In 1980, when Darryl Strawberry was an 18-year old patrolling the outfield for Crenshaw High School, his coach called him the "black Ted Williams." Though Straw had a fine career, he ultimately fell a bit short of those lofty expectations. Whereas the Red Sox great was a near-unanimous inductee to Cooperstown, Darryl picked up just six votes in his only year of eligibility and slipped off the Hall of Fame ballot for good on this date in 2005.
Still, none of that should detract from what Strawberry did in the big leagues, especially the time he spent as a Met. According to JAWS, he accumulated 32.9 WAR in his seven year peak (six years of which came while with New York), a mark that would be be below-average for a Hall of Fame right fielder, but not the worst among those enshrined. By advanced metrics, Darryl's case compares favorably to that of Dave Parker (35.9 peak WAR), another player who isn't bronze plaque worthy, yet received enough support to remain on the ballot for the full 15 years. In a perfect world, Strawberry indeed would have developed into the Mets' version of the Splendid Splinter, a player that Flushing fans bade adieu to only after dropping one more long, loping fly into the right field bullpen at Shea. In a world slightly better than this one, Darryl would have been granted a slower fade into the shadows of time's ever-encroaching gloaming.
- Today's the 50th birthday of outfielder Daryl Boston. Picked up on waivers five games into the 1990 season, the former first round pick had the best three years of his career as a Met. In just over 1,000 plate appearances with New York, Boston put up a solid .266/.338/.429 line and, most memorably, helped the Amazins win a 1-0, 13-inning affair against the Cardinals on April 23, 1992 when a Juan Agosto delivery wound up inside his jersey for a walk-off hit by pitch.
- Paul Gibson, former pitcher and proprietor of Paul Gibson's Baseball Academy in Long Island, is 53. The lefty chucked 70-plus innings in for the Mets between 1992 and '93 to the tune of a 5.22 ERA. Bad as that mark may be, it's still a better performance than the one turned in by his birthday buddy...
- Bart Shirley, 73, who took an oh-fer in twelve April at-bats with the 1967 Mets. The Corpus Christi native will always be a hero in the Lone Star state, however. Playing halfback for the University of Texas, Shirley tossed a game-winning touchdown pass that lead the Longhorns to victory in the 1960 Cotton Bowl.
Omar Minaya bolstered the Mets bullpen on this date in 2006, sending pitchers Tim Hamulack and Jae Seo to the Dodgers for hurlers Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll. The latter flamed out in Triple-A, but Sanchez wound up being a key contributor on the eventual pennant winners. In the early going, anyway. He didn't allow a run until his 16th appearance with his new club, though that flawless ERA jumped to 4.19 over the ensuing 33 games.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Happy birthday to Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, who likely melted the faces of several Brooklyn Cyclones fans when the band played Keyspan Park in July 2009. Also in attendance were noted Mets enthusiasts Yo La Tengo, as they opened for Wilco and later joined them during an encore performance of Spiders (Kidsmoke). An official recording of the whole set was available on Wilco's website for a while. It's worth a listen.