This Date in Mets History: October 10 - You... you... and you... You're Mets now

Elsa - Getty Images

The Mets pick in the expansion draft, the '73 team heads to the World Series, and F! celebrates his 24th birthday.

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.

Birthdays

  • 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.
Game of Note

On October 10, 1973, Spiro Agnew resigned the Vice Presidency under moral threat, he later claimed, from President Nixon and his Chief of Staff. "Go Quietly... or Else," Spiro called his memoir. On the same day, Tom Seaver and the Mets offered no such escape hatch as they whipped the Reds into resignation and claimed the N.L. pennant. The game was a 2-2 tie in the fifth when Cleon Jones, Willie Mays (pinch hitting), and Bud Harrelson headed up a four run rally; Jones would collect three hits and a pair of RBI. Seaver pitched into the ninth, allowing just one earned and one unearned run, though he allowed seven hits and walked five (including his last two.) Tug McGraw stepped in with a 7-2 lead, but with the bases loaded and just one out. Pop fly. Ground out. And the Mets, for the second time in four years, are headed to the World Series!

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection

On this date in 1913, water rushed into the newly-built Panama Canal as Woodrow Wilson triggered the explosion of the Gamboa Dike. The Mets' everyday Panamanian, Ruben Tejada, grew up in Santiago de Veraguas, so close to a professional ballpark that a ball just left of the foul pole could roll nearly to the back of his house. When Ruben was 10, Panama took full control of the canal that severs his country. Cruise ships sailing the Canal can pay $115 per passenger in tolls, rivaling those paid on the Verrazano Bridge.
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