Darryl Strawberry, currently the Mets' reigning all-time home run king, hit the first round-tripper of his career in an 11-4 rout of the Pirates in Pittsburgh on this date in 1983. The struggling rookie right-fielder entered this game with only two singles, a double and three walks in 27 plate appearances. He had also struck out 11 times. That he made contact in all five at-bats was perhaps more encouraging than the home run, a two-run blast that came with the Mets already leading 5-1 in the fifth inning. The true hitting stars of the game were Hubie Brooks and Jose Oquendo, who each collected three RBIs, Brooks with a double and triple and Oquendo with a pair of singles.
Mets fans apparently weren't convinced that Straw was the real deal, as only 7,550 came out to Shea Stadium the following night. The faithful few were rewarded with a three-run bomb that proved to be the difference maker in the 6-4 win over the Padres.
Jerrrod Riggan, turning 39 today, spent the first half of the 2001 season mopping up to the tune of a 4.30 ERA. After Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook were traded away, he turned it up[ a notch. Immediately tagged with a blown save and two 10th inning losses, he quickly settled in as a seventh-inning specialist. Over his last 19 games he posted a 2.08 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. Over the winter he was sent to Cleveland in and eight-player swap that brought Robbie Almar to Shea.
Happy 46th birthday to right-hander Frank Seminara When the Mets picked up the Brooklyn native for the 1994 season they were hoping he might recapture some of the spark that produced a solid rookie showing two years earlier. It didn't happen. Scored on in seven of 10 appearances, Seminara's last pitch as a Met, and as a major leaguer, resulted in a three-run, walk-off home run by the Reds' Jerome Walton.
Rube Walker would have been 87 today. When Gil Hodges left the Senators to manage the Mets in 1968, he brought Walker along as his pitching coach. He served in that capacity with the Amazins for 14 years under five managers. A former catcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Walker is generally credited with popularizing eh five-man rotation as well as a pitch counts, thought not the strict 100-120 used today. Tom Seaver, for example,says his limit was usually around 135, give or take.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1981, boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini defeated Jorges Morales to wit the North American Boxing Federation lightweight championship. Meanwhile, Mancini's fellow Youngstown, Ohio native Gary Rajsich, acquired by the Mets six weeks earlier, was doing some boom-booming of his own with the Tidewater Tides. The 26-year-old lefty-swinging slugger had AAA pitchers on the ropes in 1981, compiling an OPS of .965 and on a pace to set a new International League home run mark before a wrist injury cut his season short. Rajsich had a decent year with the Mets in 1982, but the boom had left his bat and he was KO'd in 1983 by the arrival of Danny Heep.