New York Times/The Sporting News
Front office used Yankee ingenuity to engineer a steal of a deal.
The Mets completed the most significant trade of their first six years of existence on this date in 1967. They sent pitcher and future trivia answer Bill Denehy, plus $100,000, to the Washington Senators as compensation for Gil Hodges, who the Mets had introduced as their new manager the month before. It was the reverse of a May 1963 maneuver in which the Senators acquired Hodges to be their new skipper, with the Mets getting Jimmy Piersall in return.
The Mets’ acquisition of Hodges had been accomplished with little involvement from team president and de facto GM Bing Devine, who apparently had reservations about going after a manager still under contract to another ball club. Under Chairman M. Donald Grant’s direction, VP Johnny Murphy took the lead, exploiting the Yankee connection between himself and Washington GM George Selkirk. The two men played nine years together with the Bronx Bombers (1934-’43) and were even roommates for a time.
Selkirk must have been exceptionally fond of Murphy to get so little in return for Hodges, who the Senators knew the Mets were eager to acquire and under whose leadership his team had steadily improved year after year. Denehy’s record with the Mets in ’67 was an unimpressive 1-7 with a 4.70 ERA. In his and Washington’s defense, the right-hander was only 21 years of age and had been rushed through AAA to the bigs after two exceptional years in A and AA ball. He pitched only two innings with the Senators, however, was traded to Cleveland and later reacquired by the Mets, who sent him to Detroit. He had a decent season out of the bullpen for the Tigers in 1971, his last stint in the majors.
Left-handed reliever Raul Valdes turns 35 today. His "Mets moment" happened in St. Louis on April 17, 2010. In the top of the 18th inning of a scoreless game, Valdez had a 10-pitch at-bat that resulted in an infield hit. He fleetingly represented the tie-breaking run, but tried to take advantage of a fielding lapse and was tagged out at second when he failed to slide. Happily, the Mets won the game in the 20th inning, thanks in part to Valdes’ two scoreless innings of relief work.
Happy 51st birthday to Randy Milligan, whose Mets career was shorter than this sentence. Though compiled in only two plate appearances, his .500 OBP in 1987 was no fluke: Seven years later he finished his big league career at .391.
At 5-9, southpaw Bill Short, who turns 75 today, was indeed one of the shortest Mets players ever. It’s tempting to say that Short came up short as a short reliever for the 1968 Amazins, given his 4.85 ERA, but that number is deceptive: Half of the 16 earned runs he yielded scored in only three of his 34 appearances.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
The late country music superstar Eddie Rabbitt was born in Brooklyn, NY, on November 27, 1941. He was reportedly a favorite of 1977-’81 Mets second-baseman Doug Flynn, who himself had aspirations to be a performer and had occasion to sit in with the likes of the Oak Ridge Boys and Loretta Lynn’s band. All of the above (except Flynn) were iconic artists in the heyday of New York’s most successful country music station, WHN 1050, which also carried Mets baseball broadcasts from 1972-’74 and again from 1983 through July 1, 1987, when WHN morphed into all-sports WFAN. Among the DJs spinning those artists’ records at WHN was Del Demontreaux, who would later serve at the Mets PA announcer from 1995-’99.