Jeremy Hefner, Dock Ellis, and the '62 Mets all celebrate important milestones on March 11.
One day after playing their first-ever spring training game, the brand-new Mets picked up their first win of amy kind on this date in 1962. Held scoreless through seven innings by the Cardinals, the same team that shut them out 24 hours earlier, catcher Choo Choo Coleman finally got New York on the board with a pinch hit, two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Three consecutive singles by Elio Chacon, Rod Kanehl, and Gus Bell plated the game's tying run, then Chacon sent the fans home happy one frame later with a two-out, walk-off RBI single. The rib-eye made a winner out of pitcher Bob "Butterball" Botz, though don't bother looking for his (rather awesome) name anywhere else in the Mets record books. One week before the end of spring training, the fledgling franchise shipped him off to the Milwaukee Braves.
- The late, great Dock Ellis would have been 68 today. Best known for being the only pitcher (presumably) to throw a no-hitter while under the influence of hallucinogens, Ellis is likely also the only former MLB player who's memoir was co-written with a United States Poet Laureate. Ellis donned orange and blue during the last season of his 12-year career, posting a sky-high 6.04 ERA in 14 starts for the '79 Mets.
- Steve Reed, the reliever GM Steve Phillips acquired at the trade deadline in 2002, is 48. Reed pitched well for the Mets, but the team already had a rather solid bullpen that season, so another late-inning arm probably wasn't going help them climb to the top of the standings. Thankfully, Phillips didn't give up too much in the deal: just the left-handed Bobby Jones, a minor league pitcher named Josh Reynolds, and some Double-A outfielder.
- Jeremy Hefner turns 27. Combine Hefner's bat with Rob Johnson's arm and you've got a nice two-way player.
Game of Note
Henry Blanco almost single-handedly knocked Team USA out of the World Baseball Classic on this date in 2009. The catcher, who'd join the Mets one year later, singled, doubled, and homered to lead Venezuela to a 5-3 win over the Americans. He also threw out Derek
Jeter Eater trying to steal in the ninth when the shortstop unwisely attempted to satisfy his appetite for stolen bases.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Today is Johnny Appleseed Day, a loosely celebrated holiday dedicated to the apple-planting pioneer. Appleseed passed away in 1845, the same year that the Knickerbocker Rules, the document that formalized the rules of baseball was published, so it seems unlikely that he had much exposure to the game as its currently played. Still, were Appleseed, for whatever reason, forced to pick a favorite team today, chances are he'd go with the one that keeps a giant Red Delicious behind the centerfield fence.