Happy birthday to Angel Berroa, the AL Rookie of the Year in 2003, turns 33 today. The shortstop hasn't made an MLB appearance since hitting .148/.233/.185 across 14 games for the Mets in 2009. He spent 2012 with the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association, bouncing around the diamond defensively and getting on base at a team-best .398 clip. Despite Berroa's best efforts, the Jackals fell seven games short of overtaking Les Capitales de Quebec, the last remaining Canadian team in said bi-national league, for the championship.
The late Nick Willhite would have turned 72 today. In 1991, Rusty Staub told the New York Times, "the worst swing I ever took at a pitch was against Nick Willhite." The left-hander came up as a Dodger in the early '60s, but alcoholism brought his career to a premature end, the last stop being a four game cameo with the 1967 Mets. Willhite eventually got sober with the help of MLB's Baseball Assistance Team and worked as an addictions counselor until his death in 2008.
Former GM Bing Devine passed away six years ago today. His tenure in the front office's top spot was short, lasting for just the 1967 season, though he'd joined the organization three years earlier as the assistant to outgoing GM George Weiss. Under his watch, the Mets began to add young talent to the system. Some of the pitching prospects signed during Devine's time include Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry, and Jim McAndrew.
The Mets have signed relievers old and young on this date. Regardless of age, neither did much with their new team. Back in 1984, GM Frank Cashen brought in former Cubs and Yankees sidearmer Dick Tidrow to be a veteran presence on the Mets' young pitching staff. The 37-year old racked up a 9.19 ERA in just 11 appearances before retiring. He'd tangentially help the Mets after his playing days were over, however. As scouting director for the San Francisco Giants, Tidrow recommended the team take Zack Wheeler with the number six pick in the 2009 draft.
Speaking of Wheelers, the Mets inked 25-year old Dan Wheeler (no relation) on this date in 2003. The righty made 67 appearances in one and half seasons with New York, posting solid, if seemingly hit-unlucky (a career-worst .328 BABIP in 2004), numbers before getting traded to the Astros. Wheeler's fortunes turned around in Houston and, save for a nightmare year in 2007, was one of baseball's better middle relievers until 2009.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Today is the 257th anniversary of Mozart's birth. A quick Google News search reveals that only two Mets have been compared to the great composer: Tom Seaver and Willie Mays. That's an amazing show of restraint on the part of our nation's sportswriters.