This Date In Mets History: March 7 — Jeff Kent comes Into The World With A Scowl

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

We won’t say “happy birthday” because, as he likes to say, “Winning is the only thing that makes me happy.”

Jeff Kent is 45 today. To borrow part of a line from Winston Churchill, Jeff Kent, as a Met, was a riddle wrapped in a mystery — perhaps too tightly wrapped. Was he simply “not a New York player,” who would flourish in the more laid-back, less media-intensive west coast environment? Could it have something to do with Dallas Green or the toxic environment in which Kent played early on for the Mets? Did he deserve to be tarred with the epithet “Jeff Can't?”

On the one hand you could argue that the Mets gave up on him too soon; on the other hand, he might never have developed into a future Hall of Famer had he stayed.

The only facts in the case are that he always could hit and hit with power, and in the field he made up, or tried to make up, for what he lacked in natural ability with hard-nosed play. But by most accounts his personality left something to be desired and his surly disposition didn’t improve with his offensive output.

For the record, here are his numbers with the Mets and Giants:

OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Mets .327 .453 .780 107
Giants .368 .535 .903 136

His stats slipped a bit in his later years with the Astros and Dodgers, but they still leave his Mets numbers in the dust. The Mets and Jeff Kent each made it into one World Series without the other.

Birthdays
Mauro Gozzo, who turns 47 today, was part of a trade chain that lasted 19 years. He was involved in the 1987 deal for David Cone, who would net the Mets Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson in 1992. The latter was traded for Mark Clark, who begat, among others, Turk Wendell, who would later be part of the deal for Bruce Chen, who in turn was a pawn in the transaction that brought to Shea both Scott Strickland and Matt Watson — two weak links the finally broke the chain. The Mets reacquired Gozzo as a free agent and he pitched without distinction for them in 1993 and 1994.

Happy 77th birthday to Galen Cisco, who was one of the better pitchers for the Mets during their first four seasons. The right-hander’s Mets career ERA of 4.04 is the best among Mets pitchers in the pre-Seaver era and his 3.62 mark in 1964 was the third best single-season mark in those dark days. The Mets scored two or fewer runs for him in 14 of his 25 starts to account in large measure for his 6-19 record that year. Although he threw two shutouts in ’64, his most memorable performance was in a losing effort, pitching the last nine innings in relief in the 23-inning nightcap of a doubleheader at Shea against the Giants on May 31, 1964.

Today would have been Original Met Ed Bouchee’s 80h birthday; he passed away just six weeks ago. He was the team's first pinch-hitter ever, batting for Roger Craig in the fourth inning of their inaugural game in 1962 and drawing a walk. Five games later he hit a pinch three-run home run and started the next day at first base, slugging a two-run homer and a double. After that he went 8-for-78 and by the end of July his big league career was over.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. Without his great invention, Joe from Queens wouldn’t be able to call WFAN to propose trading Elvin Ramirez straight up for Mike Trout, and we wouldn’t be able to watch Dan Warthen reach for the receiver with a slightly dazed look on his face in hopes that Ricky Bones will tell him, “Yes, Rodney and Kimbrel are both ready.” We would also be deprived of an exciting anecdote from Mike Piazza’s new book, Long Shot, in which he says that Roger Clemens, after skulling the Mets catcher with a 98 MPH fastball, called to apologize, prompting Piazza to throw the phone down and suggest that Clemens perform an impossible act upon himself.

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