a .324 on base % in 1494 games played. As an outfielder he made 105 assists with a .982 fielding % in 1253 games.

Former Mets Second Round Draft Pick: Dwight Bernard (1978-1979)

Dwight Bernard was born May 31, 1952 in Mt. Vernon Illinois. The six foot two right hander attended Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee. He was the Mets second round draft pick in 1974 and went 7-4 with the AA Victoria Mets that season.

He was promoted to AAA Tidewater the next season going 9-9 behind Craig Swan, Randy Sterling & Bill Laxton. He would pitch at AAA Tidewater for four seasons winning nine games again in 1977 going 9-13.

He cracked the depleted Met bullpen in 1978, debuting on June 29th in relief against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. On July 30th he blew a save in Houston & took a loss to the Astros. In September he was 1-4 blowing a win & a hold opportunity. He went 1-4 in 1978 making 30 appearances with 26 strike outs & 27 walks in 48 innings with a 4.31 ERA. The next year was worse as he made 17 appearances, but had a 4.50 ERA in late May when he was sent to AAA Tidewater.

He returned in August going 0-3 with a 4.70 ERA in 30 appearances. He allowed 59 hits & 26 walks in just 44 innings pitched. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the off season for pitcher Mark Bomback. Bernard toiled in the minors in 1980 then was a member of the Brewers 1982 AL Champion pennant team.

He made 47 appearances, with six holds going went 3-1 with a 3.76 ERA. He saved six games on days when Brewer ace reliever Rollie Fingers was resting. Bernard pitched four scoreless innings in the post season, including one inning of relief in Game #6 of the World Series’ against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bernard then pitched in the minors for three seasons, through 1985.

In his four year career he was 4-8 with six saves in 115 games. He struck out 92 batters walked 86 in 176 innings pitched. Bernard became a long time AAA pitching coaching, most recently with Tacoma.

May 29, 2016

One of the First New York Giants Star Players: Amos Rusie (1890-1898)

Amos Wilson Rusie was Born on May 30, 1871 in Mooresville, Indiana. The tall six foot one right handed fastball pitcher, was known as "The Hoosier Thunderbolt" & became one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1890’s. After one season at Indianapolis he came to the New York Giants in 1890.

In those days the distance between home plate & the pitcher’s mound was only 50 feet, & Rusie's fastball was frightening to batters. They were scared of the speed but even more so of his control issues. He would lead the league in walks five straight seasons & set the all time single season base on balls mark 1890 (290).

That season he also, led the league with 36 wild pitches. Rusie is seventh on the all time list with 1707 walks & 33rd with 153 wild pitches. In his first season with the Giants he won 29 games, but also led the league in losses with 34. He would win 30 games or more over the next four seasons, posting winning records every year.

To go along with his league leading walks, he also led the league in strikeouts five times, shut outs four times, starts twice, innings, games, games & finished all one time each. Rusie also won two ERA titles & was among the league's top five times.

It was said that catchers used to have to put a thin sheet of lead under a sponge in their mitts to take the sting away from his fastball. In 1893 he was 33-21 with a 3.23 ERA. He led the league in starts (52) games (56) complete games (50) innings (483) hits ( 451) walks (218) & strike outs (208). That same year tragedy struck as one of Rusie’s fast balls hit Louisville's future Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings in the head.

The blow put him in a coma, taking him four days to recover from the fastball. This led to baseball changing the distance from home to the pitcher's mound from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches. This change didn’t hurt Rusies’s effectiveness, in fact he came back to win the Pitchers Triple Crown in 1894. He was 36-13 with 195 strike outs & a 2.78 ERA. He also led the league in starts (50) shut outs (3) walks (200) & strike outs (195).

He became a popular figure in New York & was one of the first baseball stars in the city. He was known as "Mr. Giant" & "Colossus of Coogans Bluff". The famed vaudeville act of Weber and Fields used his name in their show, & famed Broadway actor DeWolf Hopper proudly called him a personal friend.

He even received a message of congratulations from the popular 1890’s sex symbol/ performer Lillian Russell. Russell was a Broadway star as well as one of the foremost singers of operettas in America. It was her voice that was first heard when Alexander Grahm Bell first introduced long distance telephone service as she sang to audiences in Boston & Washington D.C. from New York.  Russell also starred in burlesque, vaudville & early motion pictures. In her later years she wrote a column for womens suffrage & was a popular lecturer. A movie of her life was made in 1940 starring Alice Faye, Henry Fonda & Don Ameche.

