A few years back, with little fanfare, the torch was passed from Crash Davis to Mike Hessman, who turns 35 today. Hessman eclipsed the fictitious “Bull Durham” catcher’s “record” of 247 minor league home runs late in the 2008 season en route to his present total of 370. In the majors he hit 14 bombs in 223 at-bats, an impressive average of one every 16 ABs, but a career on-base percentage of .272 dragged his OPS+ down to 72.
He hit his last big league home run as a Met in 2010—a three-run pinch homer off the Phillies’ J.C. Romero. But he did little else of note, and Mets management was not impressed. Nor, we assume, was Susan Sarandon. (For the record, the all-time minor league home run king, with 484, is the late Hector Espino, who played most of his career in the Mexican League and reportedly once turned down a contract offer from the Mets.)
Right-hander Kevin Brown won 211 games in his major league career, but it’s lefty Kevin Brown, alas, who pitched for the Mets (2 IP, 0 ER in 1990) and who is celebrating his 47th birthday today. Brown is a classic case of right name, wrong player, with the Mets at one time or another having also given playing time to the “wrong” Chris Carter, Bob Gibson, Brian Giles, Dave Roberts, and, arguably, Chris Young. They even signed the wrong Pedro Martinez before getting the right one (although not as right as he should’ve been), and, even though they already had the right Bobby Jones, they picked up a spare one just in case. Original Met Frank Thomas was a bona fide folk hero, so any comparison with his heavy-slugging White Sox namesake is moot.
Would-be phenom Les Rohr, 67 today, pitched only 24 innings over three seasons with the Amazins (1967-1969). His three claims to fame are that he a.) is the only Met born in England; b.) was the Mets' first pick (number two overall) in the first MLB June amateur draft in 1965; and c.) was the losing pitcher in the Mets’ 24-inning, 1-0 loss at the Astrodome on April 15, 1968. At the time it was the longest major league game ever played to a decision and still stands as the longest shutout in MLB history.
Happy 75th birthday to lefty-swinging outfielder Larry Elliot. In July of 1964 Elliot became the first Met to homer in four consecutive games, a record unbroken until Richard Hidalgo clubbed five in five contests 40 summers later. Elliot had raw power and a pretty good arm — 10 assists in 54 games in 1966 — but his greatest asset proved to be as trade bait when the Mets shipped him off to the Kansas City A’s for Ed Charles.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1836, Samuel Colt manufactured the first revolver, a .34 caliber pistol he called the “Texas” model. It was the Colt .45, however, for which he became most famous and which was adopted as the team name for the Mets’ expansion cousins in Texas. During their first two seasons, the Houston Colt .45s shot the Mets down 26 times out of 34 games (there was one tie and one rainout). The Amazins appeared to get the drop on their nemesis in 1964 and held a 9–6 edge–until the last three-game showdown in Houston. Then the home team swept our heroes 3–2, 2–1, and 1–0, and so, in their last season as the Colt .45s, Houston played New York to a “draw.”