This Date in Mets History: March 4 - Several Birthdays, Darren Oliver Beats Jordan One-on-One

Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Six Mets were born on March 4, but the only notable on-field action to occur on this date involved Darren Oliver getting His Airness to pound one into the ground.

The inexorable march of time claims six former Mets as its victims today. Which is to say, half a dozen members emeritus of the organization call March 4 their birthday. Let's start with the most prominent of the bunch, pitcher Jack Fisher, who turns 74. Fisher checked in at 6' 2" and 215 pounds during his playing days, earning him the nickname "Fat Jack". At present, the average Mets hurler is 6' 1" and 207 pounds, so the moniker is technically still accurate even if Fisher would look slender as a reed standing next to, say, Frank Francisco.

Then again, it wasn't just Fisher's body type that was flabby. Fat Jack served up meatballs on the regular. On September 28, 1960, he grooved one to Ted Williams. The Splendid Splinter turned on it and sent it arcing into the right field bullpen for the 521st and final home run of his career. Facing the Yankees 363 days later, Fisher tried to sneak a pitch past Roger Maris. This was the end result.

Jack joined the Mets in 1964 and made team history with his first start. Squaring off against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the afternoon of April 17, he delivered the first-ever pitch at Shea Stadium: a called strike against shortstop Dick Schofield. Facing Willie Stargell to lead off the second, Fisher made another of his trademark fat offerings. Pops pulverized it to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead and tag Fat Jack with the dubious honor of being the first pitcher to allow a long ball in the Mets' new home.

Other Birthdays

  • Danny Frisella would have turned 67 today. The forkballer spent six seasons of his decade-long career with New York, posting a 113 ERA+ over 158 appearances. His best year came in 1971 when he teamed with Tug McGraw to give the Mets a nasty lefty/righty late-inning platoon. Frisella saved a dozen games with a sub 2.00 ERA while striking out 93 in 90 frames.
  • Outfielder Tom Grieve is 65. Acquired from the Rangers in December 1977 as part of a complicated four-team trade, Grieve hit just .208/.273/.297 during his lone season as a Met. He played nine games with the Cardinals the following year before retiring and returning to Texas as a color commentator. In 1984, he took over as the Rangers' GM. Oddly, one of his first moves was initiating a complicated four-team trade that included the Mets.
  • Happy 69th birthday to pitcher Bob Johnson. A throw-in the Amos Otis-for-Joe Foy trade, one of the more lopsided (in a bad way) deals the Mets have ever consummated. Johnson struck out 206 batters in 26 starts for the Kansas City Royals in 1970, just one year after being emancipated from Flushing. Again, Johnson wasn't the centerpiece of the trade. That should give you a good idea of just how lopsided (in a bad way) the 1969 swap really was.
  • Finally, a pair of former coaches share a March 4 birthday. Clyde McCullough, who would have been 96 today, joined Casey Stengel's staff in 1963. He later managed in the Mets system and helped prospects like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Tug McGraw, and Nolan Ryan graduate to the big league team. Sam Perlozzo, 62, took the opposite approach. He was handed the reins of the the Little Falls Mets in 1982, then worked his way up the ladder one rung at a time. In 1987, he made it to the majors and served as Davey Johnson's third base coach for two seasons.

Game of Note
Michael Jordan made his first appearance in a Chicago White Sox uniform 19 years ago today. His Airness suited up for a spring training game against the Texas Rangers and faced future Met Darren Oliver in his only at-bat. The lefty, then a well-regarded prospect for the Texas Rangers, retired MJ on a weak tapper to the mound.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
It was on March 4, 1933 that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in for the first of his record four presidential terms. Prior to becoming America's chief exec, FDR was probably best known outside the New York political scene for being the nephew-in-law of former prez Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy is the namesake of Roosevelt Avenue, the Queens thoroughfare from which Citi Field gets its official mailing address (123-01 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, NY 11368 if you want to add it to your Rolodex).

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