Richard Hidalgo: Former Mets Player Who Set Franchise Record Hitting HRs in Five Straight Games (2004)

Richard Jose Hidalgo
was born on June 28, 1975, in Caracas,Venezuela. The big six foot three, outfielder batted & threw right-handed. He was signed by the Houston Astros in 1991 at just 16 years old.

He was considered an all-around fast player until a knee issue hurt his speed. H
e was a fine outfielder with a strong throwing arm and good power at the plate. After three years he reached the AA level & then hit 14 HRs two straight years at AA Jackson. In 1997 he began the year at AAA New Orleans hitting 11 HRs batting .279 before getting called up.

Astros Career: Hidalgo was a September call up for the Astros in 1997, getting a hit in his first game, while hitting two HRs that month, playing in19 games. Houston won the NL Central but lost the NLDS to the Atlanta Braves. In the post season he saw action in two games going hitless in five at bats.

In 1998 he was limited to 74 games with injuries. That season the Astros won the NL Cental again but lost the NLDS to the San Diego Padres. He backed up Carl Everett in centerfield. He saw action in one game of the Division series going 1-4 in the 6-1 loss.

In parts of his first two seasons, he batted over .300 both times. His first full season was 1999, he
moved over to left field as the Astros primary left fielder with a young Lance Berkman behind him. That year Houston won
another Central title, losing the NLDS to the Atlanta Braves once again. Hidalgo hit 15 HRs with 25 doubles 56 RBIs but only hit for a .227 average, 76 points lower from the previous year. He did not play in the post season.

After the season he had knee surgery & it helped the problems he was having with his stance at the plate. In 2000 he had a huge year ,as did many other bats in MLB did during the height of the so called "steroid era".

Hidalgo bashed 44 HRs (4th in the league) 122 RBIs (7th in the league) hit 42 doubles (6th in the NL) while batting .314 for the fourth place Astros. He struck out over 100 times for the second time and would do so four of the next five seasons. In September he was the NL Player of the Month, as he hit 11 HRs & drove in 31 runs with nine multi RBI games.

But he never matched those totals again, he had a decent follow up year tin 2001, with 19 HRs driving in 80 runs while batting .275. In 2002 he fell to a .235 average with 15 HRs playing in 114 games, missing time with an injury. 

Drama: In 2002 he was shot in the left forearm, during a car jacking incident in Venezuela.

Defensively he was a good outfielder leading the league in fielding percentage twice, once in left field (1999) & once in right field (2002). In 2003 he led the league with 22 outfield assists & only made four errors, posting a .987 fielding percentage. 

Mets Career: In June of 2004 Richard Hidalgo came to the Mets in exchange for David Weathers & Jeremy Griffiths, trying to add some power to the lineup.

He made his Mets debut on Mike Piazza Night, where Piazza was honored after setting the record for most HRs by a catcher. centerfieldmaz was in attendance on the festive night, where catcer greats Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Lance Parrish were on hand to honor Piazza. Hidalgo went 0-4, that night in the Mets 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Two nights later he hit a two run HR off Jeremy Bonderman in the Mets 6-1 win over the Tigers.
A week later he hit two HRs in the second game of an interleague subway series double header, both were solo shots off Mike Mussina. 

Mets Record Books:  Then in July he secured himself a spot in Mets history by hitting HRs in five straight games from July 1st to July 5th. (Daniel Murphy would hit HRs in six straight post season games in 2015.)

The first came in Cincinnati on July 1st; he had two hits with a HR off Reds pitcher Mike Mathews in the Mets 7-6 win. 

2004 Subway Series Mets Sweep: The next three HRs came at Shea Stadium during the July 4th weekend interleague subway series, where the Mets swept their cross town rivals. 

On Friday evening, Hildago had three hits, including a two run HR (another off Mike Mussina) in an 11-2 Mets romp. On Saturday July 3rd, he hit a solo shot in the 6th inning off Jose Contreras bringing the Mets within a run. They would win the game on Shane Spenser's two run double then his walk off fielders choice scoring Kaz Matsui in the bottom of the 9th off Tanyon Sturtze. 

Hidalgo topped off the weekend on Sunday, Independence Day, by hitting a 7th inning HR off Felix Heredia, breaking a 7th inning 4-4 tie.. Hildago’s day was overshadowed by Ty Wiggington, who hit two HRs that day, including an 8th inning, game winner off Tom Gordon. 

On Monday July 5th Hidalgo wasted no time setting the record, in the first inning he homered off
the Phillies Paul Abbott in Philadelphia, to set the club record of five straight games with a HR.

Two weeks later, he had back-to-back HR games where he drove in three runs in each contest. Both games were at Shea Stadium, the first in a loss to the reigning World Champion Marlins & the next in a win over the Expos. Later that week he hit two HRs at Olympic Stadium in a zany 19-10 Mets loss. He closed out the four game series with another HR on July 29th his team leading 17th & was batting .270.

In August he hit five HRs & drove in 14 runs with seven multi hit games. On September 13th he blasted a three run HR in the home 7th inning, giving the Mets a 9-5 lead over the Atlanta Braves, in a game they would win 9-7. Three days later he hit a three run HR in a 9-4 win over the Braves at Shea Stadium. It was his last HR as a Mets player.

Hidalgo went on to hit 21 HRs for the 2004 Mets, second to Cliff Floyd's 30. Hidalgo played in just 86 games, driving in 52 runs (fourth on the club) with 11 doubles & one triple. He only batted .221 seeing his average fall 50 points in the final two months. He posted a .poor 301 on base % & struck out 76 times in 324 at bats.

NL Leader in Assists:
In the outfield his strong arm got him ten assists with the Mets, and his 14 overall assists, were the most in the NL all season. He only made six errors in 286 chances posting a .979 fielding %.

He was not resigned for 2005 and he went to the Texas Rangers as a free agent, hitting 16 HRs with just 43 RBIs batting .221 on the season. In 2006 he signed with the Baltimore Orioles but requested out of his contract, opting to play in Japan instead. 

Family: In 2006 he also needed time to take care of his wife who had become ill. He & his wife have three sons.

After Japan he signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros in 2007 but didn’t want to play in the minors and retired for good that season.

In his nine year career he hit .269 with 929 hits, 171 HRs, 214 doubles, 19 triples, 531 runs scored, 560 RBIs & a .345 on base %. He had 81 outfield assists & posted a .987 fielding percentage.


Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)

Fictional Mets Infielder Chico Escuela ( of SNL) Visits Mets Spring Training (1979)

Remembering Mets History: (1977) The Felix Millan / Ed Ott Brawl In Pittsburgh

The 1970's Oakland A's Ball Girls- (MLB's First)