Benny Agbayani: 2000 N.L. Champion Mets Outfielder (1998-2001)

Benny Peter Agbayani was born on December 28, 1971, in Honolulu Hawaii. He was born to Filipino and Samoan parents, growing up to attended Hawaii Pacific University, as well as the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Agbayani was originally selected by the California Angels in 1992 but did not sign. The six foot right-handed hitting outfielder, was later selected in the 30th round of the 1993 draft by the New York Mets. 

During the Baseball strike of 1995 he crossed the picket line and played at spring training. As a result, he could not join the Players Union when he finally made it to the majors.

Agbayani was always a popular player, he first became a local star with the AAA Norfolk Tides, batting .310 with 11 HRs & 29 stolen bases in 1997. 

Trivia: That season he even got married at home plate in Norfolk during the AAA All Star game.

MLB Debut: Benny got called up to the Mets, debuting June 17th, 1998, replacing Butch Huskey in centerfield in a 5-4 Mets loss. On June 19th, he made his first start and got his first MLB hit coming against the Florida Marlins, at Shea Stadium. 

His stay didn’t last too long, he was batting just .133 after 11 games & was sent back down to Norfolk for the rest of the year. There he hit .310 with 24 doubles 11 HRs & 51 RBIs in 127 games.

He began 1999 at AAA Norfolk & hit .356 in the first 28 games. He was back on the Mets big league club by early May. Bobby Valentine immediately took a liking to Agbayani and was able to make him play to the best of his ability if not better. 

He wasn’t an All Star but always played hard, giving it all with a great personality to go along with it. He won over the Shea Faithful, sometimes called "Hawaiian Punch" & became a fan favorite. 

He wore the number 50, as did former Hawaiian Mets star, Sid Fernandez. The number was in honor of their native Hawaii, the 50th State added to America in 1959. There was also the reference to the classic TV show; Hawaii Five-O. 

Trivia: At Shea Stadium, the public address announcer would play Elton John's "Benny & the Jets" as he came to bat.

1999: Agbayani began the season at AAA Norfolk were hit .356 with 8 HRs & 32 RBIs in 28 games getting called up on May 11th. In his first game up, he hit a HR off the Rockies Mike DeJean in a 8-5 loss at Colorado. 

Benny would play in the outfield behind Brian McRae, Roger Cedeno & Rickey Henderson. As the season went on, he slowly ended up taking over a regular outfield position as he out hit & played better than all the other outfielders. By next season, Agbayani would be the only guy left from that bunch to play on the NL Championship team.

Multi HR Game: On May 20th, in the first game of a double header sweep over the Brewers at Shea Stadium, Benny hit a pair of HRs off Steve Falteisek driving in a season high four runs in an exciting 11-10 Mets win. 

At the end of May from the 26th through the 29th, he homered in three straight games. First off former Met Pete Schourek in a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh. The next two came in losses at home against the Arizona Diamond Backs. 

In his first 66 at bats, he was hitting .409 with six HRs. He would finish the month of May batting .442 with ten runs driven in 18 games.

On June 6th, his popularity grew, when he drove in three runs in the Mets 7-2 win over Roger Clemens in the Subway Series matchup in the Bronx.

Multi HR Game: The next day Benny had his second multi-HR game, hitting a pair of HRs off Toronto's Roy Halladay in the Mets 8-2 win over Blue Jays at Shea Stadium. 

Later that week he hit HRs in back-to-back Mets wins over the Red Sox at Shea Stadium, as the Mets took two of three in that series. Agbayani reached double digits in HRs with his tenth.

On June 25th he had a HR & a pair of hits as the Mets topped the rival Braves 10-2. He got to the All-Star break, batting .306 with 11 HRs & 22 RBIs. 

On July 23d, he hit a 6th inning triple at Shea Stadium, scoring John Olerud & Edgardo Alfonzo tying up a game with the Chicago Cubs. The hits came off former Mets prospect Kevin Tapani. Mike Piazza won the game with a 7th inning RBI single. 

On July 26th, he drove in three runs for the third time on the season, in a 7-5 win over the Pirates at She Stadium. 

