Endy Chavez turns 35 today as he prepares to head for Arizona to begin spring training with the Kansas City Royals. The image of his leaping grab to rob the Cardinals’ Scott Rolen of a two-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS is indelibly etched into the minds of Mets fans. (In case yours is a little fuzzy, a photo has been provided above.)
After that miraculous catch, he gunned the ball to Jose Valentin who whipped to Carlos Delgado to double up Jim Edmonds and end the inning. He had the chance to be the offensive hero in the bottom half of that inning, batting with the bases loaded and two out but flied out to Edmonds in center. He did get a hit in the bottom of the ninth, representing the tying run with nobody out, but…well, we all know how that scenario unfolded.
Endy routinely made great defensive plays for the Mets, but used his bat to create his second most memorable Mets moment. That one took place on April 24, 2007, at Shea Stadium. With two outs in the bottom of the 12th, Shawn Green on third and Jose Reyes on second, he shocked the Rockies by bunting an 0–1 pitch into no-man’s land and beating it out for an unorthodox walk-off single.
Endy Chavez is not the kind of player who can be judged by his admittedly unimpressive slash line. He has forged an 11-year career with his glove, legs, and uncanny baseball instincts. Given the uncertain state of the 2013 Mets outfield, he would have been a handy man to have around. On paper, Endy may not be a “Moneyball” player, but in the outfield he is money in the bank.
Happy 58th birthday to Charlie Puleo, a .500 pitcher for a .400 Mets ball club in 1982. His 9–9, 4,47 ERA looked a lot better to the Reds than the 5–13, 5.50 ERA posted by 37-year-old Tom Seaver, so the two teams swapped righties that December and thus The Franchise was returned to the fold.
Benny Ayala turns 62 today. On August 27, 1974, he became the first Met to homer in his inaugural major league at-bat. It was all downhill from there, as far his Mets career was concerned, but he resurfaced with the Orioles in 1979 as a part-time outfielder and designated hitter. He played in the World Series that year and won a championship ring in 1983. For the record, the three other Mets to park one the first time they stepped up to the plate were Mike Fitzgerald, Kaz Matsui, and Mike Jacobs.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Charles Dickens was born on this date in 1812. In a series of novels, the prescient Victorian author famously chronicled the last seven Mets seasons, weaving a tale of Great Expectations that turned into Hard Times and threatened to transform
Copper Citi Field into a Bleak House or, at best, an Old Curiosity Shop. And who can forget his stirring epitaph to 2012:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”