Jun 16, 2016

Short Time New York Mets First Baseman: Doug Mientkiewicz (2005)

Douglas Andrew Mientkiewicz was born June 19th 1974 in Toledo, Ohio. The six two first baseman batted left handed but threw right handed.

He attended high school in Palmetto Bay Florida, near Miami, where he was a team mate of Alex Rodriguez.

Mientkiewicz then went to play baseball at Florida State University first getting drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays but did not sign. He then led his Seminoles team to an ACC Championship while getting named the Atlantic Region MVP. He was then drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fifth round of the 1995 draft.

In 2000 he was a member of the United States Gold Medal winning baseball team. He helped the USA by hitting a game winning HR in the semi finals against South Korea.

Mientkiewicz made his MLB debut back in the 1998 season with the Twins. In 1999 he appeared in 118 games batting .229. After the 2000 Olympics he played in just three games with Minnesota batting .429.  

By 2001 he earned the starting first baseman job, winning an AL Gold Glove Award, leading the league in fielding. He hit .306 best on the second place Twins team, with 15 HRs with 74 RBIs.

In 2002 he fell of to a .261 average with 10 HRs & 64 RBIs, but the Twins won the AL Central Division & beat the Oakland A's in the ALDS. Mientkiewicz hit a HR in Game #1 off Tim Hudson & another in Game #5 off Ted Lilly. In the ALCS against the eventual World Champion Anaheim Angels he batted .278 with two RBIs.

He rebounded to a .300 average in 2003 as the Twins won another Central Division Title. 

That summer he suggested the All Star Game be moved away form US Cellular Field in Chicago after Umpire Laz Diaz had been attacked by a fan. The City of Chicago went in an uproar with the teams GM Kenny Williams saying " Mientkiewicz won't be there anyway".

Upon his first at bat in back in Chicago he was booed, & the was hit by  a pitch from White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, as the crowd cheered. At the end of the season after a sweep of Chicago in Minnesota, he commented to the press "They're done".

 In August of the 2004 season, he was brought to the Boston Red Sox in a big three team trade. At the time the Red Sox were 8 1/2 games back, but came back strong to win the wild card title.  He only hit .215 since arriving in Boston (49 games) but played a solid defense.

Post Season: He only made late inning appearances for defensive purposes in the post season, as the Red Sox went with Kevin Millar at first base. That year the Sox made the greatest comeback in post season history, beating the AL New York club in the ALCS after being down three games to none. In the World Series they beat the St. Louis Cardinals winning the teams first championship in 86 years.

Drama: In the final out of the series, Sox pitcher Keith Foulke tossed the ball to Mientkiewicz who kept the ball. It was a major sought after item & he refused to give the ball to the Red Sox organization. Eventually he agreed to tour New England with the ball in his possession. In 2006 all parties agreed to place the ball in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame.

In 2005 Mientkiewicz was traded to the New York Mets for a minor leaguer, & had one of the longest names in Mets history. He debuted as a Met on Opening Day in Cincinnati, getting  apair of hits in the 7-6 loss to the Reds.

The next day he hit a two run HR in the 9-5 loss. He hit safely in 13 of his first 18 Mets games through late April. On April 21st, he hit a grand slam HR in Florida off Al Leiter in a 10-1 Mets win over the Marlins.

In mid May, although he was batting just .238, he hit his fifth & sixth HRs in back to back games at Milwaukee & Chicago. In June he went on the DL for a month into July. In August he missed the entire month & returned briefly in September. Overall he played in 87 games for the third place Mets (87-79) batting .240 with 11 HRs 13 doubles 29 RBIs & a 322 on base %.

He was let go to free agency the following year as he batted .283 in Kansas City. Mientkiewicz then went to the AL New York club (2007) the Pittsburgh Pirates (2008) & Los Angeles Dodgers (2009). A shoulder injury shortened his MLB career.

In his 12 year career he batted .271 with 899 hits 66 HRs 221 doubles & 405 RBIs in 1987 games played.

In 959 games at first base he posted a .996 fielding % (5th all time) making just 30 errors in 8014 chances. He played briefly at third base (34 games) in the outfield (13 games) & second base (2 games).

Retirement: He worked as an analyst for CBS sports.com in 2010. He then began a minor league coaching career in 2011. In 2013 he began managing the A ball Ft. Myers miracle.



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