You might say that Tim Teufel, acquired by the Mets on this date in 1986, was the last piece of the puzzle for the team destined to be World Champions. With Wally Backman continuing to struggle mightily against lefties and his platoon partner Kelvin Chapman, who had a surprisingly solid campaign in ’84, dropping off the table in ’85, the Mets needed a solid right-handed bat at second base.
Teufel, who the Mets got from the Twins in exchange for Billy “Moneyball” Beane and pitchers Bill Latham and Joe Klink, fit that bill and paid quick dividends. He drove in seven runs in his first nine games including doubling home the tying run and scoring the winning run on April 21 to beat the Pirates 5–4, and slugging a two-run homer that was the margin of victory in a 5–3 win over the Cards on April 27. On June 10, his walk-off grand slam beat the Phillies 8–4.
His overall numbers that season, though not remarkable, were a quantum leap ahead of Chapman’s. He also contributed to Mets lore with a distinctive hip wiggle in the batter’s box that was became known as the “Teufel Shuffle.”
In 1987, when so much went wrong for the Mets, Tuff had a career year. In 351 plate appearances he slugged 14 home runs, drove in 61, tied Darryl Strawberry for the club lead in on-base percentage, and was second to Straw in slugging. His .943 OPS was more than 200 points above his career average. He came back to earth in 1988 and then, with the emergence of Gregg Jefferies, was primarily a bench player for the remainder of his Mets career. (For the record, Jefferies’s OPS as a Met was only one point higher than Tuff’s.)
Teufel returned to the Mets organization as a minor league manager in 2007 and is now the big club’s third base coach. Backman, who came back into the fold in 2010, will manage Triple-A Las Vegas this year. There is no truth to the rumor that, when Terry Collins’s tenure is over, these two will co-manage the Mets, with Wally at the helm when they face a right-handed starter and Tim leading the troops against lefties.
Dave Jauss, who turns 56 today, was the Mets’ bench coach in 2010. On July 27 of that year, Jauss, subbing for the suspended Jerry Manual, led his team to an 8–2 drubbing of the Central Division-leading Cardinals. A few nights earlier, after Manuel had been ejected in an incident that led to the subsequent suspension, Jauss managed the last seven-plus innings of a Mets 6–1 win against the Dodgers. If Manuel’s suspension had been a little longer, the Mets might have finished the season at .500.
The late Ron Herbel would have been 75 today. Picked up from the Padres on September 1, 1970, his 2–2 mark down the stretch was consistent with the team’s .500 performance over their last 30 games as dreams of back-to-back World Championships ended with a whimper. Herbel is perhaps best known for his offensive prowess: In 206 career at-bats, his slash line reads .029/.065/.039. It’s enough to make even Al Leiter cringe.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Dave Stapleton celebrates his 59th birthday today. He might have celebrated a championship at age 32 had he taken over first base for Bill Buckner after the Red Sox had gone ahead 5–3 in the top of the 10th in Game Six of the ’86 World Series. It was a defensive move Boston skipper John McNamara had made three times previously in the Series as well as four times in the ALCS against the Angels and on 27 occasions during the ’86 season. But McNamara felt that Buckner deserved to be on the field for the victory celebration. And so the next day everyone was talking about Mookie and Buckner—and of Hell and good intentions.