Back to Rusie, a 25 cent paperback book was also written about him; "The Secrets of Amos Rusie, The World's Greatest Pitcher". In Manhattan Bars & Restaurants named drinks after him, as did bars  around the Polo Grounds ballpark. Rusie was one of the first celebrity athletes in New York City by far.

After a bitter contract dispute with Giants' owner Andrew Freedman, Rusie publicly gave the thumbing of his nose to Freedman, which was equal to today's version of giving someone the middle finger. He was fined $200 (he made only $2,500 a year) & held out for the entire 1896 season. It was terrible for baseball, the fans boycotted the game and the press railed against the owners.

A settlement was reached just before the 1897 season, out of respect for Rusie & fear of legal action against the reserve clause. In 1898 he was hit in the head with a line drive & suffered hearing damage from the after effects. He soon suffered arm trouble, as well as personal problems getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds for the great pitcher to be; Christy Mathewson. After just three games with the Reds his career ended.

Lifetime in ten seasons he won 246 games (49th best all time) lost 174 with a 3.07 ERA (185th all time) 1950 strikeouts (77th all time) 1707 walks (7th all time) & 30 shutouts (110th all time) 393 complete games (18th all time) 427 starts (94th all time) & 153 wild pitches (33rd all time).

Retirement: Afetr his playing days he & his wife moved to Seattle. It was tough for him to earn aliving there & when New York Giants manager John McGraw learned of his troubles offered him a job as a special officer at the Polo Grounds. Rusie accepted & was once again a celebrity in New York, he said "It was like climbing out of your grave & going to a dance". He stayed in that job for eight years before buying a chicken ranch back in Seattle.

Rusie was injured in a car accident & never fully recovered. He passed away in 1942 at the age of 71 in Seattle, Washington. Amos Rusie was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.

May 27, 2016

Former Italian / American Mets Backup Catcher: Mike Difelice (2005-2007)

Michael William Difelice was born on May 28, 1969 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The six foot two catcher, is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, getting drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the eleventh round of the 1991 draft.

He didn’t hit for power or average but was always a fine defensive catcher. He threw out over 45% of would be base runners from 1994-1996 earning a quick cup of coffee with the ’96 Cardinals.

In 1997 he saw action in 93 games, sharing time with Tom Lampkin, batting .238 with 4 HRs & a career high 30 RBIs.

In 1998 he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the expansion draft becoming an original Devil Ray. He would spend three and a half seasons with Tampa throwing out over 40% of base stealers twice, batting a career high .307 in 1999 (179 at bats). That season he also hit a career high six HRs, & repeated that the following season.

photo by centerfieldmaz- Spring Training 2007
On July 31st 2001, he was traded to the Arizona Diamond backs, but in August he was arrested in Pittsburgh after allegedly slugging a female, as well as a parking attendant at the Area 51 nightclub. He would get released from Arizona in early September as they went on to win the World Series two months later.

DeFelice would play with four more teams; the St. Louis Cardinals (70 games in 2002) the Kansas City Royals (62 games in 2003), the Detroit Tigers (13 games) & Chicago Cubs (4 games) in 2004, as well as spending some more times in the minor leagues before getting signed by the New York Mets in 2005.

By this time he was 35 years old, in New York he was used as a third string catcher, bullpen catcher & spring training mentor. He mostly helped out the club during times when the other main catchers were injured. 

He would spend three seasons with the Mets playing 42 games at the major league level, batting .171 (14-82) with six RBIs, three doubles & a triple. The aging catcher threw out just three of the fourteen base runners attempting to steal on him.

Trivia: As he walked up to the plate, he chose Judas Priest "You Got Another Thing Comin” as his song. DiFelice was certainly a gamer, a stand up guy, who certainly stood up for his teammates.

On the next to last day of the 2007 season as John Maine flirted with a no hitter, there was a bench clearing brawl when the Marlins threw two close pitches at the Mets’ Luis Castillo. As the benches emptied, Difelice boldly ran into a pack of Marlins players, going after catcher Miguel Olivo. The brave DiFelice was surrounded by nothing but Florida visiting jerseys, but he held his own.

