May 27, 2021

Todd Hundley: Mets Number Three All Time Catcher In Game Caught (1990-1998)

Todd Randolph Hundley was born May 27, 1969 in Martinsville, Virginia. That year his father Randy Hundley was the catcher of the Chicago Cubs, who were battling the Amazing New York Mets for first place. 

The five foot eleven, catcher, was drafted in the second round of the 1987 amateur draft by the New York Mets. He was highly touted prospect right from the start of his career, even throughout his school days while growing up in Illinois.

After playing in A ball briefly 1987-1989, he was sent to AA Jackson in 1990

Mets Debut: He was pushed right up to the major leagues, making his debut on May 18th, 1990 batting eighth & catching Frank Viola in a 6-3 Mets loss at San Diego. Hundley arrived with a lot of hype & anticipation.

 At first he showed great defensive skills, but just like in his minor league start, he didn’t hit right away. In his first career game he doubled off the Padres, Bruce Hurst in his second at bat.

But from there he batted just .167 through the end of July & was sent back down to AA Jackson to work things out. He returned at the end of August & in limited time through the end of the season batted .209 with six extra base hits, all doubles.

1991: In 1991 he spent most of the year at AAA Tidewater, where he batted .273, leading the club with 14 HRs & 66 RBIs. He arrived back with the Mets that September. On September 26th, he hit his first career HR, off Bill Landrum, in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. In 21 games he batted a meek .133 with one HR, no doubles & seven RBIs.

1992: In 1992 he got the job as the Mets main catcher ahead of Charlie O'Brien & Mackey Sasser. He caught 121 games posting a .996 fielding % (both fourth best in the NL) with 700 put outs (third in the NL). He allowed 89 stolen bases (second most in the NL). 

In early April he hit HRs in back to back games against the Montreal Expos & St. Louis Cards, but didn't hit another HR until a month later.

He didn't get over the .200 mark until the start of August, and his struggles continued through the end of the season. With the exception of a five game stretch in late June, where he drove in runs in each game, his season was uneventful at the plate. Hundley batted just .209 with 7 HRs 17 doubles & 32 RBIs with a .256 on base %.

1993: In 1993 he had a little better start to the season, beginning with a four RBI day in Colorado on April 18th leading the Mets to an 8-4 win over the Rockies. On an early home stand against the West Coast San Francisco Giants & San Diego Padres, he hit HRs in three straight games, while driving in runs in four straight games.

He was still struggling at the plate for the last place '93 Mets, by the end of June he hit his seventh HR, but was only hitting .219. He had a four RBI day on July 10th, coming against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. In that game he led the Mets to a 7-6 win, including a two run HR off Pedro Astacio.

On September 2nd, he had a big five RBI day at Wrigley Field, including a grand slam HR off Juan Guzman in a 8-3 Met win. Hundley drove in twelve runs on the month of September finishing up with 53 RBIs. 

He batted .228 on the year, with 11 HRs 17 doubles & a .269 on base %. Behind the plate he allowed 101 stolen bases (second in the NL) & made eight errors (fifth most in the NL).

1994: In 1994 he began the year with two hits & an Opening Day HR in a wild 12-8 Mets win at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Later that week he hit another HR at Houston, driving in three runs in an 8-2 Mets win. 

Todd had his best month to date in April 1994, with six HRs, 13 RBIs & a .333 batting average entering May. On May 1st he hit a pair of HRs, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that series at Shea, he had five hits off Dodger pitching, with three HRs & five RBIs.

On June 18th, he hit another two HRs in a game at Florida, driving in four runs to beat the Marlins 6-1. That week Hundley, drove in seven runs & had twelve in the month. 

The baseball strike ended the season in August, Hundley hit just .237 on the year, but showed some improved with power, hitting 16 HRs with 10 doubles & 42 RBIs playing in just 91 games.

Injuries kept nagging Hundley throughout his career, his hitting was developing slowly, but The Mets organization, as well as the fans had patience with him. The potential always seemed to be there & as well as future expectations. 

1995: By 1995 he was healthier and started out Opening Day with a HR & four RBIs in the 11-9 loss at Colorado.

On May 4th, he hit a grand slam HR at Montreal, leading the Mets to a 5-1 win over the Expos. Hundley hit three HRs in the first week of that May & kept his batting average up over .290 into June. On June 18th he hit a three run HR, while driving in three runs in a 10-4 win over the Astros at Shea.

But in the month his average fell off in to the .240's. To enter July he hit six HRs in the first ten days of the month, two in a three game set against the Cincinnati Reds & then two more against the Chicago Cubs. He then hit two HRs in a three game set at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium.