On August 6th, his sac fly off the Dodgers Chan Ho Park was the difference in the Mets 2-1 win over Los Angeles at Shea Stadium. Agbayani would slump in August, not hitting any HR & driving in just four runs as his average fell below .300.

 Benny's hot start in September, kept the Mets in the Wild Card race, as he had a six-game hit streak, with three muti hit games, hitting HRs in three straight games while driving in seven runs. 

On September 15th, Benny had his fourth game of the year where he drove in three runs or more, as he hit a two run HR off the Rockies Brian Bohanon & added an 8th inning RBI sac fly in a 8-5 win at Colorado. 

On September 17th, he hit a HR in an 8-5 loss to the Phillies at Shea. Then the next day he homered in his third straight game, with a solo shot off Chad Ogea in an 11-1 Mets romp over the Phillies.

Benny slumped in the last week of the season not getting a hit in his last eight games. The Mets tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the Wild Card spot, beating them in a one game tie breaker.

For the 1999 Mets Wild Card team, Agbayani hit .286, with 14 HRs, 18 doubles 3 triples 46 RBIs & 42 runs scored in only 286 at bats. He struck out 60 times walked 32 times, hit for a .525 slugging % (third best on the club) posting a .363 on base % & .888 OPS. 

Overall, Benny played in 101 games seeing action in 80 games all around the Mets outfield with a .984 fielding %.

1999 Post Season: NLDS: In Game #1 of the NLDS at Arizona, Agbayani went hitless (0-4) in the Mets 8-4 win over the Diamondbacks.

In Game #2, He was unsuccessful as a pinch hitter, grounding out against Greg Swindell in the 8th inning.

In the Game #3 Mets 9-2 win at Shea Stadium, Benny had two hits & scored a run when Rey Ordonez' singled him home in the 2nd inning. 

In Game #4 he broke a 1-1 tie in the 6th inning with a double to right field off Brian Anderson, scoring Rickey Henderson with the go ahead run. Overall, in the NLDS he hit an even .300 vs. Arizona in series going 3-10 with an RBI.

1999 NLCS: In the NLCS he struggled in the loss to the Atlanta Braves, batting only .143 playing in four of six games. 

He first appeared in Game #3 going 0-4 in Tom Glavine's combined 1-0 shut out. In Game #4 he came in as a pinch hitter in striking out against Mike Remlinger in the 9th inning.

In Game #5, Agbayani came in as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning grounding out in the 4-3 loss. As the game went into extra's he drew walks in the 12th & 14th innings. In the 15th inning, he was in the hole when Robin Ventura hit his famous grand slam single wo win the game. 

In Game #6 he collected two hits & drew two walks. Agbayani singled to lead off the 8th inning then scored Melvin Mora's base hit to break a 7-7 tie. In the 10th inning he drew a leadoff walk against John Rocker then scored on Todd Pratt's sac fly putting New York ahead 9-8. 

2000 NL Championship Season: In 2000 he came out of Spring Training as the team’s primary left fielder. That year, the season opened up in Japan as the Mets played a two game series with the Chicago Cubs at the Tokyo Dome. 

Pinch Hit Grand Slam: In the second game of the season, Agbayani came to bat as a pinch hitter in the top of the 11th inning. With the bases loaded & the score tied 1-1, Agbayani hit a dramatic game winning, grand slam HR off pitcher Danny Young, leading the Mets to a 5-1 win. It was his first career grand slam.

In an April 22nd double header with the Cubs at Shea, Benny drove in four runs, two in each game as the Mets swept the twin bill.

In April Benny hot .321 with eight RBIs & four doubles. In May he slumped batting just .241 driving in just one run with just one extra base hit. Since that grand slam in the second game of the season, it took him two months, thirty-seven games to hit another HR.

Multi HR Game: On June 14th, he hit two HRs in a 10-8 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The first HR came in the 7th inning off Matt Karchner & the second in the 9th inning off Tim Worrell as an insurance run.

He hit another HR the next day in Milwaukee as the Mets beat the Brewers 7-1. On June 26th, he hit another a pair of HRs against the Florida Marlins in a 10-5 Mets win at Shea Stadium. 

Benny had a good June, batting .356 with 15 hits, five HRs while driving in 15 runs, finishing the month raising his average just under .300 at .298.  

