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 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.

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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.


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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

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.

Former Italian / American Player: Frank Mancuso (1944-1947)

Frank Octavius Mancuso was born May 23rd, 1918 in Houston Texas. He is the younger brother of New York Giants catcher Gus Mancuso. Frank Mancusco was the youngest of seven children and followed in his brothers footsteps as a catcher. 

The six foot right hand hitting Mancuso served in the United States Army during World War II. In 1942 serving as a paratrooper he suffered a serious injury & was discharged. It looked as though his baseball career was over, especially being a catcher. The injury reulted in a condition where when he looked straight up he would lose the flow of oxygen to his brain making him pass out.

At times he was also unable to look straight up to catch pop flies. He defied the odds & made it to the big leagues with the St. Louis Browns in 1944.

That year he played in 88 games batting just .205 with one HR 11 doubles & 24 RBIs.In 87 games behind the plate he led the AL with 17 errors. In 1944 the Browns won their only American League title, finishing first for the only time in their 52 year existence. (In 1954 the franchise moved & became the Baltimore Orioles.)

Post Season: The 1944 World Series was the all St. Louis Series as the Cardinals defeated the Browns in six games. Mancuso appeared in two Series games. In Game #2 at Sportsman's Park he had a big pinch hit RBI single off Max Lanier in the 7th inning which tied up the game. The Cards won it in extra innings.

In 1945 he became the Browns main catcher batting .268 with 13 doubles one HR & 38 RBIs. He allowed the second most steals in the league (46) making six errors with 11 passed balls (3rd in the AL).

The following season he played 87 games, splitting time with four other Browns catchers most notably Hank Helf (69 games). That season he allowed the most stolen bases in the AL (44) throwing out 27% of the base runners trying to steal.

He played one more season with the Browns before finishing up his career with the Washington Senators in 1947. In a four year career Frank Mancuso batted .241 with 241 hits 37 doubles 7 triples 5 HRs & 98 RBIs. Behind the plate he threw out 28% of runners trying to steal with a .972 fielding %.

Retirement: After baseball he served on the Houston City Council for thirty years before retiring. He passed away in 2007 after suffering a heart attack at age 89.

May 14, 2016

Former Mets Reief Pitcher: Carlos Muniz (2007-2008)

Carlos Javier Munoz was born March 12th 1981 in Torrance, California. The six one right hander attended Long Beach University getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 13th round in 2003.
After pitching four years in the minors & in the Mexican League as a reliever, he got his break in 2007.

Muniz would get called up in late September debuting in a 10-9 loss to the Washington Nats during the Mets 2007 collapse. He helped finish out the combined one hitter with John Maine pitching a hitless 9th inning.

In 2008 he had a decent Spring Training & made it North with the club. He made three April appearances finishing off games with no decisions. He would be up & down to the minors a few times during the year. On May 29th he got credit for a hold in an 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On July 2nd, he served up a walk off HR to Troy Glaus in St. Louis as the Cards beat the Mets 8-7. A week later he earned his only career win, it came in a 3-0 Mets shut out of the Colardo Rockies at Shea Stadium. He pitched the 5th & 6th innings, relieving Pedro Martinez. 

He made 18 appearances for the 2008 Mets posting a 5.40 ERA going 1-1 with 16 strike outs & seven walks in 23 innings of work.

The next year he went 0-3 at AAA Buffalo in just 12 games. He spent 2010 at A ball St. Lucie & Binghamton but there posted an 8.38 ERA. He pitched in the Mexican league in 2011 ending his career there.

Former Mets Pitcher: Willie Collazo (2007)

William Collazo was born November 7th 1979 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The five foot eight left handed relief pitcher, attended school in Miami Florida & Cedar Rapids Iowa. He tied for the Sun Belt Conference in wins & was named a third Team All American by Baseball America. Collazo was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2001 in the 10th round.

After pitching four years in the minor leagues, he tested positive for steroids in 2005 & was suspended 15 games. Upon his return he struggled. The next year he pitched good at Winter Ball to enough to win Pitcher of the Year honors. In March of 2006 he was signed by the New York Mets.

At AA Binghamton he went 7-6 with the leagues fourth best ERA (3.11) getting promoted to AAA Norfolk the same year. There he was 3-3 the rest of the way. In 2007 he began the year at AAA New Orleans going 6-5 with a 2.46 ERA posting four saves in 56 games.

