Sep 8, 2016

2000 N.L. Champion Mets First Baseman: Todd Zeile (2000-2001 / 2004)

Todd Edward Zeile was born September 9th, 1964 in Van Nuys, California. He is a direct descendant of John Adams, the second President of the United States. 

Zeile was a star catcher for UCLA getting drafted in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986. He hit .292 with 25 HRs &106 RBIs at A ball Springfield in 1987. From there he was promoted to AA Arkansas in 1988 where he hit 19 HRs with 75 RBIs. In 1989 he hit .289 with 19 HRs & 89 RBIs at AAA Louisville, getting him a promotion to the Cardinals big league club.

Zeile was the Cards regular catcher in his first full season in 1990, hitting 15 HRs with 25 doubles, & 57 RBIs, coming in 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting. At catcher he threw out 43 base runners trying to steal (second in the NL) but he did allow 93 baSes stolen &had ten passed balls (4th most in the NL). He spent two seasons behind the plate in St. Louis before the team wanted to make room for Tom Pagnozzi. At the time, St. Louis manager Joe Torre told Zeile his career would last longer if he moved to third base. 

At first Zeile wasn’t too happy about the move, and it was a tough adjustment for him. He would make over 20 errors in a season six different times, and make the most errors of any player in the 1990’s.

He had one of his best seasons in 1993 hitting 17 HRs with 36 doubles (10th in the NL) 85 walks (7th in the NL) driving in 103 runs (7th in the league) and batting .277 with a .352 on base %. In 1994 he hit 19 HRs with 75 RBIs hitting just .267. In June 1995, after seven seasons with St. Louis he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Mike Morgan.

He only hit .227 in Chicago & at the end of the season signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent. At the end of August he had 20 HRs with 80 RBIs batting .268 when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Pete Incaviglia for Garrett Stephenson.

In 29 games with Baltimore, closing out the season, he hit 5 HRs with 29 RBIs and got to his first post season. After going 5-19 in the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians he had a fantastic ALCS batting .384 with HRs in Games two, three & five gathering five RBIs. After the playoffs he left to sign as a free agent with the Dodgers in his home town of Los Angeles.

In 1997 He played in 160 games with the Dodgers hitting a career high 31 HRs with 17 doubles while driving in 90 runs at Chavez Ravine’s Dodger Stadium. He batted .268 striking out over 100 times. The next season he found himself in the middle of a blockbuster deal that sent him & Mike Piazza to the Florida Marlins for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson and Manuel Barrios.

But Zeile always seemed to be on the move, after 66 games just two months later he was sent to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers. Overall in 1998 he batted .276 with three teams on the season. He got to the post season with the Rangers batting .333 in three ALDS games. He helped Texas win their division the next season batting .293 with 24 HRs & 98 RBIs. He get to another post season ALDS appearance in 1999 batting just .100 (1-10).

In December of 1999 he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent, to replace the departed John Olerud at first base. Olerud did not want to move his children to New York, he chose to live in Washington State & signed with Seattle .

Todd Zeile became a popular player right away in New York as he jumped on board for the 2000 NL Champion Mets season. In the lineup he would usually batted behind Mike Piazza & Robin Ventura.

Zeile debuted as a Met on Opening Day at the Tokyo Dome, going 0-4 in the Mets loss to the Chicago Cubs. On Opening Day at Shea, he delived a 7th inning base hit tying up the game against the San Diego Pades. In the 8th Derek Bell would hit a solo HR that was the game winner.

On April 20th he had another 7th inning base hit that tied a game up. This one came against Milwaukee's David Weathers, a two run single which led to Melvin Moras walk off 10th inning HR.

In April he closed out the month hitting safely in 15 of 16 games getting his average up to the .300 mark. It took him until April 30th to hit his first HR but in May he hit eight HRs while driving in 16 runs & had eight multiple hit games.

On May 27th he a pair of HRs while driving in five runs in a 18-8 Mets win at St. Louis. In June he had a 13 game hitting streak, in which he drove in ten runs. During that month he hit safely in 19 out of 25 games bringing his average back up to the .300 level.

On June 2nd he hit a three run HR in the 6th inning, off (future Met) Tampa's Rick White, to lead New York to a 5-3 inter league win over the Rays. In the first ten days of June he drove in twelve runs with three multi RBI games in which he drove in three runs each time. That summer he reached a personal milestone hitting his 200th career HR. He had a lot of clutch hits that year, helping the Mets win the NL Wild Card race.

On July 8th he hit a HR in the subway series 2-0 Mets shut out at Shea the day after Mike Piazza was injured by a Roger Clemmens pitch to the head. On August 12th with the Mets down 2-1, Zeile doubled in two runs off San Francisco's Felix Rodriguez in the bottom of the 7th inning, leading to a 3-2 victory.

When the Rockies came into Shea for a four game series, Zeile greeted them with two HRs, including an 8th inning game winner on August 15th, in the second game of a double header. He drove in runs in three of the four games as well.

On August 27th his bottom of the 7th inning ground out, scored Edgardo Alfonzo with the tie breaking run, and gave Mike Hampton victory #13. On September 10th, Zeile hit a two run HR in the top of the 10th inning at Cincinnati leading the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Reds. During the week of September 26th through the 24th he hit four HRs while driving in six runs. Zeile ended the year batting .268 with 22 HRs 36 doubles a .356 on base % & 74 RBIs. Although he made ten errors (4th in the NL) at first base, he posted a .992 fielding % playing a solid defense.

Post Season: Zeile had a horrible NLDS Series where he was 1-14 (.071). But he turned it around to have a good NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In Game #1 he led off the top of the 9th with a HR ioff Mike James n the Mets 6-2 victory in St. Louis. He had two hits with two RBIs in Game #2, including an 8th inning RBI single which put the Mets up 5-3 in a game they would end up winning 6-5 in extra innings.

