The Mets' battery of Sid Fernandez and Gary Carter was fully charged on this date in 1986 as New York zapped Atlanta 11-0. The All-Star catcher wowed the crowd at Shea Stadium by smacking a three-run homer in the first inning and, for an encore, hitting a grand slam in the second. Carter's fist pumping after his bases-clearing blast riled Braves pitcher Dave Palmer, who drilled the next batter, Darryl Strawberry, in the back, which precipitated a benches-clearing brawl.
Such altercations were becoming rather routine for this high-flying, high-fiving, encore-taking Mets team...almost as routine as the sight of pitcher Sid Fernandez befuddling batters. El Sid was extra sharp that night as he cruised to a two-hit shutout, striking out nine, walking three, and improving his record to 12-2 with a 2.67 ERA. He also outhit the Braves all by himself, collecting two doubles and single, driving home one run and scoring two others.
Reliever Blaine Boyer is celebrating his 32nd birthday today in Japan as a member of the Hanshin Tigers. He pitched in five games for the Mets at the start of the 2011 season, saving one game and losing two before being released. The shame of it is that when he and Tim Byrdak were signed on the same day (January 21) to be part of a new, improved bullpen, it inspired some of us to come up with a rallying cry that, alas, would go unshouted: "It's a Byrdak! It's a Blaine! It's SuperPen!"
Outfielder Mark Little played a little for the Cards, a little for the D-backs and Indians, a little bit more for the Rockies, and very little for the Mets: three fruitless at-bats, to be precise. He is celebrating his 41st birthday today.
Reliever Donne Wall, who turns 46 today, is one of many pitchers who put up good numbers for the San Diego Padres but struggled as a Met (see also Randy Jones, Mike Maddux, Gene Walter, Frank Seminara, Brian Lawrence, et al). One of the NL's better set-up men from 1998-2000, Wall became very hittable with the 2001 Mets while compiling a 4.85 ERA, nearly two full runs higher than his career mark with the Pods.
When shortstop Bud Harrelson went down with a season-ending injury in late May of 1975, one of the players assigned to fill the void was Jack Heidemann, turning 64 today. A decent enough defensive player, he got off to a hot start at the plate but quickly cooled off, finishing the season with a slash line of .214/.291/.290.
Happy 75th birthday to light-hitting, lightly used infielder Ted Schreiber, who made the final out ever recorded at the Amazins' original home park, the Polo Grounds, on September 18, 1963. My account of that game, in verse, can be found at the bottom of Schreiber's player page on the Baseball Almanac website.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of United States, was born on this date in 1767. In an unprecedented move, Adams returned to Congress after completing his term as the nation's chief executive. In a move with multiple precedents, Todd Zeile, who claims to be a direct descendant of Adams, returned to the Mets as a free agent in 2004 after having been traded away two years earlier. More than a dozen players have had a second go-round with the Amazins after leaving town, most notably Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub, Dave Kingman, Lee Mazzilli, Al Jacskon, Tim Foli, Jeromy Burnitz, Mike Jorgensen, Alex Trevino, Roger Cedeno, and, just two years ago, Jason Isringhausen. Perhaps the most surprising, and unsuccessful, return engagements were those of Bobby Bonilla and Kevin McReynolds. The longest hiatus between Mets gigs was that of right-hander Bob Miller, who pitched for the Aamzins in 1962 and 1974.