In the fifty-plus years since the Mets joined the National League, the team has kept a total of nine players around long enough for them to reach the 1,000 hit plateau. The first of the nonet, Cleon Jones, did so forty years ago today. His millennial base knock, a third inning double off of the Pirates' Jim Rooker, brought home Willie Mays with what would prove to be the go-ahead run in a 5-1 win over Pittsburgh.
Dae-Sung Koo, 44 today, retired exactly 999 hits short of becoming the tenth Met to join the 1,000 hit club. That said, the Korean left-hander does have a double to his name. Leading off against Randy Johnson in the the seventh inning of a 2005 Subway Series match-up, Mister Koo drove a fly ball into the deepest part of Shea's outfield expanse, well over the head of center fielder Bernie Williams, allowing him to essentially walk into second base standing up. He'd get his uniform dirty one play later, however.
With the Mets clinging to a 2-0 lead, Jose Reyes dropped down a sacrifice bunt that catcher Jose Posada pounced on and fired to first in time to get the speedy shortstop. That left home plate unoccupied. Hardly breaking his stride, Koo made the turn at third and kept on chugging, not so much sliding in ahead of Posada's tag as collapsing face first into the plate before the cacher could get a glove on him.
The Mets purchased pitcher Cal Koonce from the Cubs on this date in 1967. The righty out of North Carolina saved 18 games as a Met, though his biggest claim to fame comes from a game he failed to close out. Koonce couldn't put it in the books against the Montreal Expos on Opening Day 1969, thereby helping the brand-new franchise win its first-ever game.
Game of Note
A three-run ninth inning rally made Frank Viola a winner in his Mets debut, which came on August 2, 1989. Sweet Music walked five Cardinals and allowed another four to reach via base hit, through he escaped after eight frames having allowed just two to score. St. Louis closer Todd Worrell retired the first two batters he faced to bring the Redbirds with an out of victory, but back-to-back doubles by Keith Hernandez and Juan Samuel tied things up. Cards manager Whitey Herzog opted to intentionally walk the next hitter, Howard Johnson, which made sense given HoJo's total pwnage of Todd Worrell (four career homers in just 13 career at-bats). Less sensical was the follow-up free pass to Darryl Strawberry. That brought up Kevin McReynolds to the plate, who laced a fastball into center for a two-RBI single. Randy Myers gave one back in the bottom of the night, but ultimately held on for a 4-3 Mets win.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
It was on this date in 1876 that Wild Bill Hickok met his maker during a poker game, the victim of bullet to the back of the head fired at point-blank range by Jack McCall. At the time of his killing, Hickok was holding two pair, aces and eights, all black, a hand that's become known as the dead man's hand. Mets ace Al Leiter sported a pair of twos, as in the number 22, on his jersey during his seven years with the club. His tenure was mostly free of black marks, though the New Jersey native was none too happy that the Mets chose to ink Pedro Martinez after the 2004 season rather than bring him back for one last go-round. He retaliated by signing with the Yankees, a move that could have caused some Flushing faithful to declare Leiter dead to them.