Today's another slow day in Mets history with no news or trades of note to report. That said, the parents of several former New York Metropolitans were getting busy nine months prior, because eight ex-members of the organization can claim February 18 as a date of birth.
- Shawn Estes turns 40. The lefty made 23 starts for the Mets in 2002, including one against Roger Clemens and the Yankees at Shea Stadium on June 15. That marked the first time the Rocket was forced to face live Met pitching since his bat/ball transmogrifying freakout during the 2000 World Series. Estes, of course, put a fastball behind Clemens's back rather than into it, though he did exact a small measure of revenge by sending one of Roger's offerings over the wall for a two-run homer.
- Lou Gorman, architect of the 1986 Red Sox, would have been 84 today. Prior to taking the position of Boston's general manager, Gorman served as the Mets' VP of player personnel under Frank Cashen from 1980 to '84. The first trade consummated between mentor and protege was the one that made Bob Ojeda a Met in exchange for John Christensen, Wes Gardner, LaSchelle Tarver, and Calvin Schiraldi. The latter was the losing pitcher in Game Six of the '86 Series, a loss that Gorman described in his memoir, High and Inside, as "a tragic defeat that was very difficult to live with."
- Former coach Dal Maxvill is 74. The longtime St. Louis shortstop joined manager Joe Torre's staff in 1978, but lasted just one season in New York. Six years later, he rejoined the Cardinals as the team's general manager.
- Infielder Jeff McKnight hits the big 5-0. Jeff has the distinction of wearing being the Met who wore the most jersey numbers during his New York tenure, having donned five different integers in his four Flushing seasons. For the full breakdown, check out his profile on Mets by the Numbers.
- Two men named Bob Miller pitched for the 1962 Mets. The right-handed one, Bob Lane Miller, would have celebrated his 74th birthday today. With two hurlers on his staff possessing the same name, Casey Stengel took to calling Bob L. Miller "Nelson", though whether that was to reduce confusion or out of befuddlement on the septuagenarian skipper's part is up for debate. Whatever the case, Nelson's other claim to fame was losing his first 12 decisions of '62, a record for Mets futility that stood until Anthony Young broke it in 1993.
- Outfielder Jerry Morales is 64. The Mets signed Morales as a free agent out of Puerto Rico in 1966, but lost him two years later to the Padres in 1968 expansion draft. He'd finally wind up playing for New York in 1980 and hit .254/.293.347 while serving as the team's fourth outfielder. That was below-average production (81 OPS+), but seeing as he was acquired in a trade that rid the team of Richie "The Grave Digger" Hebner, one of the bigger malcontents in Mets history, production was a secondary concern.
- Despite pitching in just three games as a Met, Kevin Tapani, 49 today, managed to appear in two of the bigger trades in franchise history. The right-hander came to New York in 1987 via a three-way deal that shipped Jesse Orosco to the Dodgers and 1990 Cy Young Award winner Bob Welch to the Athletics. Two years later, Tapani was again moved for a Cy Young winner. On July 31, 1989, GM Frank Cashen pulled the trigger on a long-rumored deal that sent Tapani, Rick Aguilera, Tim Drummond, and David West to the Twins for the 39th best Met of All-Time, Frank Viola.
- Last but not least, John Valentin is 46. The Mineola native finished out his 11-year pro career by playing 114 games with his hometown team in 2002. Much like his Mets, Red Sox, and Seton Hall University teammate Mo Vaughn, Valentin was a shell of his former, slugging self by the time he donned the orange and blue. Hobbled by injuries, Valentin connected for just three homers in his final MLB season, though one was a pinch hit job that helped the Mets complete a five-run comeback against the rival Braves on April 15.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
According to the Christian liturgical calendar, today is the feast day of Bernadette Soubirous, the patron saint of "people ridiculed for their faith." Two things: One, clearly the church is running out of things to make people the patron saints of. Secondly, in case you didn't see it in the Mets Morning News earlier today, happy eighth anniversary to Faith and Fear in Flushing, a blog that's never lost its faith despite all the ridiculous things that have happened with the New York Mets since its first post went live.