Kevin Mitchell, the rookie who Gary Carter nicknamed "World" due to his ability to play just about anywhere on the diamond, turns 51 today. Of course, Kid and World will be forever linked in Mets history for reasons other than playful monikers. Mitchell followed Carter's two-out, tenth-inning single in Game Six of the 1986 World Series with one of his own, helping keep the team's slim comeback hopes alive. He would later tie things up by scampering home on Bob Stanley's wild pitch.
Despite playing a pivotal role in perhaps the greatest moment of the franchise (and being the subject of the best card in the classic 1987 Topps set), Mitchell gained more notoriety off the field than on it as a Met. In his 1999 autobiography, Heat, Dwight Gooden alleges he was present when the utility man decapitated his girlfriend's cat during an argument. Mitchell has denied the incident, but Mets management was concerned enough with his documented behavior (detailed in the last graf of this article) to trade him to the Padres for Kevin McReynolds before the 1987 season. In turn, San Diego would send him up the California coast to San Francisco after just 62 games. That's where Mitchell found the most success, winning the 1989 MVP award making one of the most ridiculous catches ever caught on camera.
Elmer Dessens is 42. The pitcher from Hermosillo, Mexico Desesens-itized Mets fans from 2009 until his retirement one year later. The rare soft-tossing righty, Elmer went 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 81 relief appearances despite walking nearly as many batters as he struck out and sporting a fastball that couldn't get a speeding ticket on most interstates.
The Mets selected two future trade chips in the old January phase of the amateur draft on this date. In the fifth round of the 1971 draft, the team plucked catcher Francisco Estrada from out of the Mexican League. In his lone year with the Mets, the receptor hit .256/.330/.410 with 13 home runs in the minors and went one-for-two with the big league club before being shipped to the Angels along with Nolan Ryan.
A decade later, the Mets made outfielder Herm Winningham their first pick in the January Secondary. Winningham worked his way up the minor league ladder and eventually debuted with the Mets in September 1984. He went 5-for-10 against the Expos in the last two games of the season, which impressed Montreal brass enough that they demanded his inclusion in the trade that made Gary Carter a Met.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On January 13, 1794, President George Washington approved a declaration that added two stars and two stripes to the American flag in honor of new states Vermont and Kentucky. Though the two additions to the union lost their stripes when the banner was revamped in 1818, their stars remain. The closest thing the Mets have had to stars from said states are Louisville's Gus Bell, who played in four midsummer classics prior to joining the '62 Mets, and Dartmouth grad Mike Remlinger, who pitched for the Mets in 1994-95 and later represented the Braves at the 2002 All-Star Game.