In Game #5 in front of a wild Shea Stadium crowd, Zeile came to bat in the 4th inning with the bases loaded facing Pat Hentgen. He doubled scoring all three runners (Timo Perez, Mike Piazza & Robin Ventura) putting the Mets up 6-0.

They went on to a 7-0 Mike Hampton shut out, clinching their first NL Pennant since 1986. With those RBIs, Zeile set a Mets NLCS record by driving in eight runs in a championship series. Overall he hit .368 (7-19) in the series, with three doubles & two walks.

In Game #1 of the 2000 World Series, he just missed a HR in the 6th inning, as the ball hit the top of the wall & bounced back in the park. Then Mets base runner Timo Perez, made a fatal error, as he got thrown out at home plate on the play.

Perez was watching the ball instead of running full speed & even failed to watch his third base coach. The run would have probably won the game, since t had to go to extra innings. The play could have turned the Series around right from the start. Zeile gathered two more hits in Game #2 as well.

As the Series moved across town to Shea Stadium, he had a big Game #3. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Zeile doubled home Mike Piazza with a shot off Orlando Hernandez, tying up the game at 2-2.

In the 8th inning with one out and the score ties, he singled off Hernandez. He then scored the go ahead run on Benny Agbayani’s double, as the Mets went on to win the game 4-2. Overall in the World Series he hit .400 going 8-20 with two doubles a walk and an RBI.

In 2001 he started out the first two weeks in a slump. He then drove in 12 runs in the last two weeks of April, highlighted by a three RBI day in Montreal where he hit a HR leading the Mets to a 4-0 win. He didn't hit another HR for a whole month, until May 25th when he hit at three run HR against the Florida Marlins in a 4-3 Mets win. At the end of June he drove in runs in five of eight games, highlighted by a June 29th game in Atlanta where he drove in all three Mets runs to beat Jason Marquis & the Braves 3-1.

He only hit one HR in the month of July & one in all of August as well. After the September 11th attacks, the Mets resumed play in Pittsburgh on September 17th.

Zeile went hitless that night, but helped the Mets sweep the series and get back into the pennant race, by hitting HRs in each of the next two games. The Mets faded in late September & finished the year in third place (and third in the wild card race) six games back of Atlanta.

Zeile’s power numbers dropped in 2001, as he finished off with only 10 HRs despite leading the team in games played (151) & at bats (531). He also struck out the most times on the club (102) and hit into a team leading 15 double plays. Overall he hit .266 with 10 HRs 25 doubles 73 walks (second on the club to Robin Ventura) with a .359 on base % & 62 RBIs (second on the club to Mike Piazza).

In January he was part of a three team trade going to the Colorado Rockies with Benny Agbayani for Ross Gload & Craig House.

The Mets also sent Lenny Harris & Glendon Rusch to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jeromy Burnitz & Jeff D'Amico.

In Colorado in 2002, Zeile led the NL in errors at first base (21) posting the league’s worst fielding percentage for first baseman (.942). At the plate he hit .273 with 18 HRs 23 doubles & 87 RBIs in the Rocky Mountain air.


Closing Ceremonies of
Shea Stadium 2008
He would go on to make two more quick stops in 2003: first with the A.L. New York team for 66 games & then with the Montreal Expos for 34 games finishing the season. Zeile finished out his career returning to the New York Mets as a free agent in 2004.
He played in 127 games for the ’04 Mets, hitting just .233 with 9 HRs 16 doubles & 35 RBIs in what turned out to be his final season. That year he had a few personal highlights including getting his 2000th career hit & hitting a HR In his final career at bat.

The HR came on October 3rd, off Montreal’s Claudio Vargas, making Zeile the 41st player in history to accomplish that feat. It was also the last HR hit off a Montreal Expo pitcher in their history, since it was in the team's final game, as the franchise moved to Washington D.C. the next year.

Zeile finished his 14 year career batting .265 with 2004 hits 253 HRs (197th all time) 397 doubles (180th all time) 23 triples & 673 extra base hits 9199th all time).

He has 945 walks (142nd all time) with 81 sac flies ( 85th all time) 1110 RBIs & a .346 on base %.

He played in 2158 games (155th most all time) with 7573 at bats (193rd al time).

In the post season he was a .292 hitter playing in four different post seasons (29 games total) with 33 hits, 4 HRs 7 doubles & 14 RBIs. In his Mets career, Zeile batted .259 with 368 hits 41 HRs 77 doubles & 176 RBIs.

For New York he played 367 games at first base (7th on the Mets all time list). He also played at third base, caught two games behind the plate & even pitched one inning.

Overall in his career he played 1498 games at third posting a .942 fielding %. He played 466 games at first base (991%) 130 games at catcher (.985 fielding % with a 29% caught stealing %) three games in the outfield & two games at pitcher.

Trivia: Zeile was the first player in history to hit HRs for eleven different MLB teams.

Retirement: Todd has been married to 1984 Olympic Silver medalist gymnast Julianne McNamara since 1989. In the early eighties she also appeared on an episode of Charles in Charge with Scott Baio.

In 1997 Todd himself had made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live. After baseball Zeile formed his own Hollywood production Company, called Green Diamond Entertainment.

In 2005 he appeared in two episodes of the sitcom, The King of Queens with Mets fan Kevin James. He later appeared in movies Dirty Deeds, Liquid & I Am. Todd Zeile was on hand for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.

Zeile has become friends with Actor Charlie Sheen. In 2012 the two went to Scotland on a 24  hour boat excursion looking for evidence of the Loch Ness Monster. No new evidence was found.

In 2016 Zeile began doing studio work with the Mets SNY Network covering in the studio pre game & after game highlights.

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