The Mets began the 2006 season on this date by beating the Washington Nationals and Livan Hernandez 3-2, thereby launching their first successful run to the postseason since 2000. It was a particularly good day for newcomers Paul Lo Duca and Xavier Nady, who each collected a two-out RBI and combined to go five for eight, including three doubles. David Wright drove himself in with a solo homer in the sixth that proved to be the deciding run. In his Mets debut, Billy Wagner saved the game for starter Tom Glavine with a little help from center-fielder Carlos Beltran, who ended the game by throwing out Jose Vidro when the Nats’ second-baseman tried to stretch a single into a double.
Gary Pettis, a Mets coach during the Art Howe era, is celebrating his 55th birthday today. Hey, he was only a coach. Don't blame him.
Happy 67th birthday to light-hitting outfielder Rod Gaspar, who spent his rookie years as a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets. As a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 10th of Game Four of the World Series, he scored the winning run from second base on J.C. Martin’s bunt when the throw by Orioles’ pitcher Pete Richert hit Martin and ricocheted into no man’s land.
Bob "Hawk" Taylor, who died just this past June, would have been 74 today. His best game in four seasons as a Met was on June 20, 1964, when, after replacing starting catcher Chris Cannizzaro in the second inning, he helped power the Amazins to a 7-3 win over the Phillies with a pair of two-run homers.
The late Don Rowe was born on this date 77 years ago. In 1963, his only season in the majors, the lefty pitched in 26 games for the Mets, all but one in relief. He chalked up neither a decision nor a save, but his 4.14 ERA out of the bullpen was second best among Mets relievers that year. On my second and last visit to the Polo Grounds, I saw Rowe take over for Galen Cisco in the first inning and pitch eight innings in relief, yielding only one run through the final seven, in an 8-3 loss to the Houston Colt .45s.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Today marks the 115th anniversary of the birth of publishing mogul Henry R. Luce, who created the magazines Time, Fortune, Life and Sports Illustrated. The latter is known throughout the sports world for "jinxing" those who grace its covers. Various groupings of Mets appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on Sept. 6, 1999; July 17, 2006; and June 18, 2007. In each of those years, the Mets’ last game was a particularly agonizing one for the team and its fans. Indelibly etched in the back of our brains are the images of a wayward ball leaving Kenny Rogers’ hand, a bat never leaving Carlos Beltran’s shoulder, and an un-devastated Tom Glavine leaving in the first inning with his team down 7-0.