Greg Jefferies: Late 1980's Mets Infielder (1987-1991)

Greg Scott Jeffries was born August 2, 1967 at Burlingame, California. Jeffries was drafted right out of high school in San Mateo, California, in the first round (20th pick overall) in 1985.

He became a minor league success right away, winning two minor league MVP Awards & a Player of the Year Award. He was hyped up as the next great Mets hitter, even manager Davey Johnson said “he could hit .300 on his head”. Jefferies was one of the first players to be praised by Baseball America, as the Player of the Year in 1986 & 1987.

In 1987 he batted .367 at AAA Tidewater with 20 HRs & 101 RBIs.

MLB Debut: In September of 1987, at age 19 Jefferies got a September call up, debuting in Los Angeles going hitless on September 6th. Overall, in six games he was 3-6 as a pinch hitter on the season. 

The next year, he spent most of the year at AAA Tidewater because there was nowhere to put him on the talented big league club. He hit .282 at AAA Tidewater.

1988 NL Eastern Champs: The Mets promoted him at the end of August, to prep him for the playoffs. He went on a tear right away, getting nine hits in his first five games, batting .475. 

In his first game on August 28th, he doubled in a 7-4 Mets loss to the Giants. On August 29th his second game of the season, he hit a two run HR off the Padres Eric Show, in the Mets 6-0 win over San Diego at Shea Stadium.  He also doubled for the second straight game. 

In the first nine days of September, he hit four HRs driving in seven runs. On September 2nd, he collected three hits including a HR & another double off Tim Leary, in an 8-0 win over the Dodgers.

In the Mets Road trip, his two run HR was only Mets runs of 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh. On September 8th, he had the first of two straight three hit games where he hit a HR. On September 12thm he drove in a run in a 3-2 win where Gary Carter hit a walk off HR off the Pirates Jeff Robinson.

Walk Off Hit: On September 16th, Jefferies' came to bat against the Expos' Joe Hesketh in the bottom of the 9th in a 3-3 tie game. His base hit to centerfield scored Keith Miller with a walk off game winner to defeat 4-3. 

Jefferies would stay hot all through the September Pennant race, batting .321 in 109 at bats, with 6 HRs, 8 doubles & 17 RBIs. Although he only played 29 games, he did receive votes for the Rookie of the Year Award.

1988 Post Season- NLCS: He played in all seven games of the 1988, NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Playing mostly at third base, while slugger Howard Johnson moved over to short stop. 

In Game #1 he collected three hits & scored a run. With the Mets down 2-0 in the top of the 9th inning at Dodger Stadium, Jeffries led off with a single off Orel Hershiser. 

He advanced & then scored on Darryl Strawberry's double. The Mets went ahead on Gary Carter's two run double to win the first game 3-2.

Jeffries got a hit in the next two games as well, while drawing walks each time, as well as in Game #4.

In the Mets Game #5 loss at Shea Stadium, he collected two hits & drove in a run. In the bottom of the 8th with the Mets down 6-3, Jefferies singled to bring home Lenny Dykstra with the Mets fourth run. But with Kevin McReynolds up he was struck by a batted ball on the basepaths & was ruled out.

After going hitless in Game #6 at L.A. he collected two of the Mets five hits off Orel Hershiser in the final Game #7 loss. Overall, Jefferies batted .333 (9-27) with two doubles, an RBI & four walks. It would be his only post season appearance.

1989: The Mets had to find a place for him on the field and ended up trading away the popular Wally Backman to open up the second base spot. This upset the core players from the 1986 Championship team.

Greg Jeffries found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated & with a Starting Lineup Action figure before he even played one full season.

After two hits on Opening Day, Jeffries struggled in 1989 not getting over the .200 mark until late June. On June 15th he won the game with a walk off single beating the Chicago Cubs 4-3. The next day he homered & drove in four runs in the Mets wild 15-11 win at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

He hit well in July raising up is average while hitting safely in 16 of twenty games. In August he missed a week of action & didn't produce. He drove in just three runs the whole month.

On September 7th he had his biggest day of the year, hitting a pair of HRs & driving in five runs in a 13-1 Mets romp over the St. Louis Cards at Shea.

On the year the Mets finished second six games behind the Chicago Cubs, Jefferies batted only .258 with 12 HRs 28 doubles 56 RBIs while posting a .314 on base %. He stole an impressive 21 bases playing in 141 games. At second base he made 12 errors posting a .975 fielding % turning 41 double plays.

Black Bats: Jefferies had his own custom made black SSK bats. He kept them in his own equipment bag & didn't want them dropped in the pile of other player bats. After each game he cleaned them with rubbing alcohol. This was another thing irked the other players. His locker was placed next to Keith Hernandez who tried to school him on things bit Jefferies was his own player.

1990: This season things did get better, he led the NL in doubles (40) and raised his average up to .283, with 15 HRs, 68 RBIs scoring 96 runs. But the fans still wanted more due to the hype he had received early on. The Mets finished second once again, this time four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, which also frustrated the fans.

Jefferies became a target of the team's inability to capture the NL East in the past two seasons. He got hot from June 7th through June 14th in the midst of a twelve-game hit streak, driving in eight runs with five straight multi-hit games. 

On June 24th, he led the Mets with a HR & four RBIs to beat the Phillies 6-5 at Shea Stadium.

