The Mets played their first official National League game on April 11, 1962. The sloppy 11–4 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis set the tone for a historically bad inaugural season.
Mets “firsts” include: Batter, Richie Ashburn. Hit, Gus Bell. RBI, Charlie Neal. Run, Ashburn. Home Run, Gil Hodges. Error, Neal. Loss, Roger Craig. Craig also committed the first balk, although it did not, as legend has it, lead to the first run surrendered; that was driven home with a clean single by future Hall-of-Famer Stan Musial.
Unbeknownst to them, the Mets also encountered their first bona fide nemesis that day in the Cards’ starting and winning pitcher Larry Jackson. Through seven seasons, the right-hander compiled a 21–2 record and a stingy 2.24 ERA vs. the Amazins.
Outfielder Trot Nixon celebrates his 39th birthday today. The former Red Sox slugger had nothing in the tank when he closed out his big league career with an 11-game stint as a Met in June 2008. His only contribution was a home run that helped the Mets to a 7–2 win over the Rockies.
Unlike his right-handed Mets namesake, lefty Bobby Jones, turning 41 today, simply was not a very good major league hurler. He did the best pitching of his career in 10 relief outings with the 2000 Mets, posting a 2.04 ERA, although most of those games were pretty much lost or won before he entered.
Happy 49th birthday to Bret Saberhagen. When he wasn’t spraying reporters with bleach or cooling his heels on the disabled list, Sabes pitched for the Mets like the two-time Cy Young Award winner that he was. His best year as a Met was 1994, when an incredible 11-to–1 strikeout-to-walk ratio helped him compile a 2.74 ERA and a 14–4 record for an otherwise .430 Mets club. He would probably have won 20 had the players’ strike not halted the season at 113 games.
Wally Whitehurst, right-handed pitcher and human pinball bumper, is also 49 today. He was much better coming out of the bullpen than starting. Used exclusively in relief in 1990, he pitched 66 innings and posted a WHIP of 1.1 and a 5/1 K/BB ratio. He split his time between starting and relieving the next two seasons and his poor record in the former role was a combination of inconsistency, spotty run support, and hard luck.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Not to make light of a tragedy, but it’s worth noting that on the afternoon of April 11, 1912—50 years to the day before the New York Mets made their ill-fated debut—the RMS Titanic left Queenstown, Ireland, for New York City on its maiden voyage.