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This Date In Mets History: January 1 — Happy Birthday, Fernando Tatis

The man, the myth, the scrap-heap superstar turns 37 today.

Doug Benc/Getty Images

Fernando Tatis celebrates his 37th birthday today. In 2008, following an unlikely turn of events, he became a feel-good story in a feel-bad season. Tatis’ career got off a promising start with the Rangers in 1977 and he had a monster 1999 season as a Cardinal that included an April 23 game in which he hit two grand slams in one inning off of the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park. His numbers began to slide over the next few seasons, however, and after being released by Tampa Bay in March 2004, he retired and went home to the Dominican Republic.

When a church construction project he became involved in there ran short of funds, he figured the best way to raise money was by returning to professional baseball. The Orioles signed him to a minor league contract in 2006 and promoted him to the big club in late July. Despite decent offensive numbers, he was granted free agency in December and signed with the Dodgers. When L.A. released him late in spring training, Omar Minaya signed him to a AAA contract.

Tatis had a solid 2007 for New Orleans, but he failed to earn a promotion. Then in late May of 2008, an injury to Moises Alou opened the door for him. He played in 92 games, starting 66 of them, mostly in the outfield. His 11 HR, 47 RBI and .853 OPS helped earn him The Sporting News’ Comeback Player of the Year Award, although e separated shoulder from diving for a fly ball caused him to miss the last two weeks of the season, leaving the Mets short one productive right-handed bat.

In 2009, an injury to Carlos Delgado combined with Daniel Murphy’s inability to master left field led to continued semi-regular status for Tatis. His numbers weren’t quite as good, however, and the following year they declined sharply. In July 2010 he suffered his second shoulder injury in less than two years, ending his professional baseball career. His last at-bat was a pinch single on July 4, 2010. Thanks, Fernando…it was fun while it lasted.

Amazin’ly Tenuous Connection

Singer-songwriter Joe McDonald of Country Joe & the Fish turns 70 today. In April of 1977 he released his 10th solo album, “Goodbye Blues.” Two months later another Joe McDonald, the general manager of the Mets, had fans singing the goodbye blues in the wake of the Tom Seaver trade.