Collazo got his call up that September debuting on September 5th in a 7-0 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. He would next finish up an 11-3 Mets win at Shea over the Houston Astros. On September 11th he was roughed up for three runs pitching two innings against the Braves in a 13-5 Mets loss.

Collazo would make appearances in three games of the Mets 2007 NL East collapse where they lost out on the post season. Most famously he relieved John Maine, after he had been pitching a no hitter & gave up a hit with two outs in the 8th inning on September 17ths 13-0 win over the Florida Marlins at Shea.

Collazo spent the next season at AAA New Orleans going 4-9 with the Zephyrs never getting back to the big leagues.

Retirement: By 2010 he was pitching in Taiwan with the President Lions. After his pitching days he became a coach with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 2014-2015.

May 11, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1986 & 1987) Looking Back At Two of Current Mets Coach Tim Teufel's Walk Offs

Monday May 12th 1986:  Chuck Tanner's Atlanta Braves (13-17) came to Shea Stadium for a night game against Davey Johnson's first place Mets (21-5).

The Mets starter; Sid Fernandez was outstanding tonight. Through seven innings he shut out the Braves, allowing just four hits, with one walk while striking out ten. The Braves Rick Mahler shut the Mets out through six innings, allowing seven hits & walking three but always got out of a jam when needed.

Roger McDowell came on for the Mets & shut out the Braves in the 8th & 9th innings. The Braves reliever Paul Assenmacher had come on in the 7th inning with the bases loaded & one out. He got Kevin Mitchell to ground out & then struck out Howard Johnson.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, the Shea crowd of 25,906 began their "Lets Go Mets" chants. Ray Knight who was hot, was batting .326 & led off with a double. Knight had hit just .218 in 1985 and was almost let go by upper management, but Davey Johnson asked to keep him around one more year. It sure paid off.

Mets second base man; Tim Teufel stepped in, he had already singled in the 2nd & again in the 7th innings. Teufel delivered again with a base hit to score Knight with the winning walk off run. The win was the Mets 12th in their last 14 games.

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Friday May 1st 1987:  Davey Johnson's second place Mets (12-9) hosted Buck Rodgers fifth place Montreal Expos (8-13) in front of 28,808 fans at Shea Stadium.

The Mets got to Expo starter Bryn Smith with HRs by Daryl Strawberry (two run shot) & catcher Barry Lyons. In the home 3rd the Mets Kevin McReynolds doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch & scored on a fielders choice.

Mets pitcher Ron Darling doubled bringing in another run & Lenny Dykstra's base hit made it 6-4 Mets.

Darling had his own troubles, giving up HRs to former Met Mike Fitzgerald, Wallace Johnson & a three run shot to Tom Foley. A 6th inning RBI double to Tim Wallach tied it up at six.





In the 9th, Jesse Orosco got out of a bases loaded jam & Montreal's Bob McLure came on to try to get to extra innings. After Len Dykstra flied out, Tim Teufel came up as a pinch hitter for Wally Backman. Teufel came through with a dramatic walk off HR to give the Mets an exciting win.

In 1987 Teufel would play 97 games for the Mets, the most in his five seasons in New York. He hit a career best .308 matching career highs in HRs (14) & RBIs (61).

May 8, 2016

1954 World Champion New York Giants Catcher: Ray Katt (1952-1957)

Raymond Frederick Katt was born on May 9, 1927 in New Braunfels, Texas. The big six foot two catcher attended Texas A & M getting signed by the New York Giants in 1947.


He batted over .300 three straight seasons when he reached AAA Minneapolis making brief appearances for the Giants in 1952 & 1953. During those years, future Mets manager Wes Westrum was the Giants main catcher.


By 1954 backup catchers Ray Noble, Sam Calderone & Sal Yvars were all gone, opening the spot for Katt in the second string job. Katt appeared in 86 games of the 1954 Giants Championship season & had a better year at the plate than main catcher Westrum did. Katt batted .255 with 9 HRs 7 doubles 33 RBIs & a .291 on base %.


On May 5th, Katt drove in five runs with three hits in the Giants 21-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Polo Grounds. Three days later Katt drove in four more runs, in another Giants romp, a 17-6 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. From July 28th through August 6th he hit three HRs driving in six runs on the week. Behind the plate he posted a .973 fielding percentage throwing out 48% of would be base stealers.



He would lead the league in passed balls (12) and was second in errors committed (8). On September 10th, 1954, Katt set a record with four passed balls in the same inning. Rookie knuckleballer (future Hall of Famer) Hoyt Wilhelm got a bit wild with two outs & a runner on first. He walked the next two batters & Katt is credited with two passed balls.