In July, Benny hit safely in 24 of 30 games, with a four-hit game on July 27th. That day he drove in three runs in the first game of a double header in a 9-8 Mets win at Montreal, against the Expos.

Momentary Lapse of Reason: On August 12th, he had an embarrassing moment that will forever make the blooper highlights.

Benny caught a fly ball near the left field stands which he thought was the third out of the inning. In a good gesture he reached over & gave the ball to a kid in the stands. The problem was, it was only the second out of the inning, and the bases were loaded. 

When he realized how many outs there were, he grabbed it back from the kid, and threw the ball in to home plate. The runners were awarded two bases each, putting the Mets behind 2-1. The Mets did go on to win the game in the end. After the game, Agbayani gave the kid a new ball as a souvenir.

By the end of July, he was back over .300 & kept himself around .310 most of the month of August. He hit over .300 for the third straight month (.311) driving in another 15 runs with five multi-RBI games.

On August 27th, he hit his 12th HR of the year, coming off Armando Reynoso in a 2-1 win in Colorado.

Benny had another strong September, getting 13 hits, with three HRs & 9 RBIs over 18 games, helping the Mets to another post season berth. 

Starting September 9th, Benny hit three HRs in a four-game stretch, with the Mets losing three of them. 

Multi RBI Game: On September 12th, he had his 15th multi-RBI game of the season, in a 10-2 win over the Brewers at Shea Stadium. In the 2nd inning, he cleared the bases with a three-run single then later, Benny hit his 15th HR of the season; a solo shot off Valerio De Los Santos.

Benny ended the year with hits in the last four games of the year. The Mets clinched the wild card spot & went to their second straight post season.

Overall, he finished with another fine season, batting .289 with a .391 on base% (third on the club behind Edgardo Alfonzo & Mike Piazza). 

Benny had career highs in HRs (15) hits (101) doubles (20) and RBIs (60). He also led the team in getting hit by pitches (7) drew 54 walks & posted an .868 OPS.

2000 Post Season- Agbayani would hit safely in 12 of his first post season games in 2000.

2000 NLDS:
In the 2000 NLDS Agbayani collected hits in all four games of the NLDS. In Game #1 he went 1-3 in the 5-1 loss at San Francisco.

In Game #2 Benny singled in the 3rd inning off the Giants Sean Estes & drew two walks in the Mets 5-4 win.

Walk Off Post Season HR: As the series moved to Shea Stadium, Benny secured his place in Mets history with one of the most dramatic HRs in Shea Stadium history. centerfieldmaz was in attendance that game.

In Game #3, in the bottom of the 13th inning with the score tied 2-2, Agbayani came to bat against Aaron Fultz. He blasted a walk off game winning HR over the left center field fence, bringing the 56,000 Shea Faithful into a frenzy. The Mets took a 2-1 series lead. 

In the Game #4 series clincher, he had two hits with a double in Bobby Jones one hit
shutout. Agbayani hit .333 overall in the Series (5-15) with a HR & RBI.

2000 NLCS: In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals he batted .353 with two extra base hits while driving in three runs. 

In Game #1 he hit safely in his fifth post season game with a 9th inning single in the 6-2 Mets win.

 In Game #2 in St. Louis with the score tied 5-5 in the 9th inning, Benny sacrificed Robin Ventura over to second base, putting him in scoring position. He came home when Jay Payton singled in the next at bat with what was he game winning run.

In the Game #3 Mets 8-2 loss he went 1-3 with a walk.

In Game #4 at Shea Stadium, Benny doubled in the 1st inning off Darryl Kile, driving in a run putting the Mets ahead 4-2. 

In the 2nd inning, he singled again off Kile bringing in Robin Ventura, but Todd Zeile was thrown out at home to end the inning.

In the Game #5 Mets clincher, he went 1-2 with three walks in Mike Hampton's 7-0 shut out. 

Agbayani enjoyed his popularity in New York, as one of the popular Mets payers, even getting to appear on the Howard Stern Radio show before the World Series. 

2000 World Series:
In the World Series he started out with two hits in Game #1, including a 7th inning double off Andy Pettitte. He would score the Mets first run on Bubba Trammell's pinch hit single.

