This Date In Mets History: December 19 — Chip Ambres Is Born And Destiny Awaits

Was Citi Field's "Touch Boutique" owner present for the "Chip Ambres Moment"? - Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images Entertainment

His moment in the sun inspired a new entry in Gary Cohen’s lexicon.

Outfielder Chip Ambres, who turns 33 today, made his mark as a Met on the afternoon of July 22, 2007. Having been inserted for defense in the ninth inning of a tie game in Los Angeles, he found himself up at bat in the top of the 10th with two out and runners at the corners. In this, only his third plate appearance as a Met, he grounded a single just out of the reach of Nomar Garciaparra to score Lastings Milledge with what would prove to be the winning run.

It wasn't exactly a walk-off home run and Ambres, who had been called up for the Dodgers series only because Damion Easley had been placed on the bereavement list, returned to AAA New Orleans the next day, never to play for the Mets again. It wasn’t long, however, before play-by-play man Gary Cohen began referring to any such singular contribution by a here-today/gone-tomorrow player as a “Chip Ambres Moment.”

Ambres, who failed to impress the Royals in a three-month stint in 2005, finished his major league career as a September call-up with the 2008 Padres. Ten years earlier, at age 18, he was a first-round draft pick by the Marlins. The Mets passed over him in favor of Jason Tyner. Tyner did have a slightly longer tenure with the Mets than Ambres and a much more extensive major league career, but no one, to my knowledge, has ever spoken of a “Jason Tyner Moment.”

Birthdays

Happy 68th birthday to lefty Rob Gardner, who had a cup of coffee with the Mets in late 1965 that included a start in which he pitched 15 scoreless innings of an 18-inning game. Promoted to the starting rotation in 1966, he alternated between impressive and brutal outings until he was all but banished to the bullpen by the All-Star break. Several years later as a Yankee he was twice traded to Oakland for an Alou: in April ’71 for Felipe and November ’72 for Matty.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connections

On Dec. 19, 1776, Thomas Paine published his first "American Crisis" essay. It begins, "These are the times that try men's souls” — which could become the theme for the 2013 season. On a more optimistic note, the second sentence concludes: “…we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Alyssa Milano, owner of the Touch Boutique at Citi Field, turns 40 today. Being a Dodger fan, she might well have been at the aforementioned “Chip Ambres Moment” game. We were thinking how great it would be if the “Charmed” star could channel her spellbinding Phoebe character and levitate the Mets up from the doldrums and into contention.

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