In 2008 he returned to Tampa & played in seven brief games before requesting to be released. He became just the second player to wear all three Tampa franchise uniforms.

In a thirteen year career, he played in 554 lifetime games with 368 hits a .236 average, 28 HRs 83 doubles & 167 RBIs. Behind the plate he had a .988 fielding percentage & threw out 36% of would be base stealers. 
Retirement: In 2009 he was named manager of the Rookie level, Kingsport Mets located in Kingsport, Tennessee in the Appalachian League. He held that position for two years finishing a best 6th in '09.

May 25, 2016

Former Mets Pitcher Who Came Back To Haunt Them In the World Series: Chris Young (2011-2012)

Christopher Ryan Young was Born on May 25, 1979 in Dallas, Texas. The tall six foot ten inch right hander was a star pitcher & basketball player in high school. He tossed two no hitters in baseball & led his team to a Texas State Championship in basketball. 

Young attended Princeton University & became the first Ivy Leagues two sport Rookie of the Year. He was selected in the third round of the 2000 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Young went to the Montreal Expos & Texas Rangers organizations as he was rushed through the minor leagues. He debuted with the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington on August 24th earning no decision against the Minnesota Twins. He earned a loss next time out then went 3-1 in the month of September.

The next season he was 12-7, tying a Rangers record for most wins by a Rookie. He also posted a 4.26 ERA which were both second to Kenny Rodgers on the Ranger staff. Young led the team with 137 strike outs in 164 innings pitched.

That winter he was involved in a big trade with Adrian Gonzalez and Terrmel Sledge going to the San Diego Padres for, Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka & minor leaguer Billy Killian.

In 2006 he developed into a top pitcher, after a 3-3 start in San Diego he went on to win four straight. He allowed just four earned runs in 38 innings winning the Pitcher of the Month Award that June.

On the road he had the league’s best ERA (2.41) & held opponents to the lowest batting average (.206). In September he almost threw the first Padres no hitter, taking it into the 9th inning when Joe Randa spoiled it with a two run HR. Young took three different no hit bids into the sixth inning on the season. He finished up at 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA (6th in the league) making 31 starts while striking out 164 batters in 179 innings.

In 2007 he returned, and continued a streak of 25 straight road games without a losing decisions. He was leading the league in ERA & was 7-8 by the All Star break earning a spot on the NL All Star team. He took the loss when he allowed the first ever All Star Game inside the park HR to Ichiro Suzuki.

Prior to the All Star game he was involved in a bench clearing brawl at Wrigley Field when he hit the Cubs’ Derek Lee on the wrist with a pitch. The incident came a day after Alfonso Soriano had homered & took his time running the bases.

Young & two others were ejected & he had to serve a five game suspension. He bested his record to 9-3 but lost his last five decisions on the season finishing up at 9-8 with a 3.12 ERA.

In 2008 he was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of Albert Pujols. Young fell to the ground & lay there for several minted getting assistance from the teams trainer as well as team mate Tony Clark. The play was disturbing & shook up Pujols as well. Young suffered a broken nose went on the DL but returned.

That season he went 7-6 then fell to a 4-6 record in 2009 with a 5.21 ERA. That year his season was over in June when he needed arthroscopic surgery to repair partial tears in his labrum. In 2010 he strained his shoulder & missed most of the year going 2-0 in just four starts. In January of 2011 he signed a contract with the New York Mets.

Young is the second tallest player in MLB history (the same height tied with three others) & is more of a control pitcher rather than a power pitcher for his size. His delivery is slow so base runners have a field day running on him, as he led the league in most stolen bases allowed in 2006.

On April 5th he made his first Mets start beating the Phillies on the road of course, allowing just one run in five innings of work. In his second start he pitched seven innings allowing just one run to the Nationals but earned no decision. On May 1st he pitched seven innings of shut out ball in a much needed win at Philadelphia, avoiding a sweep on the historic night the United States killed  Osama bin laden.

Young had been one of the Mets most consistent starters early on, but then the worst happened. He suffered a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder, the same injury that sidelined him in the past. He opted to get the surgery to repair the injury missing the rest of the season. 

He returned to the Mets in June of 2012 earning a win in his second start of the year, an 11-2 Mets win at Tampa over the Rays. After a win to close out June, he lost four straight games thru July.