In the Game #2 loss he hit safely in his 11th straight post season game going 1-4.

In Game #3 Benny had another important hit breaking a 2-2 tie. 
In the bottom of the 8th inning he doubled off Orlando Hernandez driving home Robin Ventura in what turned out to be the game winning run. He then scored an insurance run on Bubba Trammell’s base hit two at bats later. centerfieldmaz was in attendance that game as well.

Agbayani's hitting streak ended at 12 games the next day as he went 0-3. In the final Game #5 he collected one more hit, an RBI single off Andy Pettitte putting the Mets up 2-0.

Overall, in 14 post season games he batted .320 with 16 hits, five doubles a HR & five RBIs. 

Post Season Career: Benny batted .299 with 20 hits six doubles a HR & 17 RBIs in 22 post season games.

Author: After the 2000 post season he published his autobiography, Big League Survivor. 

After the Pennant: In 2001 he saw less action as the Mets shuffled around Timo Perez & Tsuyoshi Shinjo in the outfield. 

On Opening Day, he drew three walks in the Mets 6-4 win over the Barves in Atlanta. 

At the start of May, Benny had a hot six game hit streak stretch where he had four straight multi-hit games. 

Regular Season Subway Series: Agbayani started the weekend with a HR in the Mets 5-4 loss at Shea Stadium. On June 17th, the Mets enjoyed a six-run home 8th inning. 

Agbayani was in the middle of it with the bases loaded two run base hit off Carlos Almanzar bringing in Joe McEwing & Desi Relaford. Mike Piazza capped off the inning with a two run HR putting the Mets up for good 8-7.

On July 28th in the first of a twin bill at Shea Stadium, two run HR off Omar Dahl, led the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. 

On August 18th he broke a 4-4 tie with a sac fly off the Dodgers Mike Trombley leading the Mets to a 5-4 victory. 

Agbayani was shut down with injury at the start of September ending his season early.

Overall, he played in 91 games batting .277 with only 6 HRs 14 doubles two triples & 27 RBIs. He struck out 73 times walked 36 times with a .364 on base % & .763 OPS.

That winter he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, along with Todd Zeile as part of a three-team deal that landed Jeremy Burnitz & Jeff D’Amico in New York. 

Mets Career: In his four-year Mets career, he played 322 games batting .282 with 35 HRs 51 doubles 6 triples & 129 RBIs, walking 123 times striking out 206 times with a .372 on base %.

Quotes- Benny Agbayani: "I hope Met fans always remember me as a great ballplayer, someone who gave his all, was always there in the clutch."

Post Mets Career: The Rocky Mountain air didn’t help Benny too much, as he only hit 4 HRs with a .205 average in 48 games with the 2002Rockies. 

On August 26th he was put on waivers & was selected by the Boston Red Sox. In 13 games with Boston down the stretch, he batted .297 with eight RBIs.

Carer Stats: In his five-year MLB career, Agbayani hit .274 with 299 hits 39 HRs 57 doubles 6 triples 156 RBIs & 145runs scored. He struck out 246 times, drew 139 walks with a .362 on base % & .806 OPS. 

He played 333 games in the outfield, 282 in left field, 66 in right field & 10 in center. He had a .94fieling % making 13 assists.

In 2003 he left the major leagues & decided to play baseball in Japan under his old Mets skipper, Bobby Valentine with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Nippon Professional League:
In 2005 their Chiba Lotte team won the Japan Series, the teams' first championship in 31 years. The Marines then went on to win the inaugural Asian Series defeating Korea, Taiwan & China. Agbayani was the Series MVP. 

Honors: He is one of 17 MLB players with Filipino ancestry. In 1999 he was also elected to the Hawaiian Hall of Honor.

Retirement:  Benny retired after he 2009 season. In 2010 he started a new job as an educational assistant at Mililani High School on Oahu, Hawaii working in classrooms with teachers counseling kids.  In 2019 he served as a ramp agent for Hawaiian Airlines.

Family: Benny married Niela Guigui in July of 1998. Together they have three children. The family has lived in both North Amityville, Long Island & Honolulu, Hawaii. 


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