Robert Leon "Butch" Huskey, beloved by many Mets fans (and derided by quiet a few as well), was sent packing on this date in 1998. Huskey had one of the most colorful and aptly descriptive names in Mets history, given his 6’-3" frame and weight generously listed as 244 lbs.
He received a real baptism by fire in his big league debut on Sept. 8, 1993. That night in Houston the Astros' Darryl Kile no-hit the Mets, with Huskey whiffing in all three of this plate appearances. Did I mention that it was also Butch’s 21st birthday?
A monster spring training in 1996 prompted manager Dallas Green to thrust the rookie into the role of cleanup hitter, where he pressed and struggled. Moved lower in the batting order he improved, ended up with a fairly productive season and followed that with an even better one in 1997, including 24 HRs, 81 RBI and .503 SLG. On June 16 of that year, while Dave Mlicki was baffling the Yankees, Butch became the Mets first official designated hitter.
Injuries, subpar defensive skills and the acquisitions of Roger Cedeno and Bobby Bonilla(!) cut his Mets career short. He was traded to Seattle for Leslie Brea, a pitcher with impressive strikeout numbers but little else on his resume to recommend him.
Huskey should have been the last Met to wear the number 42 (unilaterally retired to honor Jackie Robinson), but the ill-conceived signing of Mo Vaughn in 2002 deprived him of that distinction. He was, however, the last Seattle Mariner to do so.
Darryl Strawberry and birthday boy Tucker Ashford, 58, were both first-round draft picks, both have surnames unique among all who have ever played in the majors, and both made their Mets debut on the same night (May 6, 1983). The similarities end there.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Stan Jefferson, who turns 50 today, is a more typical example of the Mets’ collection of first-round draft picks than is Strawberry. Jefferson’s "Mets moment" was scoring the insurance run as a pinch runner in the team’s 1986 division clincher.
Happy 27th birthday to Carlos Gomez. In 2007, the Mets won the first seven games in which he was in the starting lineup, including the first of many "three Carloses" games with Beltran and Delgado. A key component in the Johan Santana deal, the OBP-challenged speedster and defensive whiz was the only one of four (count ‘em, four) Carlos Gomezes drafted by the Mets over the years who ever made it to the big show.
On this date one year ago, free agent Jose Reyes signed a six-year, $60 million deal to play for the Miami Marlins, attracted in part by South Florida’s large Latino population. There is no truth to the rumor that Dr. Phil recently called the new Toronto shortstop to ask him, "How's that workin' for ya?"
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On Dec. 4, 1964, The Beatles released their fourth album in the U.K., Beatles For Sale, the songs from which would wind up on two U.S. releases, Beatles ’65 and Beatles VI. Those albums were riding high on the charts when the Fab Four inaugurated Shea Stadium as a concert venue on Aug. 15, 1965. The last of five acts on the bill, their set was short by today’s standards–it ran barely over half an hour, or the average time between two Steve Trachsel pitches.