In the aftermath of the firing of three coaches, the Mets, who had lost eight in row, came out swinging against Roger Clemens and the Yankees on this date in 1999. After putting up a four spot in the second, the Amazins knocked Clemens out of the box with three more runs in the third. The hitting stars were Benny Agbayani, with two hits and three RBIs; Bobby Bonilla, a two-run double; and Clemens nemesis Mike Piazza, a double and two-run homer.
Al Leiter, who began the evening with a 6.39 ERA over his first 10 starts, limited the Yankees to one run on four hits over seven innings, helping the Mets salvage one game out of the three-run series.
The Mets entered the game with a 27–28 record over their first 55 games, which led to GM Steve Phillips’ appointing new coaches to oversee the team’s hitters and pitchers. Bobby Valentine reportedly said at the time, “I believe in the next 55 games. If we’re not better, I shouldn’t be the manager.” They were much better. That trouncing of the Bronx Bombers on national TV was the first of 40 wins the Mets would chalk up over those next 55 games. Although they stumbled late in September, they made the postseason and got as far as the 11th inning of Game 6 of the NLCS.
Outfielder Jesus Feliciano celebrates his 34th birthday today as a member of Triple-A Mexico City’s Diablos Rojos. A competent fifth outfielder, he brought little to the table on offense, compiling a slant line of .231/.276./.287 in 110 plate appearances, driving in a mere three runs.
Infielder David Lamb, turning 38 today, played a handful of games with the pennant-bound Mets in May of 2000, mostly inserted for late-inning defense.
Happy 69th birthday to Bud Harrelson. Born on D-Day, the scrappy Gold Glove shortstop was on the frontlines for two pennant winners as a player and on the coaching lines for another–the only man to earn two World Series Championship rings as a Met.
The late Carl Willey would have been 82 today. In 1963 the right-hander threw four shutouts and pitched to an ERA of 3.10, a full run lower than the team’s average and 15th best in the NL. On July 15 that year, he hit a grand slam that put the Mets ahead to stay in a 14–5 rout of Houston. The following spring, a line drive off the bat of the Tigers Gates Brown fractured Willey’s jaw. When he returned in June he altered his deliver so he would finish in a better fielding position and was never quite as effective again. He finished his career on high note with a complete game 4–1 win over the Phillies on September 25, 1965.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On June 6, 1939, the Little League organization was established in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Despite the obvious jokes that could be made at the Mets expense, the Amazins moved their AA team to the home of the Little League World Series in 1964 and stayed for four seasons. Although many of the Mets’ Williamsport alumni did look like overmatched sandlotters in their brief stays with the parent club, several went on to play for the 1969 World Champions, including Ron Swoboda, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry, Jim McAndrew, Ken Boswell, and Duffy Dyer.