Mike Piazza. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)
Thirty-five years ago today, on July 13, 1977, a lightning bolt struck a ConEd substation in northern Westchester, starting a chain reaction of power failures that caused the blackout of 1977. At 8:37 p.m., a wave of darkness began rolling down the Hudson Valley toward New York City, reaching Shea Stadium about an hour later, just as the Mets’ Len Randle stepped into the batter’s box for his third at-bat of the night. Here’s how Randle later described the experience to the New York Times:
"I thought, ‘God, I’m gone.’ I thought for sure He was calling me. I thought it was my last at-bat."
According to that same Times article, Mets players helped illuminate the stands for an orderly evacuation of Shea by driving their cars onto the field and turning on the headlights. Two vehicles earned special mention from the paper of record: Craig Swan’s Buick and Joel Youngblood’s "customized van," the latter of which has replaced Shredgardo Alfonzo as the name of the Mets-themed jam band I want to start.
- Jack Aker (1974) is 72. Aker spent one year with the Mets as a serviceable bullpen arm before retiring to manage in the team’s minor league system. Baseball Reference’s (incomplete) salary chart says Aker made $91,500 in his playing career. Either way, it pales in comparison to the $250,000 that Wikipedia claims his wife won on an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
- Mike Fitzgerald (1983-1984) is 52. In late 1983, Fitzgerald became the the 57th player in MLB history and the second Met to homer in his first big league at-bat. Just over a year later, he was traded for another catcher who would go deep in his first game as a Met: Gary Carter.
Game Of Note
On July 13, 2001, Mike Piazza sent a Derek Lowe pitch over the fence for the 300th homer of his career. The milestone blast accounted for the only run the Mets would score in a 3-1 loss. Former Met David Cone picked up the win for the Red Sox.