Hit Dog gonna hit. (Tomasso Derosa / Getty Images)
Today's This Date in Mets History post is brought to you by the number 20. On September 16, 1976, Jerry Koosman reached the 20-win plateau for the first and only time as a Met, shutting down the Cardinals in a 4-1 victory. Kooz went the distance in this one, fanning a season-high 13 batters. After the game, the Mets celebrated the accomplishment with a champagne toast in the clubhouse. Said Koosman to reporters between sips, "It is the night of my life. This is what I have waited for since I was 16 years old."
Two decades later, on September 16, 1996, Lance Johnson tallied his 20th triple of the year, lining an offering from the Braves' Denny Neagle into Shea Stadium's wide center field expanse. With the milestone, Johnson became the first Met to sock 20 three-baggers in a season and the first National League player to do so since Willie Mays in 1957.
- Turning 30 today is the Chris Carter who played 100 games for the Mets in 2010. Not to be confused with the Chris Carter who currently plays for the Athletics. Or the one who used to catch passes for the Vikings. Or the one who created The X-Files.
- Orel Hershiser is 54. The Bulldog went 13-12 for the 1999 Mets and helped the team make the playoffs in eleven years. Of course, that doesn't make up for the fact that it was Hershiser himself who ended the Mets' previous postseason run in 1988 by hurling a complete game shutout against them in Game Seven of the NLCS.
- One-year Met wonder Desi Relaford is 39. The super sub played every infield position save first base for the 2001 teams and his 119 OPS+ was second only to Mike Piazza among regulars. Relaford even pitched an inning, too, using a 90 MPH fastball to retire the Padres 1-2-3 with a strikeout in a 15-3 blowout loss.
Tom Seaver took one of the toughest luck losses of his career on this date in 1971. Facing the cubs at Shea, Tom was terrific for nine innings, striking out eight and giving up just seven hits, six of which were of the one base variety. Unfortunately, that seventh safety, struck by Juan Pizarro, the opposing pitcher, carried over the fence for the only score in a 1-0 defeat.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On September 16, 1919, Congress granted a charter to the American Legion, allowing the organization to begin providing aid to World War I veterans. Six years later, a chapter in South Dakota founded the American Legion's baseball program, which counts among its alumni a current Met in David Wright and hopefully a future one in 2011 number one draft pick Brandon Nimmo.