His best outing of the year was on August 2nd, when he pitched seven innings allowing one run with four strike outs in a win over the Giants in San Francisco. His next start was his worst allowing seven runs to the Marlins in a 13-0 loss. In the only outing of the year where he gave up no runs, he got no decision as the Mets dropped a 3-0 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati.

On the year he went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA, striking out 80 batters walking 36 in 115 innings of work in 20 starts. He was granted free agency & signed with the Washington Nationals but was released.

He then signed with the Seattle Mariners and won the Comeback Player of the Year Award winning 12 games (12-9) with a 3.65 ERA & 108 strikeouts in 165 innings pitched.

He was granted free agency & signed on with the Kansas City Royals. Young won 11 games with the World Champion Royals going 11-6 second most wins on the staff. He posted the best ERA of all the starters (3.06) as he got 18 starts pitching in 34 games.

Post Season: In the ALDS he pitched three innings of relief in Game #1of a 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros. He got a start in Game #4 of the ALCS in Toronto, he allowed two runs earning no decision in the 14-2 Royals win over the Blue Jays.

World Series: Young came out of the bullpen to pitch in Game #1 of the World Series against his old Mets team. He would come into the game in the 12th inning & pitch three scoreless hitless innings shutting down the Mets while earning the win.

He got the start in Game #4 at Citi Field, giving up a solo HR to Michael Conforto & a sac fly RBI to Curtis Granderson. He left the game down 2-0.

A rough start in 2016 saw him fall to 1-3 with an ERA over six toward the end of April.

Trivia: His wife Elizabeth Patrick is granddaughter to Lester Patrick, namesake of the former NHL’s Patrick Division & the Lester Patrick Award.

May 24, 2016

Early 2010's Mets Outfield Slugger: Scott Hairston (2011-2012)

Scott Alexander Hairston was born on May 25th, 1980 in Fort Worth Texas. At the time Scott was born, his father ; long time major leaguer Jerry Hairston was playing in Mexico. Scott's brother Jerry Hairston Jr. also is a major leaguer & played with the New York Mets.

Scott attended Canyon del Oro High School in Arizona which also featured a talent of future major leaguers at the time; Ian Kinsler, Chris Duncan, Shelly Duncan & Brian Anderson. Hairston then attended Central Aizona College with Kinsler, getting drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. He would hit at least .300 all but once, in eight minor league seasons. 

In 2004 he made the Diamondbacks and became the teams main second baseman batting .248 with 13 HRs & 29 RBIs. He spent most of the next two years in the minor leagues returning for 76 games in 2007. That July he was traded to the San Diego Padres and hit 8 HRs while batting .287 in 31 games the rest of the season. By this point he became a full time outfielder, getting in to 112 games in 2008 as the Padres fourth outfielder.

That June the Padres set a record by becoming the first team in history to win four straight games by a 2-1 score. In the record setting fourth game, Hariston hit a walk off game winning HR against the New York Mets & Pedro Feliciano for the 2-1 record setting victory.

Midway through the 2009 season he was traded to the Oakland A's but returned to San Diego for the next season.

In 2010 he was a team mate along with his brother Jerry, both playing as reserves with the Padres. Scott played in 104 games batting just .210 with 10 HRs 10 doubles & 36 RBIs. In 2011 he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent.

He was used right away making his Mets debut on Opening Day as a pinch hitter. On April 14th he hit a 9th inning two run HR off Colorado's Huston Street although the Mets still lost the game 6-5. In mid June he hit two HRs in the same week both coming on the road in Pittsburgh & Atlanta. On June 29th Hairston tripled & drove in three runs in an inter league Mets 16-9 win at Detroit against the Tigers.

That summer he had a big day at Citi Field against the Philadelphia Phillies. First he doubled home two runs off Cole Hammels & then later hit a three run HR off Danny Baez in the 11-2 Mets rout. His season was cut short in August as he ended the year playing as a utility player in 79 games, batting .235 with 7 HRs 8 doubles & 24 RBIs.

In 2012 Hairston hit his first HR in Philadelphia off Cliff Lee in the Mets 5-2 win there. On April 26th he hit for the cycle in Colorado's Coors Field, although the Mets lost 18-9 Hairston hit a 2nd inning single, then a solo HR in the 4th Inning. In the 5th inning he tripled scoring Ruben Tejada & then doubled in the 6th scoring Tejada & David Wright.

