This Date in Mets History: May 20 — Robin rocks Brewers for a pair of slams

M. David Leeds / Getty Images

Robin Ventura's first season with the Mets continued to unfold in grand fashion on this date in 1999.

Nothing fosters a connection between a new acquisition and a new fan base quite like coming through in the clutch. Which is to say Robin Ventura and the Flushing faithful did quite a bit of bonding on this date in 1999. Ventura came to New York with a reputation for going into beast mode with the bases loaded (evidenced by his career 1.045 OPS with the bags juiced) and that's just what he did when the hapless Milwaukee Brewers, in town for a day-night twin bill, provided him the opportunity. With three ducks on the pond in the first inning of game one, Ventura pulled a fat 3-2 offering from Jim Abbott down the right field line for a grand slam. He victimized reliever Horacio Estrada in the exact same manner during game two, becoming the first MLB player to hit grand slams in both ends of a doubleheader. The historic (and foreshadowing?) power display, which elicited a "Robin's Quite the Bat Man" headline from the Daily News, helped the Mets take both ends of the double dip by scores of 11-10 and 10-1.

Birthdays

  • Third baseman Ken Boyer would have been 82 today. The Robin Ventura of his era, Boyer possessed good power, a keen eye, and an exceptional glove which he used to rack up seven consecutive seasons worth five-plus bWAR between 1958 and 1964. Unfortunately, the Mets acquired him in 1966. Though Boyer wasn't the perennial All-Star he was prior to joining the club, he still played the best third base the young franchise had seen so far, racking up 3.5 wins above replacement in a year and half.
  • Wayne Housie is 48. A forgettable outfielder for the forgettable 1993 team, Housie appeared in 18 games, mainly as a pinch hitter. It was in that capacity that he recorded his only Mets RBI, knocking home Todd Hundley with a ground ball single in a 8-7 loss to the Expos.
  • Wilson Valdez turns 35. As a member of the Phillies in 2011, Valdez became the first position player to earn a victory since 2000. In doing so, he ousted catcher Brent Mayne, another former Met, from the record books.

Game of Note
The '62 Mets also swept a doubleheader versus a Milwaukee team on this date, as Casey Stengel's crew took two from the Braves for the second time in eight days. Frank Thomas had the key hit in the day half, stroking a two-out, two-run single in the ninth to bring the Mets all the way back from a 5-1 deficit. Two batters later, Braves shortstop Roy McMillan, a three-time Gold Glover, gifted the visitors a pair of insurance runs by booting a grounder. Those would come in handy, since Milwaukee would make it a 7-6 affair before all was said and done.

As for the nightcap, the Mets again fell behind early, but came back in the game's latter frames. Charlie Neal, Felix Mantilla, and Frank Thomas each clubbed a seventh-inning homer to bust open a 3-3 tie and push the Amazins toward a 9-6 victory. The two sweeps would prove to be the high point of New York's inaugural season. They'd lose their next 17 games in a row and just 18 more total before year's end.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The great Sadaharu Oh celebrates his 73rd birthday today. One person who likely won't be sending him well wishes is former Mets manager Davey Johnson. A teammate of Sadaharu's from 1975 to '76, Johnson was the first foreign-born player (or gaijin) to suit up for the Yomiuri Giants. He did not enjoy the experience. Davey suffered through two injury-riddled campaigns and declined to re-up for a third (at a 20% pay cut, no less), which prompted Oh to criticize the gaijin. Johnson, to his credit, remained complimentary of Oh's talent, telling Sports Illustrated, "He would be a good hitter anywhere in the world. Quality is still quality."

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