Then on July 22nd he got injured & would go on the DL for six weeks, putting a big halt to a decent season. He returned in September finishing out the year batting .280 with 15 HRs 11 doubles & 51 RBIs. His on base % improved to .382% as he got more patient & drew 42 walks.

Although the Mets finished under .500 (69-75) they finished in second place behind the Atlanta Braves, who went on to win the World Series.

1996: In 1996 he had his career year, setting a single season record for most HRs by a catcher with 41, breaking Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Famer Roy Campanella’s previous mark of 40. 

The 41 HRs were also a Mets single season record & fourth best in the NL on the year.

He made the first of his two All Star teams, and set career highs in most offensive categories; 112 RBIs, 32 doubles, 140 hits, 85 runs scored, 540 at bats and he also drew more walks, 79 (9th most in the league) playing in 152 games. 

Behind the plate he was second in the NL assists (72) & third in put outs with 700. That season he struck out 146 times & would strike out over 100 times three times in his career.

Trivia: Hundley started the '96 season with a bang, going down in Mets history for hitting HRs in four straight Opening Days from 1994-1997. 

 In the 1996 Opener at Shea Stadium, he hit a two run shot in a 7-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

After hitting two more HRs on the first road trip of the year, Hundley returned to Shea & blasted HRs in back to back games against the Houston Astros. He then added a HR in each of the next two series against the Colorado Rockies & Cincinnati Reds. Overall he had a good April, with eight HRs & 21 RBIs while batting .305.

On May 17th he had huge day in San Francisco, as he bashed two HRs & drove in seven runs in a Mets 14-5 win over the Giants. That week he hit four HRs in a four game span while driving in seven runs. In the first two weeks of June he had five multi hit games, with hit six HRs & 18 RBIs.

On June 4th he hit a 1st inning two run HR, off the Braves Jason Schmidt in Atlanta. He drove in five runs that day in the Mets 12-6 win. When the Braves came to Shea, on June 10th he had a big four hit game, where he hit a pair of HRs & drove in another five runs in an 8-3 win.

On June 13th he hit a 7th inning lead off HR in St. Louis, off Andy Benes. The next batter Jeff Kent followed with a solo HR of his own, leading the Mets & Robert Person to a 2-1 win.

On June 24th, Hundley once again, hit two HRs in a game while driving in four of the Mets nine runs in a 9-4 win over the Reds. In July he hit HRs in three games, of a four game series at Montreal. That week he drove in runs in six straight games as well.

1996 All Star Game: That July he was named to his first All Star team. In the All Star Game in which Mike Piazza was the MVP, Hundley went 0-1 in an 8th inning at bat. The NL won the game 6-0 in Philadelphia.

 In the month he hit ten HRs & drove in 22 runs in the month, capped off with four round trippers in the last week of the month. On July 30th, he hit a walk off game winner against the Pittsburgh Pirates, to finish off a Mets double header sweep. 

On August 1st he had yet another five RBI game, although the Mets fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates at home 13-9. 

Hundley hit six HRs in the first eleven days of the month, including three straight games against the Cardinals at home & the Cubs in Chicago. Hundley drove in twenty runs that month but cooled off in September driving in just ten with three HRs. 

On September 2nd, he hit a HR off the Dodgers Pedro Astacio in Los Angeles. The HR tied Darryl Strawberry for the Mets single season mark of 39, set in 1987.

On September 8th in Atlanta Hundley hit his 40th HR of the year to pass Strawberry for the Mets single season mark, it came in Atlanta in a 6-2 Mets win. On September 14th, he hit his 41st HR of the year, it also came against the Atlanta Braves, but this time at home in Shea Stadium. The HR passed Hall of Famer Roy Campanella for most HRs in a season by a catcher. That 41 HR mark would also be a Mets record, tied in 2006 by Carlos Beltran.

The 1996 Mets finished up in 4th place (71-91), manager Dallas Green was replaced by Bobby Valentine in August, starting a new Mets era. 1996 was a tough act for Todd to follow, and although he did put up good numbers, 1997 wasn’t the same.

There were changes in New York as Bobby Valentine was now the manager for the entire season running things his way. He publicly criticized Hundley for drinking, smoking & partying too late in the New York night clubs. 

SNL Trivia:  In 1997 Hundley even did a cameo sketch on Saturday Night Live appearing in a scene baseball dreams with Will Ferrel, Helen Hunt & Chris Kattan as well as MLB players Greg Jeffries, Cliff Floyd, Todd Zeile, Scott Rolen, Mark Grudzielanek, Mary Cordova, Jeff Vassero, Rondell White & Mike Sweeney.

Needless to say, Valentine & Hundley did not get along too well.

On Opening day in San Diego, the Mets took a 12-5 beating, but Hundley highlighted the Mets offense with another Opening Day HR, two run shot. On April 23rd he hit his fourth & fifth HRs of the month, driving in five runs in a 10-6 win in Cincinnati. 