At the end of May he homered in three straight games, gathering up seven hits & seven RBIs in a five game span. At the start of June he homered in back to back games again, the first against St. Louis at Citi Field & then another in Washington against the Nationals. On July 27th, he hit a grand slam HR off the Cubs Casey Coleman in a 17-1 Mets romp over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

In July he hit a pair of HRs in three game set in Philadelphia against the Phillies. Then on July 30th he belted two HRs in a Mets 8-7 win over the eventual world champion Giants in San Francisco. Hairston's HR off Santiago Casilla broke a 6-6 tenth inning tie, leading to the win.

He slumped in August as did the rest of the Mets, after a strong start & being in second place at the All Star break, the team fell to fourth place to end the season.

In September Hairston finished strong with five HRs & 11 RBIs. He finished the year third on the club in HRs with 20 despite only appearing in 134 games (377 at bats). He hit .263 with 25 doubles (fourth on the club) three triples 57 RBIs (tied for fourth) & a .299 on base %.

After thinking about resigning him, the Mets chose to let him go to free agency where he signed with the Chicago Cubs in January 2013.

After hitting just .172 he was traded to the Washington Nationals for a minor leaguer. In 33 games he hit .224 with two HRs & seven RBIs.

In 2014 he was a reserve player on the Nationals playing in 61 games with 1 HR & 8 RBIs batting .208. He signed with the Chicago White Sox in 2015 but was soon released.

In an eleven year career he has 589 hits with 106 HRs 133 doubles 17 triples & 313 RBIs in 864 games.

Scott Hairston's Long Line of Baseball Relatives: Jerry Hairston - Jerry Hairston Jr. & Sam Hairston

Jerry Wayne Hairston Jr. was born May 29th 1976 in Des Moines Iowa. The five foot ten, right hand hitting utility player plays all infield as well as all outfield positions. After attending Southern Illinois University the older brother of Scott Hairston was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round of the 1997 draft.

Hairston went on to a long career playing with the Orioles from 1998-2004. Hairston stole 29 bases in 2001 & stole 21 more the next year. In his 2004 season he batted his Oriole best .303 playing in 86 games. He then moved on to the Chicago Cubs (2005-2006) Texas Rangers (2006-2007) Cincinnati Reds (2008-2009) A.L. New York club (2009) San Diego Padres (2010) Washington Nationals (2011) Milwaukee Brewers (2011) & Los Angeles Dodgers (2012-2013).

In 2008 with the Reds he hit a career best .326 in 80 games while stealing 15 bases. In 2009 & 2010 he showed the most power of his career hitting over ten HRs in each season.

In a 16 year career nding in 2013, he played in 1442 games batting .257 with 1126 hits 233 doubles 22 triples 70 HRs 420 RBIs & a .324 on base %. Hairston played every poition on the field except pitcher.


Jerry Wayne Hairston Sr. was born on February 16th 1952 in Birmingham, Alabama. The five foot ten switch hitting outfielder / first baseman was signed out of high school by the Chicago White Sox in 1970. Jerry reached the big leagues rather quickly as he batted over .290 three of his first four minor lague seasons. After hitting .347 at AA Iowa he was called up to the 1973 White Sox team.

Jerry Hairston was never a power hitter but was a fine reserve player who did a great job of pinch hitting. Hairston spent his entire MLB career (14 seasons) with the White Sox, except for a brief stint in Pittsburgh (51 games) in part of the 1977 season. From 1978-1980 he also played in the Mexican League, returning in 1981.

Back in 1975 he batted .283 with a .407 on base % playing 69 games, seeing the most Sox action as a left fielder alongside Pat Kelly & brief Met Ken Henderson. On October 4th 1981 he hit a grand slam HR against the Minnesota Twins in the 8th inning bringing the score from 12-5 to 12-9. In the 9th inning he then singled home two more runs including the game winner, giving him a six RBI day. In the second part of his MLB career he hit a career best .294 with 5 HRs 22 RBIs in 1983.

