Tommie Agee will always be something of a legend, Mookie Wilson is clearly one of Metdom’s all-time favorites, and many still regard Lenny Dykstra with great affection. But on this date in 2005, the man who now reigns as the greatest center fielder in Mets history — and one of the franchise’s greatest players, period — agreed in principle to bring his five finely crafted tools to Shea Stadium. Two days later Carlos Beltran made it official, signing a seven-year, $119 million contract.
Beltran’s first season as a Met was a disappointment (perhaps trying too hard to live up to his admittedly generous paycheck) and some were all too quick to make comparisons to George Foster and Bobby Bonilla. But he bounced back big time in 2006 and by the time he was traded for uber-prospect Zach Wheeler in 2011, he had taken his place in the Mets' pantheon, ranking sixth all-time in slugging percentage and on-base percentage and fifth in OPS and home run frequency. Along the way he earned three Gold Gloves (only Keith Hernandez had more as a Met), tied the club record for home runs in a season, played in four All-Star games, and maintained his status as the MLB’s all-time leader in stolen base percentage.
Despite these accomplishments he will forever unfairly be blamed by certain radio types and their sycophantic legions for all of the Mets’ failures in the second half of the last decade. He is most vilified for making the last out in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, frozen by what many sportswriters and broadcasters described as an unhittable curveball from the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright. At least four other Mets could have turned the tide with a timely single in that game and over the course of that series it was the two Carloses, Beltran and Delgado, who did most of the heavy lifting to get the Mets to that final game in the first place.
In 1985, a joke between my father and me was that Dwight Gooden, 24-4 that year, had cost the Mets the division title, noting that the Amazins had finished three games out and Doc had lost four games. Blaming Beltran for the Mets' woes is also a joke, a cruel one perpetuated by willfully ignorant, hateful fans.
Celebrating his 60th birthday today is Phil Mankowski, who became the 64th third baseman in Mets history on April 15, 1980. He played in a handful of games that year and a slightly larger handful in 1982.
While the Mets were struggling to win 40 games in 1962, Ralph Terry, who turns 77 today, was winning more than half that many (23) across town for the Yankees. Four years later he joined the Mets by way of the Kansas City A’s and finished his career at Shea with a perfect two-inning relief outing on April 15, 1967.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. The state, specifically the city of New Haven, would become the birthplace of two presidents, both named George. One was George W. Bush, who took office in January of 2001. Nearly 40 years earlier, George M. Weiss had been named the first president of the Mets. Weiss’s vice president, coincidentally, was G. Herbert Walker, W’s great uncle and also a native of Connecticut (Greenwich).