Mackey Sasser: Late 1980's -1990's Mets Catcher (1988-1992)

Mack Daniel Sasser was born August 3, 1962, at Fort Gaines, Georgia. The six-foot one left-handed batter attended Troy State University. There he still holds the school record for most at bats by a player making it to the big leagues. 

Sasser was originally an outfielder, getting drafted in the fifth round of the 1984 draft by the San Francisco Giants.

In 1985 at A ball Fresno, he was fourth in the California league in batting (.338) & fourth in RBIs (102). He hit .293 the next year at AA Shreveport, getting promoted to AAA Phoenix in 1987 where he continued to hit, batting .318.

MLB Debut: That year he also made his MLB debut with the Giants but was soon traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Don Robinson & cash on July 31st. 

He finished the season batting .185 playing in just 14 games at the big-league level. In the off season he was sent to the New York Mets for prospect Randy Milligan.

1988 NL Eastern Champion Season: In Spring Training 1988, Sasser impressed, & beat out Barry Lyons for the backup catching job, behind Gary Carter. On April 10th, he made his Mets debut as a defensive replacement in a 4-3 Mets win at Philadelphia.

On April 19th he got his first Mets hit as a pinch hitter at Shea Stadium. The next night he got his first start behind the plate, catching Bobby Ojeda. Sasser got two hits including a double in the Mets loss.

On May 14th he hit his first career HR, it came in San Francisco off Mike Kruko in another losing effort. Sasser drove in a run in three of the next four games he played in. He kept his batting average up to .300 by the end of May.

In late June he started seeing more action as Gary Carter's age was catching up to him. Sasser drove in ten runs in 25 games in June & July.

On June 29th, he had a pinch-hit sac fly to tie up a game against the Pirates. The Mets went on to a win that night. On July 1st, he hit a rare triple off Joaquin Andujar at Shea Stadium. The hit drove in Darryl Strawberry in what was the games winning run in the first game of a double header.  On July 22nd he hit a pair of double driving in wo runs in the Mets 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.

From there he slumped to the end of September as his average fell to .245. In the last week of the season, he had a resurgence, getting seven hits over three game stretch.

On September 25th, Sasser had a four RBI Day in St. Louis while gathering up three hits, one double & a walk in the Mets 9-7 win. 

He finished the year batting .285 with one HR, ten doubles, a .313 on base % & 17 RBIs in 60 games played. 

Behind the plate he made six errors (.970 fielding %) & only threw out 22% of base runners attempting to steal. He did not play in the post season.

1989: Gary Carter spent even more time on the disabled list this season & Sasser saw action in 62 games behind the plate (72 games) overall sharing time with Barry Lyons. Defensively, Sasser improved to a .992 fielding % & threw out 29% of runners attempting to steal.

 On May 13th he hit his only HR of the year, it came off Ed Whitson & the San Diego Padres. The two-run shot in the home second inning, led the Mets to a 3-2 win. 

He didn't begin to see much playing time until June, and quickly got himself batting over .300. That June he drove in runs in six of seven games in the middle of the month.

Toward the end of July, he had another hot streak where he drove in seven runs with six hits, over a six-game stretch keeping his average well above .300. 

In 182 at bats, he batted .291 with one HR, 14 doubles a .316 on base % & 22 RBIs.

1990: Gary Carter’s days in New York were over by 1990 & Barry Lyons won over the main catcher’s job at first. But Lyons struggled through injuries, and Sasser was a better hitter. Sasser took over the position once again. He caught 87 games that season, leading all NL catchers with 14 errors, while posting a .975 fielding %.

Home Plate Collision Drama: That July he got run over during a home plate in a collision with the Atlanta Braves Jim Presley. He already had had other home plate collisions adding to his troubles. After that point, Sasser developed a serious mental problem where he would double pump his arm on his throws back to the pitcher.

Strangely it didn’t seem to affect him throwing out base runners who were attempting to steal. Neither he nor the Mets medical staff could figure out what was going on. So became the legend of in which Mackey Sasser will always be remembered.

On May 6th he helped the Mets come back from a four-run deficit, hitting a three run HR off Mark Portugal to tie the game against the Houston Astros. The Mets hit five HRs in that second game of a double header sweep. 

On May 11th, he doubled off Mike Hartley driving in two runs in a 9-4 win over the L.A. Dodgers. At the end of June into July he hit safely in 19 of 22 games topping his average up at .336.

On July 6th, he had a four RBI Day at Atlanta, capped off by a three-run 9th inning HR in the 10-3 Mets win. The following day he came back to drive in three more runs, but it was all the Mets could score in the 4-3 loss.

On July 24th, Sasser had a huge day in Philadelphia, hitting two HRs driving in four runs while gathering up three hits in a 7-4 Mets win. On July 29th Sasser hit a grand slam HR off St. Louis's Jose Deleon, helping Doc Gooden to a 6-0 shutout in front of 42,000 at Shea Stadium. Sasser peaked at a .350 batting average before leveling off to .307 in the final months of the season.

Overall at the plate he had his best year batting .307 (second on the team to Dave Magadan) with 6 HRs 14 doubles a .344 on base % & 41 RBIs in 270 at bats. 

1991: By now the double clutch throwing issue was becoming a real problem. At first, he tried psychotherapy & yoga exercises but neither one worked. Veteran catcher Rick Cerone was brought in to split the catching duties with Sasser. 

The Mets wanted Sasser's bat in the lineup & even tried putting him in the outfield for 21 games, as well as at first base for 14 games. In 21 games in the outfield, he posted a .967 fielding % & made three assists.

On May 31st he hit a three run HR in St. Louis helping the Mets to a 10-5 win. 

On July 17th, he had two sac fly RBI's in a game against the San Francisco Giants, including a walk off foul ball sac fly off Dave Righetti, giving the Mets a dramatic win over the Giants. 

Two days later he had a big four hit, five RBI Day against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which included a two run HR.

Once again Sasser was hitting, staying over the .300 mark into August. 

On August 26th Sasser broke a 4-4 tie in Houston, with a tenth inning RBI double leading the Mets to a 6-4 win. 

In September he drove in eleven runs, but the Mets had fallen to fifth place & manager Bud Harrelson got replaced by Mike Cubbage.

Overall, in 96 games Sasser batted .272 (fourth best on the club) with 5 HRs & 35 RBIs. 

1992: By this season his average had dropped to .241 and the Todd Hundley era was about to begin behind the plate for the Mets. Sasser played in 92 games with two HRs 18 RBIs a .248 on base %. He became a free agent, and the Mets did not peruse him.

Post Mets Career: He ended up with the Seattle Mariners backing up catcher Dave Valle, batting .218 in 83 games. He played briefly the next two seasons and his career was over by 1995 at age 33. 

Career Stats: He finished a nine-season career batting .267 lifetime with 317 hits 16 HRs 69 doubles 7 triples a .296 on base % & 156 RBIs. Defensively he posted a .987 fielding percentage & threw out 27% of would-be base stealers.

Retirement: Sasser became a long-time baseball coach at Wallace Community College in Alabama. 

He was still having problems with the throwing & it was occasionally interfering with him throwing batting practice.

Therapy: A friend suggested he seek help from a Long Island psychotherapist & by 2007 they appeared to have worked out the issues. 

A psychological mental block had occurred from the home plate collision in 1990, as well as other situations earlier in his life. Through therapy Sasser believes he is finally cured of the problem.

Family: Sasser & his wife Terra, live in Dothan Alabama, with their children.


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