Next up, future Met Roy McMillian comes to bat & two more passed balls get by Katt as two runs score. The runner on third, Bobby Adams expects another knuckle ball in the dirt to get by Katt and takes off for home, but Katt scooped it up & tagged out Adams for the third out.


As the World Series approached Westrum took over as the Giants main catcher and Katt saw no Series action in the four game Giants sweep over the Cleveland Indians.

In 1955 Katt did take over as the Giants main catcher but only hit .215 with 7 HRs & 28 RBIs in 124 games. He once again led all catchers in passed balls (17) & made seven errors which were third most in the league. Those numbers put him back as the reserve catcher in 1956 behind Westrum.

That June he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, in a huge deal that involved Alvin Dark, Don Liddle & Whitey Lockman all going to St. Louis. The Giants received catcher Bill Sarni Jackie Brandt, Dick Littlefield, and Red Schoendienst in return.


Katt would finish the year with career highs in HRs (13) doubles (8) & RBIs (34). That December he was sent to the Chicago Cubs who traded him back to the Giants as the 1957 season began.


He spent the year as a back up to Valmy Thomas, batting .230 throwing out 13 of 22 would be base stealers (59%) behind the plate. He got sent back to St. Louis for his last two seasons before retiring.

In an eight year career he finished with a .232 batting average, 248 hits 32 HRs 29 doubles four triples & 120 RBIs. Defensively he posted a .986 fielding % throwing out 55% of would be base stealers (75 out of 132 runners) .

Retirement: After his playing days he was a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals (1959-1960) & Cleveland Indians (1962).

He went back to Texas taking a job as a successful head coach for Texas Lutheran College, remaining there for a long 22 years. He posted a 502-362 record there from 1971-1993.


Passing: In 1999 Katt passed away in Texas from lymphoma at age 72.

May 6, 2016

Mid Nineties Mets Backup Catcher: Brook Fordyce (1995)

Brook Alexander Fordyce was born on May 7, 1970 in New London, Connecticut. He attended high school in the town of Uncasville, Conn., which is now the location of the Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino.

The catcher was drafted in the third round of the 1989 draft by the New York Mets. He spent six years in the Mets organization, before making the team out of Spring Training in 1995.

He made his MLB debut as a pinch runner in Colorado on April 26th. In his first MLB at bat he walked as pinch hitter and scored his only career Mets run that same day. He made two more pinch hit appearances getting his only Mets hit, which was a double, on May 12th against the Montreal Expos.

That season the Mets had Todd Hundley as their main catcher with Kelly Stinnett & Alberto Castillo as backups. Fordyce was placed on waivers two days later & got picked up by the Cleveland Indians.

Fordyce was soon signed by the Cincinnati Reds, playing there for three seasons. With the Reds he played behind catchers Joe Oliver & Ed Taubensee under managers Ray Night & Jack McKeon.

In 1999 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for a minor leaguer, becoming the team’s main catcher that season. That year he hit .297 with 9 HRs 25 doubles & 49 RBIs in 105 games played. He made eight errors behind the plate & threw out 33% of would be base stealers.

In 2000 after 40 games with the White Sox, he was batting .272 & got traded on July 31st to the Baltimore Orioles for Harold Baines & Charles Johnson. In Baltimore Fordyce would hit .322 with 9 HRs the rest of the season, finishing with career bests in batting average (.301) & HRs (14) for the season. He would spend four seasons in Baltimore, becoming a solid defensive catcher.

In January of 2002 he collapsed after hitting his head in the bathroom of his Ft. Lauderdale home. An artery had burst & sent five pints of blood gushing into his stomach.

He spent four days in intensive care & almost died from losing too much blood, while not having enough blood reach his head. He recovered well enough to return for 56 games later that season.

In 2003 he was the Orioles main catcher hitting .273 with 6 HRs & 31 RBIs. That season he finished third in the A.L. with a .996 fielding %, he had also finished third in 2000 with a .990%.

Retirement: Fordyce retired after the 2004 season, finishing a ten year career, batting .258 lifetime, with 467 hits 41 HRs 103 doubles & 188 RBIs in 623 games played. Behind the plate he played in 591 games posting a .988%. 

He currently owns and operates a baseball training center in Stuart, Florida.

May 3, 2016

Late 2000's Mets Backup Catcher: Robinson Cancel (2008-2009)

Robinson Castro Cancel was born on May 4, 1976 in Lajas, Puerto Rico. The six foot catcher was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1994.