That season he broke up a perfect game bid by Detroit Tigers pitcher Milt Wilcox. Harrison singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. It was the fifth time in history a perfect game was foiled with two out in the 9th. In his 14 year career he batted .258 with 438 hits, 91 doubles, six triples, 30 HRs a .362 on base % & 205 RBIs. In his pinch hit career he hit eight HRs & batted .258 (90-349).

Retirement: After his playing days, he spent seven years as a minor league manager with the White Sox. In 2012 he was promoted to assistant hitting coach under new manager Robin Ventura.

Samuel Harding Hairston was born January 20, 1920 in Crawford Mississippi. He played seven seasons in the Negro Leagues with the Birmingham Black Barons & Indianapolis Clowns.

In 1951 he got to the major leagues playing with the legendary Minnie Minoso as a team mate on the Chicago White Sox. He would play in just four MLB games going 2-5 with two walks & an RBI. 

Retirement: After his playing days he became a White Sox scout and drafted players like Carlos May, Lee Richard, Lamar Johnson & Reggie Patterson. Sammy became a long time minor league instructor as a White Sox bullpen coach (1978). He then managed the Birmingham Barons for twelve seasons until his passing in 1997 at age 77.

May 22, 2016

Former Mets Relief Pitcher & A Good Guy : Vic Black (2013-2015)

Victor Lawrence Black was born on May 23rd 1988 at Amarillo, Texas. The six foot four right hander attended Dallas Baptist, University where he was a star pitcher & the highest ever drafted player at the school. He was selected as a first round draft pick (49thpick overall) for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009.

In 2009 he was 1-2 at State College in the New York Penn League, going to A ball West Virginia the next year. He was injured most of 2010 pitching in just two games going 2-1 with a 5.28 ERA. 

He moved up quickly going to AA Altoona in 2012 & getting to AAA Indianapolis by 2013. There he was 5-3 with 53 strike outs n 46 innings, posting a 2.51 ERA, making the All Star team.

Black was called up to the Pirates on July 25th, making his debut pitching the 8th inning in a 9-7 loss to the Washington Nats. He made three appearances with Pittsburgh, and was sent to the New York Mets, as the player to be named later in the Marlon Byrd & John Buck deal.

Black debuted with the Mets in Atlanta on September 2nd, 2013 making a mid-relief appearance in a 13-5 loss to the Braves. On September 8th, Black blew a save at Cleveland, when he relieved Daisuke Matusuzaka with the bases loaded & hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch,, that resulted as the Indians winning run. 

From there Black pitched well, he recorded three wins & save against no losses the rest of the way. He also was credited with four holds, as a late reliever. In 12 innings he struck out 13 batters, walked four & posted a 3.46 ERA in 15 appearances.

Black was being looked at as the Mets set up man for 2014, but he had a rough Spring Training, posting a 5.79 ERA with ten walks in 9 ½ innings pitched. The hard throwing pitcher did not make the trip North, as he was sent to AAA Las Vegas.

There he was the 51's closer, earning seven saves with a 1.47 ERA in 17 games. That quickly got him back to the Mets big league club by the end of May.

Black returned on My 27th & earned a win in relief against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In June he took two losses as well as earning three holds as a set up man. By July 12th hed had seven holds to his credit, as he earned a win against the Miami Marlins pitching a scoreless 8th inning. 

Through August he was the main set up man before injuries shortened his season. He finished 2014 with 12 holds a 2-3 record & a 2.60 ERA in 41 appearances. He struck out 32 batters & walked 19 in 34 innings pitched.

At Spring Training 2015 Black was shut down after just two innings of work with weakness in his pitching shoulder. He began a rehab program pitching at St. Lucie (0-1 in two games) & then a relief stint at AA Binghamton. He spent most of the season suffering from a recurring herniated disc as well as arm fatigue. As the Mets were on to a National League Championship, Black was a fading memory. He struggled at AA Las Vegas & hoped for a September call up that never came. In stead he was placed on waivers & is currently a minor league free agent.

Quotes Vic Black from SI: “The last year — year-and-a-half — hasn’t gone according to plan,” “I was frustrated,” he said in a strained voice. “I was ready and I didn’t know what the Mets were doing. I couldn’t watch the games anymore. My goal — my understanding — was that it would be ‘New York next.’ And that didn’t happen.”

