Way back in 1995, the Mets drafted the Brooklyn-born Nelson Figueroa just two weeks after his 21st birthday. Eighteen years, eleven organizations, and several trips around the baseball-playing world later, the well-traveled right-hander is still plugging away on this the occasion of his 39th birthday.
Despite being inducted into the ranks of professional baseball by his hometown team, Figueroa didn't wind up pitching for the Mets until 2008. Ten years earlier, GM Steve Phillips set the hurler, then at Double-A Binghamton, on a peripatetic career path by sending him to Arizona in the Bernard Gilkey-Willie Blair trade. Two seasons after that deal, the Diamondbacks shipped him back east, albeit 110 miles shy of the five boroughs, as part of the haul offered to the Phillies for Curt Schilling. Given the chance to crack Philadelphia's rotation, Figueroa was a smidgeon better than replacement level and the two sides parted ways after 13 starts.
The next six years saw Figueroa take the mound for the home team in the following cities: Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Islip, Chihuahua, Tainan City (where he anchored the staff of the Uni-President Lions, champions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League), Ciudad de Hermosillo, and finally, Santiago de los Caballeros, which any geography buff can tell you is the second-largest municipality in the Dominican Republic. A strong showing during the 2008 Caribbean Series caught the attention of Mets scouts, who offered Figueroa a chance to return to the states and the franchise that drafted him.
Within two months time, he added Flushing to the ever-expanding list of cities by pitching New York to a 4-2 victory over the Nationals on April 11. Figueroa went on to make 15 more starts as a Met, saving the best for last. On the final day of the 2009 season, he tossed the first shutout by a Mets pitcher at Citi Field, blanking the Astros by an 8-0 score. Not a bad for a literal journeyman pitcher.
Game of Note
According to Baseball Reference, the 1980 Mets converted just 69.2 percent of batted balls into outs, making them the second-worst fielding team in the National League by defensive efficiency. On May 18, though, the team took advantage of two errors by the normally sure-handed second baseman Jerry Royster to turn a 1-0 ninth inning deficit versus the Braves into a 2-1 victory. Royster misplayed a pair of grounders, each of which allowed a runner from second to scamper home with a run of the unearned variety. Mets reliever Neil Allen pitched a clean bottom of the ninth and the visiting New Yorkers escaped Atlanta with a doubleheader split.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The United Nations moved from is temporary residence in Lake Success, New York to its landmarked Le Corbusier/Oscar Neimeyer-designed Manhattan complex on this date in 1951. Before decamping to Lake Success, the UN called Flushing Meadows Park home. Robert Moses, New York's powerful urban planner, was instrumental in convincing the organization to headquarter in the five boroughs rather than Philadelphia, but was less persuasive when it came to keeping it based in his signature park. The UN's loss was Mets' gain a decade later, though, as it freed up real estate for the fledgling franchise's first permanent home field.