This Date in Mets History: April 19 — Mets win at Shea for the first time, Frankie V's birthday

Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Lefty Al Jackson became the first Mets pitcher to win a game at Shea Stadium on the same day that future Mets lefty Frank Viola turned four years old.

The third time proved to be the charm for the '64 Mets when it came to winning a game at their new home. As David mentioned on Wednesday, the Mets christened Shea Stadium on April 17, 1964 with a 4-3 loss to the Pirates. Two days later, the team sent the crowd home happy after a victory for the first time.

Al Jackson got the start on Sunday, April 19 and he was on the mound at the finish, too. The little lefty struck out six in a six-hit shutout that helped New York salvage the final contest of a three-game set with Pittsburgh. The Mets infield was active behind Jackson, turning double plays in the third and the seventh to get him out of jams and also providing the entirety of the offense on the day. Second sacker Ron Hunt knocked in a pair, as did Rod Kanehl from the hot corner, while Dick Smith (1B) and Al Moran (SS) brought home one each. Final score: Mets 6, Pirates 0.

Birthdays

  • Ambiorix Burgos is 29. Acquired from the Kansas City Royals for Brian Bannister, Burgos appeared in just 17 games for the Mets in 2007 before Tommy John surgery and anger management issues ended his major league career. Burgos's rage should come as no surprise given he shares a name with Ambiorix, the Belgic tribesman who led an uprising against Roman troops during Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul.
  • Brent Mayne, another Met by way of the Royals, is 45. Brought to New York via trade in 1996, Mayne played sparingly that year, what with Todd Hundley hitting home runs at a rate previously unmatched by any catcher in MLB history. For the record, Mets backstops hit a league-best 42 home runs in 1996. Hundley connected for 41, while Mayne chipped one: a two-run shot against the Cardinals' Alan Benes on April 25.
  • The sweetest music Frank Viola hears today is likely to be "Happy Birthday to You", as he turns 53. Frankie V has been a relatively popular subject on Amazin' Avenue as of late, what with Steve Sypa comparing him to another lefty and with ties to the Twins and Jeff Paternostro profiling him for the ongoing Top 50 Mets of All Time series.

Transactions
The Mets and Pirates swapped shortstops on this date in 1979, as Tim Foli headed west on the Penn Turnpike to Pittsburgh and Frank Tavares came eastbound in the opposite lane. Neither infielder did much for his new team, though Tavares had ample opportunity to do so. He didn't miss a single tilt after joining the Mets. Or, for that matter, before. As result, Tavares wound up playing a league-leading 164 games in 1979.

Game of Note
While the Mets front office worked to finalize the Foli-Taveras trade on April 19, 1979, the players ventured up the Hudson River on their off-day to play an exhibition match against Army at West Point. The cadets would have been wise to surrender in the face of superior force. Lee Mazzilli, Kelvin Chapman, and John Stearns each homered in an 11-run second, while Tidewater farmhand Greg Field and Ed Kranepool (!) combined to pitch a one-hit shutout. Steady Eddie closed this one out and would have picked up a three-inning save had he pitched one more frame, but with the Mets leading 19-0 after seven, the umps wisely invoked the mercy rule.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
A whole lotta crazy has happened on this date in U.S. history, so let's keep it light with the Tenuous Connection and focus on one of the country's minor sociopaths: Suge Knight. Before founding Death Row records, Knight was an aspiring athlete who, from 1983 to '85, attended California's El Camino College on a football scholarship. Coincidentally, at the same time Suge was matriculating on the West Coast, El Camino alum George Foster was patrolling the outfield for the Mets back east.

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