Citi Field is the best place ever. It really is.. I got to be a part of some cool games as soon as I got up there. The day I got traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates  my first game in New York — was Mike Piazza’s induction day. I’ve never seen 44,000 people in a stadium before. Never. In my life. I’ve never seen applause for 15 minutes before a game. Everyone is yelling. And we got the cool badge on the side of our hat. It was awesome.”

While with the Mets he leased an apartment in New York, was involved in the City even helping to create a baseball field in Staten Island.

Upon his release he thanked the Mets fans, being the true gentleman he is.............

“I didn’t play for 10 years, nor was I an All-Star or contributor to last season’s amazing run. But I’ll never forget my time playing for the greatest fans/city in baseball. From walking the streets of Manhattan, to riding the 7 line daily to Citi Field, I was given moments I’ll remember for my lifetime. You were kind in welcoming me to YOUR family and I’ll always have blue and orange running in my blood. New York captured my heart and nothing can ever take that away. You gave me a gift, experiences and moments I’ll cherish forever. I’m counting the days till my next visit in whatever capacity it may be. I love you New York!”

Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder Pepe Mangual & His MLB Relatives (1975-1976)

Jose Manuel Mangual was born on May 23, 1952 in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Jose became known as Pepe, & is the brother of former Oakland A’s player, Angel Mangual who played against the New York Mets in the 1973 World Series going 0-6.

Angel Mangual began his career in Pittsburgh playing six games in the 1969 season. He was then sent to the Oakland A's in 1970 to complete the Mud Cat Grant trade toward the end of his career. Mangual was lucky enough to be a reserve outfielder on three consecutive A's Championship teams (1972-1974).

In 1971 he was third in the Rookie of the Year Voting batting .286 with 4 HRs 8 doubles 17 RBIs 32 runs scored & a .324 on base %. In his seven year career he batted .245 with 22 HRs 44 RBIs 125 RBIs 122 runs scored & a .279 on base %.

The Mangual brothers, were cousins of early seventies Montreal Expos infielder Coco Laboy. Laboy was the Expos main third baseman in their inaugural season in 1969 coming in second in the Rookie of the Year Award.

That year he had his best season batting .258 with 18 HRs 29 doubles & 83 RBIs. He posted a .944 fielding % turning 28 double plays (4th most in the NL) while making 25 errors. In five seasons he batted .233 with 291 hits 28 HRs 62 doubles & 166 RBIs, posting a .944 fielding%.

Jose Mangual became known as “Pepe” in the baseball world getting signed as an outfielder by the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969. He saw action in parts of three seasons from 1972-1974 before getting a shot at a regular outfield job in 1975.

That year he played in 140 games for the fifth place Expos, batting .245 with 9 HRs & 45 RBIs while striking out 115 times (4th most in the NL) in 609 at bats. Mangual was a fast base runner; he stole 33 bases (6th best in the NL) & was caught just 11 times that season, but he posted just a .340. on base %.

The '76 Mets lacked speed, as Bud Harrelson & Bruce Boisclair led the team with just nine stolen bases. The Mets went after Mangual, midway through the 1976 season trading away long time Met, Wayne Garrett as well as centerfielder Del Unser. Also coming to the Mets in the trade was outfielder Jim Dwyer.

Examining this trade years later; Mangual would play in 41 games for the rest of the 1976 season as a Met, batting a weak .186 (19-106) while stealing seven bases in ten tries. Dwyer played in just eleven games for the Mets hitting .154 (2-11). Unser had hit .294 in his one full season in New York in 1975, but then dropped off to .228 in 77 games in 1976.

But after a bad year, he did bat .274 in 1977 and played out his career through the 1982 season. Wayne Garrett was at the end of his career & would hit .270 in 1977 and then retire at the end of 1978.

In just his second game as a Met, Mangual faced off against his old Expos team in Montreal. He tripled & drove in the only two runs of the Mets 3-2 loss. The next day Mangual had three hits with three more RBIs in the Mets 10-4 win. He would only drive in one more run over the  next five weeks & just four more all season. He hit his only HR on the last day of the season, scoring the only run in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia.

In 1977 Mangual only played in eight games with the Mets going 1-7 spending most of the year at AAA Tidewater. He then went to the Pacific Coast League playing at the AAA level through 1984.

In his six season MLB career, Mangual batted .242 with 235 hits 16 HRs 35 doubles 83 RBIs & 64 stolen bases in 90 attempts.