This Date in Mets History: August 27 — Ayala Homers in First At-Bat, Brian McRae Shows League-Average Aging Skills

Not even Brian McRae can outrun Father Time (David Seelig / Getty Images)

It took Benny Ayala all of one at-bat in the bigs to do something no New York Mets rookie had done before. Making his debut on this date in 1974, Ayala drove a 3-1 pitch from Tom Griffin of the Astros over the Shea Stadium wall, making him the first Met and 40th player in MLB history to homer in his maiden plate appearance. Ayala's day began in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he was preparing to suit up for the Tidewater Tides when the parent club called in need of a warm body to replace the injured Cleon Jones in the evening's lineup. Ayala arrived at Shea with just enough time to grab a uniform and a doughnut–though "no coffee" as he later told reporters–before first pitch. Mere Minutes after that, his hotter-than-room temperature corporeal form was making a round trip around the bases. Since Benny's opening address, three other Mets have achieved the feat: Mike Fitzgerald, Kaz Matsui, and Mike Jacobs.

Birthdays

  • Mike Maddux turns 51 today. Mike pitched for the Mets from 1993 to 1994, compiling a 5-9 record with an ERA of 4.16 in 85 relief appearances. Over the same time span, his younger brother Greg was 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA against New York, meaning the Maddux boys were directly responsible for eight percent of Met losses in those two seasons.
  • Brian McRae (1997-99) is 45. McRae led the 1998 Mets in triples, stolen bases, and strikeouts. His Wikipedia page might lead the league in passive aggressive editorial copy. Below are the three best examples:
  1. "He had a good history of injury avoidance, playing in 150 or more games in five different seasons."
  2. "1993 was his best offensive seasons with the Royals in several categories but he also logged a career-worst 105 strikeouts."
  3. "McRae's statistics stayed largely below the league average for the rest of the season. The Mets missed the postseason for the ninth consecutive season."

Transactions
The Mets lost and gained All-Star pitchers on this date. On August 27, 1992, the Mets sent David Cone, their lone All-Star representative for the year, to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. GM Al Harazin did well to extract more than fair value for his ace, as Kent went on to have a borderline Hall of Fame career, amassing over 50 wins above replacement according to Baseball Reference. Unfortunately, all but 7.7 of those rWAR came for teams other than the Mets.

In 1964, Red Murff, a scout working the southwestern beat saw something others didn't in a hefty lefty playing ball at El Paso's Fort Bliss. Per Murff's advice, the youngster shed the extra pounds and, after his military discharge, signed with the Mets on August 27. Four years later, a svelte Jerry Koosman closed out the 1968 All-Star Game for the NL en route to a 19-win rookie campaign.

Game of Note
Jerry Koosman was pretty good in 1969, too. Facing the Padres on August 27, the lefty picked up two hits at the plate and allowed just two hits on the mound, helping the Mets to a 4-1 win and a three-game sweep of the lowly expansion team. Koosman's gem was also the third consecutive complete game for Mets pitchers, as Kooz, Jim McAndrew, and Tom Seaver combined to limit San Diego to 15 base runners and four earned runs over 27 innings of relatively easy work.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, advocate of the Great Society, and wager of the War on Poverty, would have been 104 today. According to the New York Times, Mets second baseman and Texan Ken Boswell used his World Series bonus to buy a house on the Pedernales that was "a fair piece downriver" from the LBJ Ranch.

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