This photo is in favor of Banner Day. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Earlier this year, the Mets brought back Banner Day, an annual (save for the recent 16 season-long hiatus) tradition that began on this date in 1963. The inaugural event attracted over 400 entrants who proudly marched their homemade signs around the Polo Grounds turf between games of a doubleheader. As the Mets would lose both ends to the Colt .45s, the only winners were the makers of those banners selected as best by the judges. Second place finishers Mark Smith and Myron Meisner of the Bronx summed up the spirit of the day with their banner, which read simply, "This sign is in favor of the Mets".
- John Christensen (1984-85) is 52. Christensen went from one World Series contender to another when the Mets shipped him to Boston in the Bobby Ojeda deal. Unfortunately, the Red Sox flipped him to the Mariners four days before clinching the AL East pennant in 1986. The outfielder played one season in Seattle before signing with the Twins...the year after they won the World Series.
- Jason Hardtke, who turns 41 today, ended the first game he played with the Mets after his 1997 minor league recall by stroking a walk-off single. One assumes the next day's Post headline read "Die Hardtke with a Vengeance."
- Satoru Komiyama, 47, had the best season of his career in 1995 pitching for the Bobby Valentine-led Chiba Lotte Marines. Seven years later, the "Japanese Maddux" reunited with his old manager in New York. Given that Komiyama posted a 0-3 record and 5.61 ERA while wearing the orange and blue, presumably the nickname was an allusion to Mike, not Greg.
More Met birthdays after the jump...
- Pitcher John Pacella (1977, '79-80) is 56. Pacella's windup was a Calderesque tangle of arms and legs that caused his hat to fly off his head with nearly every delivery. Sadly, the lead up to Pacella's pitches were generally more entertaining than the result of them.
- A Rule 5 draftee who spent 1991 in the Mets bullpen, Doug Simons turns 46. Drummed out of stateside ball in 1996 for serving up one too many meatballs, if you will, he pitched one year for the Rimini Pirates in the Italian Baseball League before returning to the Mets organization as a Single-A pitching coach.
- Charley Smith (1964-65) would have been 75 today. Smith had a fair amount of pop for an infielder, bopping a team-high 20 homers in 1964. Late in his career, he returned to New York, as the Yankees acquired him from the Cardinals for Roger Maris in a straight up swap of fading power hitters.
Game of Note
Even in a season filled with miraculous events for the Mets, the contest they played on September 15, 1969 defies rational explanation. Facing Steve Carlton of the Cardinals, the Mets fanned 19 times to set what was then the record for most strikeouts in a nine inning game. Yet the team still hung Lefty with a 4-3 loss thanks to a pair of two-run homers from Ron Swoboda. "It was the best stuff I ever had," Carlton later told reporters, though Joseph Durso of the New York Times described his tone as that of "a sculptor who has just created a masterpiece and then accidentally chipped it."
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Allied troops fighting in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette received support from the heaviest artillery seen in the World War I so far, as the tank had its baptism by fire on this date in 1916. Though the armored fighting vehicle would become a standard weapon of warfare by the end of World War I, the Mets would not deploy a tank of their own until 1997 when they signed Todd Pratt to be the team's backup catcher.