This Date in Mets History: May 17 — Steve Trachsel and Mike Pelfrey are extra Traschel-like and Pelfrey-esque

Doug Pensinger

Two pitchers Mets fans loved to hate did things on this date that left even their biggest boosters shaking their fists in frustration.

In the 25-some odd years your humble history recounter has spent going to Mets game, there have only been two times that free tickets couldn't lure him into making the trek to Flushing. In both cases, the day's scheduled starting pitcher, Steve Trachsel in the first instance and Mike Pelfrey in the second, dissuaded him. On two May 17ths past, the infuriating foibles that made those two hurlers utterly unwatchable at times were on display.

Back in 2001, the newly-signed Steve Trachsel set a team record in just his eighth start with the club. Unfortunately, the record was most homers allowed in an inning. Trachsel started the top of the third on May 17 by getting a called strike on San Diego Padres' number eight hitter Alex Arias. The light-hitting infielder then fouled off three consecutive pitches before depositing an 0-2 pitch over the wall. Opposing pitcher Woody Williams worked Trachsel for six offerings before he singled to bring up Rickey Henderson. The Hall of Famer, cut by the Mets one year prior due to general ineffectiveness, jumped on the first pitch he saw and drove it out of the park. Trachsel pulled himself together enough to strikeout Mark Kotsay, but the next four batters faced did the following: home run (Ryan Klesko), double, intentional walk, homer (Bubba Trammell). Mercifully, pitching coach Charlie Hough came out to give the slow-working pitcher a not-quite quick enough hook before Trammell even had time to finish rounding the bases.

Exactly eight seasons later, the similarly glacially-paced Mike Pelfrey became the first major leaguer in 15 years to balk three times in a game. No other National League pitcher in 2009 would commit more than three all season long. You can watch a super-cut of Peflrey's trio of false starts here. None of them have the comedic value of this one from a few years later, though. Even less funny is that runners advanced by the first two balks would come around to score the only tallies in a 2-0 loss.

Birthdays
Dick Smith, an outfielder and occasional first basemen for the Mets from 1963 to '64, turns 74. Smith hails from Lebanon, Oregon, home of the World's Largest Strawberry Shortcake. The 15,000-serving dessert is the main attraction of the town's annual Strawberry Festival, which takes place during the first weekend of June. Assuming your interest has been piqued enough to attend this year's fruit-fest, better book your tickets ASAP.

Game of Note
The 1977 season was a dismal one for Jerry Koosman, as he became the team's first 20 loser in a decade the year after he won 20 for the first time. Kooz's performance on May 17, however, provided a brief respite from the parade of defeats. The lefty went the distance against the Giants, giving up just four hits and one run while striking out seven. Koosman also single-handedly matched San Fran's offensive output when he took opposing starter John Montefusco deep for a solo shot, his first home run since 1968. Final score: Mets 8, Giants 1.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The Continental Congress banned trade between the American colonies and Quebec on this date in 1775, a move designed to further sever ties between the independence-seeking patriots and the British crown. The Mets seem to have implemented an unofficial embargo on Quebecois imports, too, since they haven't employed a player from the province since the Montreal-born Ray Daviault cost the '62 team -1.1 bWAR in 81 innings of relief work.

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