This Date in Mets History: May 12 — Yogi Berra's birthday, Beltran blasts three versus Rockies

Jim McIsaac

It's like deja vu all over again for Yogi Berra, who celebrates his 88th birthday. It was also deja vu all over again for Rockies pitchers when facing Carlos Beltran two years ago today.

Every Met past and present should thank his mother today, but there are seven players who owe their moms an extra debt of gratitude on this date, as they spent prior May 12ths birthing them into this world.

First and foremost among the septet is Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who turns 88 today. The man known as Lawrence Peter on his birth certificate joined the Mets organization in 1965 as a coach, though he did come out of retirement as a player for a brief, four-game cameo that year and went two-for-nine with a pair of singles. Thought to be the heir apparent to Casey Stengel at the time, Berra didn't take over the Mets managerial post until after the death of Gil Hodges in 1972. Like his predecessor, Yogi led the team to an improbable pennant (coining the phrase "it ain't over till it's over" in the process) and the Word Series during his second year on the job, though the Mets fell one win short of bringing another championship trophy back to Flushing.

The rest of Berra's tenure is a mixed bag. The Mets suffered a serious post-playoff run hangover in 1974, slumping to 71-91 due to an weak offense (the team's 81 OPS+ tied for worst in the league) and a shaky bullpen (sound familiar?). The 1975 season brought a rebound of sorts, though Berra wouldn't survive the full 162-game slate. He was let go in August due to mainly to rising clubhouse tensions. All told, Yogi led the Mets to a 292-296 mark in his four-year stint. That's good enough for fifth place on the team's career managerial wins list, placing him right between two other men with ties to both New York teams: Willie Randolph and Joe Torre.

Other Birthdays

  • Outfielder Kevin Bass is 54. In Game Six of the 1986 NLCS, Jesse Orosco, under threat of physical harm from Keith Hernandez, struck out Bass with a 16th inning slider to send the Mets to the World Series. Bass joined the Mets six years later, well after the team's heyday, though he did his best to forestall the slide into mediocrity, posting a 107 OPS+ and slugging a solid .431 in 145 at-bats.
  • Mark Clark turns 45. A perfectly cromulent innings-eater, Clark made 54 starts for the Mets between 1996 and '97, winning 22, losing 18, posting a slightly better than league-average ERA, and accruing exactly two wins above what a replacement would do in the process. His most notable contribution to the team was being part of the trade that brought the rosin bag tossing, tooth necklace wearing Turk Wendell to New York.
  • If you blinked last year, you likely missed Jack Egbert's lone appearance as a Met. The right-handed reliever, 30 today, faced two batters in a post-Acostalypic 8-4 loss to the Phillies on May 28.
  • Righty Kenny Greer's Mets tenure lasted one batter longer than Egbert's. The newly 46-year picked up the victory in his first (and only) Mets appearance, striking out two St. Louis Cardinals in the 17th inning of a 1-0 game Jeff Kent won with a walk-off double in the bottom of the frame.
  • Bob Heise is 66. A September call-up every year from 1967 to '69, the slight infielder slashed .295/.343/.347 in just over 100 plate appearances for New York. Heise played for four pennant-winning teams in his 11-year career, starting with the Miracle Mets, though he failed to make the postseason roster every time.
  • Catcher Joe Nolan tuns 62. He's best known as the man who ousted Reds great Johnny Bench from behind the plate in 1981. Given a shot at supplanting Duffy Dyer from his position as the Mets' primary back up catcher nine years earlier, Nolan failed to impress, going oh-for-ten with a walk in a four-game cup of coffee.

Games of Note
Today's a good day in Mets history if you like dramatic home runs. The team completed the its first-ever doubleheader sweep on this date in 1962. Facing the Milwaukee Braves at the Polo Grounds, New York won both the day and night cap via walk-off homers. Hobie Landrith made a winner of reliever Craig Anderson in the first gameby taking Warren Spahn deep for a two-run blast. Anderson also picked up the W in game two, this time thanks to Gil Hodges, who untied a 7-7 affair with a solo shot into the stands.

Fifty season later, Carlos Beltran outdid both Landrith and Hodges by becoming the seventh Met to hit three home runs in a game. On May 12, 2011, Beltran went deep to all three fields against the Rockies, sending one over Coors Field's center field fence in the first, going long to left in the seventh, and finishing the trifecta with a bomb to upper deck scraping bomb to right in the game's concluding frame. You can watch all three here while marveling at how good Beltran is at baseball.


Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Today is Mother's Day, a date that's been celebrated in its current form ever since Anna Jarvis successfully lobbied Congress to make it an official holiday in 1914. While every Met has had a mother, the team's only had one Jarvis: Sherman Jarvis "Roadblock" Jones. Roadblock didn't do much to impress on the field, going 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA for the 1962 Mets before retiring from baseball. His career path post-athletics, however, likely made his mother proud. In 1989, Jones was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, where he served for three years. Nine years later, he earned a promotion to the state Senate.

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