On May 5th in Colorado Coors Field, he hit two more HRs & had another five RBI day in a 6-1 Mets win. The next night he hit another HR & drove in three more runs, although the Mets lost 12-11 in a mile high scoring contest. 

In the first eight games of May, Hundley drove in 14 runs & won the NL Player of the Week Award. He continued to hit well, with seven HRs in June & seven multi hit games.

In July he got his average over the .300 mark, adding another two HR, five RBI day on July 20th against the Reds in a 10-1 Mets win at Shea. On August 23rd he blasted a grand slam HR, in the 7th inning off the Padres Sean Bergman, in a 9-5 Mets win at Shea. 

The 1997 Mets improved to a third place finish, at 88-74 under Valentine. Hundley would make his second All Star team, hit 30 HRs with 21 doubles 86 RBIs & hit for a better average (.273). He posted career highs in on base % (.394%) & walks (83). Behind the plate he threw out 24% of would be base stealer's.

In 1998 he had a career threatening elbow injury that put him on the DL for a long while. Next thing he knew the Mets acquired Mike Piazza, and although the team said Hundley was still in their plans the writing was on the wall. Piazza was here to stay and change the face of the organization.

Hundley made a brief attempt to play left field (34 games) but that didn’t work out, he made five errors in 49 chances (4th most for left fielders). After playing in only 53 games with a .151 average he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Roger Cedeno & Charles Johnson.

Mets All Time Leader Board: In his Mets career he played in 829 games (19th all time) with 124 HRs (8th all time) 397 RBIs (14th all time) 118 doubles (20th all time) & a .323 on base %.

Hundley has caught the third most games all time in Mets history with 745.

In L.A. he did hit 24 HRs two years in a row, but only drove in 55 runs and batted a lowly .207 in 1999.

In 2000 he brought his average up to .284 with 24 HRs & 70 RBIs playing in only 90 games. That season he became the first visiting player to hit a home run into McCovey Cove at San Francisco’s new Pac Bell Park. 

He went to his dad’s old team the Chicago Cubs in 2001, and like father like son became the teams catcher sharing time with Joe Girardi.

In two years at Wrigley he averaged 14 HRs but only managed to hit a bat .211 in 2002. He had an ugly situation & angered the Cubs fans when they got on him when he wasn't hitting. 

Drama: In a game against the Cincinnati Reds he gave the fans the middle finger after rounding third base on a HR. He said he aimed it at the Reds fans who were heckling him but no one seemed to buy the story.

 He had one final chance at a comeback in L.A. playing in 21 games in 2003 but was done after hitting .189.

In 2007 Hundley was named in the Mitchell Report for steroid use.

In 1225 lifetime games spanning 14 seasons, he batted .234 with 883 hits with 202 HRs 167 doubles 599 RBIs and a .320 on base %.

Behind the plate he has a lifetime .988 fielding %, throwing out 25% of would be base stealers, while allowing 793 stolen bases (61st most all time). He caught 1096 games caught (89th all time) with 6535 put outs (51st all time).

todd hundley's father: randy hundley:

Cecil Randolph Hundley known as Randy with the nick name of Rebel. He began his career with brief appearances for the San Francisco Giants in 1964 & 1965. 

In December of '65 he was involved in a big trade going to the Chicago Cubs along with New Jersey born pitcher Bill Hands, for Don Landrum & Lindy McDaniel.

Hundley came in fourth in 1966 for the Rookie of the Year voting, hitting a career high 19 HRs with 22 doubles & 63 RBIs batting .236.

He then was the Chicago Cubs main catcher from 1966- 1973 before moving on to the Minnesota Twins (1974) San Diego Padres (1975) & back to the Cubs (1976 & 1977) finishing his career in 1977.

He was a lifetime .236 hitter with 813 hits 82 HRs 118 doubles 13 triples & 381 RBIs. He had one of his best seasons in the classic 1969 season, his Cubs falling to the Amazing  Mets in that summers' pennant race. Hundley had 18 HRs 15 doubles 64 RBIs & a .255 batting average. 

He was a onetime Gold Glove winner (1967) & All Star catcher (1969) with great defensive abilities. He threw out 50% of would be base stealers four different times in his career, leading the league twice in throwing out base stealers.

From 1966-1969 he led the league each year in most games behind the plate. He would also lead the league in assists twice (1966/1969) put outs once (1967), caught stealing % once (1974) & fielding one time as well (1972).

In 14 seasons total he threw out 42% of runners trying to steal, while posting a .988 fielding percentage (80th all time) in 1026 games caught.

Retirement: Randy has been a part time radio broadcaster for the Cubs for many years.

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