Throughout the summer he was hitting above .300 most of the time, driving in runs in five straight games two separate times. On August 3rd, he topped off a Mets top of the 9th inning three run rally in St. Louis, driving in the winning run with a single off reliever Lee Smith.

A week later his three RBIs helped the Mets beat the Phillies 8-4 at Shea Stadium. 
In September he fell from a .297 average to finish the year at .282. At second he posted a .976 fielding % making 12 errors turning 49 double plays.

1991: On Opening Day drove in the Mets first run of the year with a first inning double, leading to a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. 

On April 20th he broke a 1-1 tie in Montreal with an 8th inning double scoring the game winning run. After missing the first two weeks in May he hit safely in 12 of 14 games raising his average up to .284.

Dramas: Jefferies did not adapt to the pressures of playing in New York so easily, especially when times were bad. He had gotten a reputation for complaining, being a cry baby in situations when he would throw his bat or toss things in frustration. 

He criticized Darryl Strawberry for wanting the limelight. His manager Davey Johnson felt he would walk to slowly to the dugout after making an out. He was even seen as not hustling or giving it his all.

Open Letter to WFAN: Jefferies wrote an open letter to Sports Radio 66 WFAN, when it was a fairly new radio station with the all sports format.

 In it he defended himself, for caring too much, not being considered a friend by his teammates & not anointing himself as the future of the Mets, a label put on him by management & the media.

He criticized his teammates for not supporting him. Stating that he supports them if needed & he does not belittle then in the media like what is done to him. 

He claimed he always took responsibility for his actions, mistakes & errors. He plays where he is told to play by management & always gives the fans 100%.

This only buried him deeper & the fans let him have it. He heard the boos loudly at Shea when he didn’t do well.

After this became public, the Mets held a team meeting that got heated at times. The team moved on & at the time were just two games out of first. They competed in the first half but a horrible second half had them finish fifth, their worst in eight seasons.

In July he missed another week of action, then returned to drive in ten runs in the week of his return. As the season went on he kept status quo finishing the year at.272 with 19 doubles, 9 HRs & 62 RBIs & a .336 on base % in 136 games.

His time was up in New York, and he was traded with Kevin McReynolds & Keith Miller to the 
Kansas City Royals for All Star pitcher Bret Saberhagen.

Looking back at the era Jefferies played in, it was hard for him to adapt on a team that lived hard, played hard, harassed the youngsters coming up to toughen them up & were expected to win. The media was rough & the fans even rougher expecting to produce & win.

Time heals most wounds & looking back he forgives his teammates. Ron Darling said looking back Gregg was ahead of his time in the way players evolved.

Quotes- Gregg Jefferies: " That was the era. It's not their job to coddle me. Thay had enough pressure on their plate. You don't think Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry & Gary Carter had pressure. They were the face of New York. Thay had their own issues. I needed to take care of me. I had to learn as I was playing."

Mets Career Stats: In his five-year Mets career he played in 465 games (56th on the Mets all-time list), batted .276 with 472 hits 42 HRs 96 doubles 205 RBIs & a .332 on base %.

Post Mets Career: Jefferies hit .285 with 10 HRs & 75 RBIs in one season at Kansas City, then got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Felix Jose & Craig Wilson.

Cardinals Career: In St. Louis he moved over to play first base and had his best career year. He hit .342 (3rd in the NL) with a .408 on base % 16 HRs 24 doubles 83 RBIs & 89 runs scored. He made the first of two straight All-Star team's that season & the next as well.

In the 1994 strike shortened season he hit .325 (7th in the NL) with 12 HRs 55 RBIs. After off season contract disputes with Cardinals management & was let go to free agency. 

Phillies Career: He signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies fir 1995. In Philly, Jefferies continued with his fine hitting, once again landing in the top ten in
batting hitting .306, bashing 31 doubles. On August 25th he hit for the cycle in a game against the LA Dodgers. 

The following year he hit .292 playing in 104 games.

Angels & Tigers Career: By 1997 he was entering the twig light of his career, as his average fell to .256, In the middle of the 1998 season he was traded to the Anaheim Angels for a player to be named later. He finished up the year, hitting .300 but was not resigned. 

He went to the Detroit Tigers, but injuries got the best of him, making him a part time player. He played two more seasons in Detroit, finishing his 14-year career in 2000. Mananger Phil Garner offered him a bench coach job in 2001 but he declined.

Career Stats: Overall in 14 seasons with six different teams, he hit .289 lifetime, with 1593 hits, 300 doubles, 27 triples 472 walks, 126 HRs, 663 RBIs 196 stolen bases & a .344 on base %. 

Defensively Jefferies played at first base (380 games) outfield (369 games) second base (346 games) third base (277 games) & DH (48 games).

Retirement: He was living in Pleasanton, California where he was a hitting instructor at Total Players Center & opened his own Sports Academy.  He also worked in Anaheim in an instructor's role from 2017-2020.

He looks back at his time in New York, wishing he was a little more mature, saying
 the 1988
playoffs spoiled him & he misses the chance of not playing in a World Series.


Family:
Greg has been married twice & has four children. In 2015 his son Jake Jefferies was selected by the Washington Nationals. He is now married to his
 second wife Jeannie & lives in Las Vegas.


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