He played in the minors for six years before he got to the AAA level. In 1999 he also got his first call up to the big leagues playing in 15 games for the Brewers striking out a dozen times in just 44 at bats. He batted only .182 with eight hits, two doubles & five RBIS as the fourth catcher on the team. 

He was sent back down to the minor leagues and did not resurface in the majors until almost a decade later with the 2008 New York Mets. In an 18 year minor league career he hit .266 with 1098 hits, 88 HRs & 580 RBIs in 1240 games. He threw out 37% of would be base stealers & posted a .984 fielding %.

He came to the Mets organization in January 2007 and batted .264 at AAA New Orleans as a backup catcher to Mike Difelice.

In 2008 he had a decent spring training getting some notice, but still began the year at A ball St. Lucie. He was pushed back to AAA New Orleans where he hit .346 in 15 games. That June he was called up, when the Mets needed some catching help and made a pinch hit appearance on June 6th in San Diego.

A week later on June 15th he pinch hit for Pedro Martinez, in the second game of a double header at Texas in an interleague game. He batted in the 6th inning with the bases loaded & Cancel delivered a base hit scoring two runs which turned out to be the game winning runs. It was a huge thrill for the 32 year old journey man minor leaguer, who hadn’t had an MLB hit since 1999.

He went 2-6 in his next pinch hitting roles, before getting a start at Shea Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 26th.

On August 11th he hit his first & only career HR coming against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium off Zack Duke. In 27 games Cancel hit .245 with the one HR two doubles & five RBIs in 53 at bats.

In 2009 he spent most of the season at AAA Buffalo but got into one final MLB game as a pinch hitter going 0-1 on July 30th in a game against the Rockies. He was designated for assignment that October.

In 2010 he played for the Long Island Ducks batting .301 with 14 HRs & 81 RBIs. Cancel played in the Mexican League in 2012 with Sultanes de Monterrey. 

Former Mid Ninties Mets Pitcher: Juan Acevedo (1997)

Juan Carlos Acevedo was born on May 2nd, 1970 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. His family came to the United States settling in Carpentersville, Illinois. The big six foot right hander was listed at 243 lbs on his MLB profile.

In 1992 he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 14th round while attending Parkland College. After an impressive 17-6 record at AA New Haven in 1994 he was promoted to AAA Colorado Springs in 1995 & was brought up to the Rockies staff after three games.

He debuted on April 30th getting no decision in a start at Houston, pitching five innings of shut out ball. He went 4-6 into July, then allowed six runs on nine hits in a horrific relief appearance against the New York Mets. A few days later he was sent to the New York Mets for a player to be named later & Bret Saberhagen. Acevedo finished the year at AAA Norfolk & went 4-8 there with a 5.96 ERA in 19 games for 1996.

In 1997 he improved his ERA a bit to 3.86 & was 6-6 with the Tides when he was called up to the Mets staff in mid June. He debuted in a Mets uniform in the subway series across town, pitching 2.1 scoreless innings in the Mets 3-2 loss.

Acevedo was used often from that point on out of the bullpen, he would get credit for three holds along the way. On July 6th he got his first Mets win when he benefited from Carl Everett's walk off RBI single against the Florida Marlins. A few days later he blew a save in Atlanta when Eddie Perez homered & Keith Lockhart had an RBI double.

He would blow three other saves along the way, one in Pittsburgh, one in Houston & another at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. In September he earned two wins, including a seven inning two run outing in a rare start on the last day of the season. That day the Mets beat the Braves 8-2. In 25 appearances he was 3-1 with 33 strike outs in 47 innings with a 3.59 ERA. In the off season he was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher Rigo Beltran.

In St. Louis he saved 15 games & went 83 having one of his best seasons to date, posting a 2.56 ERA in 50 appearances.

In 1999 he was used as a starter going 6-8 on the season, but then became a full time reliever the rest of his career.

He would become a journey man pitching in Colorado again (2001) Florida (2001) Detroit (2002) New York (A.L.) (2003) & Toronto (2003).

In Detroit he set a record for most saves by a Mexican born pitcher with 28. He was 1-5 with a 2.65 ERA as well that season.

In an eight year career Acevedo was 28-40 with 53 saves, 350 strike outs 226 walks & a 4.33 ERA in 570 innings of work over 367 games.

Retirement: In 2010 he was sentenced to six months for not contempt of court, related to a violation of his divorce settlement.