This Date in Mets History: May 3 — David takes Atlanta to the Cone Zone

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

David Cone tossed the first of his 22 career shutouts against the hapless Braves on this date 25 years ago.

David Cone opened the 1988 season as the sixth starting pitcher on manager Davey Johnson's pitching staff. Relegated to bullpen duty for the first month of the season, Coney averaged about two appearances a week in April and showed enough promise (fanning 17 batters in 17 innings, for instance) that when fifth starter Rick Aguilera went down with a sore elbow, Johnson decided to give the lean right-hander a shot.

On May 3, 1988, Cone made his manager, no immodest man he, look like even more of a genius than he'd be willing to openly admit. Facing the Braves in his first start of the year, David went the distance for his first career shutout. The game's opening frame proved the only real struggle for the laredo-slinger, as he gave up a pair of singles, but a timely ground ball double play helped Cone escape the jam. He'd permit a mere six singles from the second on while striking out five and walking just one. Mets batters, meanwhile, banged out nine hits against Atlanta pitching, the big blast being a three-run shot from Darryl Strawberry, the 155th round tripper of his career. That pushed Straw past Dave Kingman for first place on the Mets' career home run leader board, a position he still holds today. Final score: Mets 8, Braves 0.

Birthdays

  • Chris Cannizzaro is 75. Canzaroni, as Casey Stengel called him, caught 249 games for New York between 1962 and '65, amassed 3.5 bWAR (almost entirely with his glove), then slipped down into the minor league ranks for a few seasons. He resurfaced four years later as the starting backstop for the expansion Padres and became the Friars' first All-Star representative.
  • Jack DiLauro, a self-described "victim of the Mets' outstanding pitching staff" in 1969, turns 70. The right-hander made his MLB debut with the Miracle Mets and posted a solid 2.40 ERA in 23 appearances, but switched his allegiances to the Astros after the World Series as New York used his roster spot to protect Jon Matlack from the Rule 5 draft.
  • Hall of Fame hurler Red Ruffing would have been 113 years young today. A standout for the Red Sox and Yankees from start of the live-ball era until the end of World War II. In 1962, the Mets lured Ruffing away from an exec position in the Cleveland Indians front office to serve as the team's first pitching coach. After one year working with the likes of Vinegar Bend Mizell and Sherman "Roadblock" Jones, he retired from the big leagues for good.

Game of Note
Juan Marichal of the Giants chucked nine shutout innings against the Mets on this date in 1967, running his career record versus the Amazins to 18-0 in 21 career starts. The Dominican Dandy allowed just five base runners to reach, four courtesy of one-base knocks and another via free pass. Mets starter Bill Denehy did his best to keep things close, limiting San Fran to two runs, but relievers Chuck Estrada and Jerry Koosman gave up bags-clearing hits to Jim Ray Hart and Willie Mays respectively to put the home team on the wrong side of an 8-0 laugher. New York would suffer another blowout loss to Marichal a month later, but the team finally marred his perfect record by scoring eight runs on 14 hits versus the Hall of Famer on July 4, 1967.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
It was exactly ten years ago that the Old Man of the Mountain, as seen on the back of New Hampshire state quarters, crumbled to earth. Only one Granite Stater has ever suited up for the Mets and that's left-hander Don Florence, who won three games without a loss for New York in 1995. Several members of the Florence family have left comments on the Memories of Don Florence page at the Ultimate Mets Database, but according to daughter Tori, the lefty is an active member of an over-30 league in his home state despite being 40-plus years old these days. He'll have to keep at it for a few more millennia to break the Great Stone Face's record for longevity as a New Hampshire icon, but hey, teams always need LOOGYs, right?

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