On October 10, 1961, the Mets and the Colt 45s, like a couple of captains of the school yard, got to pick their teams. But the fast kids, the strong kids, the able kids had not come out to play.
"I figured the list of players would be bad," griped Paul Richards, Houston's GM. "But they're worse than I thought they'd be."
For the expansion draft, each major league club was required to make 15 players available from their 40-man roster, including seven from their 25-man roster as it stood on August 31, 1961. Keenly aware of the ground rules, teams constructed crazy 25-man rosters for the one late-August game and kept prospects far as possible from the 40-man list. The four "premium" players the Mets nabbed were pitcher Jay Hook, pitcher Bob Miller, infielder Don Zimmer, and infielder-outfielder Lee Walls. Together they failed to accumulate one WAR as Mets.
In fact the draft was proved so farcical by the new clubs' combined 104-216 debut that a second round followed the 1963 season. Still, Houston manage to be 24 games better than the Mets in '62. It wasn't all lost, though, as the Mets did pick old Brooklyn favorite Gil Hodges, on his very last legs. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
- Former super-prospect Fernando Martinez, 24 today, played 41 games in the majors and 90 in the minors this year, for the Astros and their AAA affiliate -- a ton of games by his standard. And he slugged .507 in the minors and .466 in the show. He had cups of coffee three consecutive years in Queens before Houston nabbed him from the waiver wire this past January.
- Jeurys Familia, 23 today, is the subject of a red hot debate at AmazinAvenue.com! The right-handed rookie, a native of Santa Domingo, D.R., made a four-inning, shutout first start for the Mets but also walked six hitters: Jeurys in a nutshell or a still-flowering bud? Sickels has a nice profile.
- Grover Powell wore #41 for the 1963 Mets. In the lefty's only year in the majors he made four starts, pitched 49.2 innings, struck out 39, walked 32, and posted a 2.72 ERA. It being the '63 Mets, this was a stellar showing. In his first start he pitched a four-hit shutout. In the second he was hit in the face with a line drive, a harbinger of injury woes that would swallow up his career, though he long toiled in the minors. Sadly, he died of cancer at 44. Seems like an interesting guy -- was kicked out of UPenn for being disruptive.
- Ramon Martinez, 40 today, has worn nine different numbers in his major league career, including three seperate numbers with the 2008-2009 Mets. A utility infielder, Ramon got into 19 games those years and had a 33 OPS+.
- Elvin Ramirez, 25 today, has a mid-to-high-90s heater than blasted apart minor league hitter this year. He was the Nationals first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft but was later returned to the Mets, though he made no immediate positive impact with the big league club, walking 20 in 21.1 innings. Another birthday isn't a good thing for Elvin, but one to watch.