David Wright rocking the yellow jersey at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Six years ago today, on July 11, 2006, the Mets sent a team-record six players to the 77th All-Star game in Pittsburgh. Carlos Beltran, Paul Lo Duca, Jose Reyes, and David Wright were voted in as starters, though Reyes sat out due to a finger injury. Pitchers Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez filled out the delegation, though they did not see in-game action either.
Of the Mets who did play, David Wright made the biggest impact. One night after placing second in the Home Run Derby, Wright provided the PNC Park faithful with yet another souvenir, lining a Kenny Rogers pitch over the fence in his first-ever All-Star Game at-bat.
Less fondly remembered among Mets fans is the 71st All-Star Game, played July 11, 2000. Mets’ rep Al Leiter took the loss after giving up a two-run, go-ahead single to Derek Jeter. What can you say? The guy’s got an edge.
Five former Mets have birthdays on July 11. Good luck finding a baseball card that features any of these one-year wonders wearing the orange and blue.
- Blaine Boyer (2011) is 31. Boyer made the Opening Day roster as a reliever last year. Ten days later and a 10.80 ERA later, the Mets released him.
- Jack Heidemann (1975-1976) is 63. In 1975, the Mets acquired Heidemann to back up their starting shortstop, Mike Phillips. Five games into the 1976 season, they traded him to the Brewers, where the starter was a youngster by the name of Robin Yount. Heidemann never played another major league game at short.
- Mark Little (2002) is 40. A Met by dint of the Jay Payton-John Thomson trade, Little went 0-for-3 in his cup of coffee with the team.
- Ted Schreiber (1963) is 74. Schreiber earned a small place in New York baseball history by making the last out of the last Mets game played at the Polo Grounds. With two on in the bottom of the ninth, Schreiber grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, ending the rally, the contest...and an era. [Cue sad-sounding strings]
- Donne Wall (2001) is 45. As a member of the 2001 Mets’ bullpen, Wall went 0-4 with a 4.85 ERA. According to Beckett.com, a near-mint 2001 Topps Traded card that features a photo of Donne in a Mets road jersey will set you back 25 cents (plus shipping).
The Mets made a domestic signing of note on July 11, 1980, granting a $200,000 bonus to their number one pick from the June draft: Darryl Strawberry. Dubbed a “pubescent baseball-striking contraption” by George Plimpton*, the Mets rushed Strawberry through the farm system. Promoted to Double-A by age 20 despite never slugging above .500, Darryl amassed fewer than 650 plate appearances in the high minors before being called up. Strawberry played in 150+ games just three times for the big league club and, after eight injury-plagued seasons, the Mets opted to sever ties with yet another disappointing former prospect.
*Not factually accurate, but it feels true.
On July 11, 2005, the Mets signed international free agent Fernando Martinez for $1.4 million. Once labeled a teenage “hitting machine” by Ken Rosenthal, Martinez is now well past the legal drinking age and a member of the Astros organization.
Exactly one year later, on July 11, 2006, the Mets came to terms with another international free agent: Ruben Tejada. Though never touted as highly as Martinez, Tejada has put up above replacement-level numbers the last two years, something the former Teenage Hitting Machine™ has yet to do.
Game Of Note
On July 11, 1985, Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan (a former Met) fanned the Mets’ Danny Heep (a former Astro) to become the first pitcher in MLB history to reach 4,000 career strikeouts. Ryan finished the night with 11 Ks, but took a no-decision after allowing a game-tying single to Gary Carter in his seventh and final inning of work. Excellent relief pitching by both teams kept the game knotted at 3-3 until the bottom of the twelfth, when Bill Doran’s single off of Tom Gorman drove home Dickie Thon with the winning run. Dickie be hated.