This Date in Mets History: April 29 — Franco records career saves number 1 and 300

Aubrey Washington / Getty Images

The Brooklyn-born reliever reached a milestone with his hometown team on this date in 1996.

Today's a big day in John Franco's personal history. On April 29, 1984, the lefty picked up his first big league save by chucking the last two frames of an 8-1 victory by the Reds over the San Francisco Giants. Exactly twelve years later, he became the first southpaw to reach 300 career saves by closing out a 3-2 Mets win against the Montreal Expos. In typical Franco fashion, John and his teammates made it a bit more interesting than it needed to be. With one out, he yielded an infield hit F.P. Santangelo, who advanced to second on Jeff Kent's throwing error. Franco rallied to strike out the next batter, but he needed just about every inch of Shea's outfield expanse to record out number three, as pinch hitter Sherman Obando sent a long, but not quite long enough fly to center.

Asked by reporters after the game to extrapolate some meaning from reaching a round number of saves, Franco said, "It means I've had a pretty good career so far." The Mets closer would run that career total to 424 saves before calling it a pretty good career after the 2005 season.

Birthdays

  • Tony Armas, one of the prospects Boston sent to the Montreal Expos to acquire Pedro Martinez, is 35. Ten years after the swap, both hurlers wound up teammates on the 2008 Mets.
  • Happy 80th birthday to Ed "the Glider" Charles. The elder statesman on the '69 Mets, Charles was three years older than Donn Clendenon, the teammate closest to him in age. Released after the World Series, Ed chose to retire and got a job in the promotions department of Buddah Records, a label that specialized in bubblegum pop and novelties like this one.
  • Gary Cohen hits 55 years of age today. Gary's been a fixture in the Mets broadcast booth since 1989, meaning he's been fans pleasant good afternoon or evening for the better part of his adult life now. For more about the man behind the mic, Greg Hanlon of Capital New York wrote a fine profile of Cohen this past winter.
  • Wes Gardner turns 52. An arm in the back end of the Mets bullpen during the '84 and '85 seasons, Gardner appeared in 30 games before shipping up to Boston in the Bob Ojeda trade. He'd find more success in Beantown than New York, saving a team-high 10 games in 1987.
  • Bob McClure is 61. McClure joined the Mets as a free agent in July 1988, perhaps lured to New York by the allure of being on a pennant-winning team and the chance to play with his old college teammate Keith Hernandez. The two donned Bulldog blue for the College of San Mateo in the early '70s. Other notable San Mateo alums include Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac and actor Kurtwood Smith (who can be seen here delivering on of the great lines in cinema history).
  • Omir Santos celebrates birthday number 32 today. The Lightning God has accumulated just 249 MLB at-bats since felling Jonathan Papelbon with one mighty swing of his thunder stick and a mere 30 since the end of the 2009 season. He did get one plate appearance earlier this year for the Indians. It ended with a foul pop out to first after two pitches.
  • Finally, Kelly Shoppach is exactly 365 days older than the man listed above him. Shoppach signed with Seattle in the offseason and is presently sandwiched between Jesus Montero, the Mariners' catcher of the present and Mike Zunino, the team's backstop of the future.

Game of Note
The first winning streak in Mets history started and ended on this date in 1962. One day after thumping five home runs against the Phillies to improve their record to 2-12, the New Breed played two against Philadelphia at the Polo Grounds. Little lefty Al Jackson was the star of game one, scattering eight hits over nine scoreless innings to author the first-ever shutout by a Mets pitcher. Jackson received all the support he'd need in a seven-run the bottom of the fourth that saw the team send a dozen men to the plate and Frank Thomas become the second major leaguer to get plunked by pitches twice in the same inning.

Having won back-to-back games for the first time, the Amazins tried to stretch the streak to three in the nightcap. They failed. The dormant Phillies offense erupted for ten runs while Mets batters, so potent in game one, produced just two tallies. Casey Stengel's crew wouldn't wind up winning three contests in a row until late May and, once they did, they started 17-game losing streak the very next day.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The last Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line on this date in 2004, ending 107 years of nearly continuous production. In 1989, the Good Olds Guys, a group of Oldsmobile, dealers sued Mets great turned Yankees broadcaster Tom Seaver for breach of contract after he accidentally said that the game he was calling at the time was "brought to you by your local Mazda dealer." The case wended a four-year path through New York's legal system, eventually reaching the State Supreme Court in 1993. Ultimately, arguments by the Good Olds Guys carried the day. That's what the Yankees get for relying on a classless Met.

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