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This Date In Mets History: March 19 — Major setbacks for two-thirds of ‘Generation K’

Three years apart, two young pitchers suffer career-derailing arm injuries.

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On March 19, 1996, Bill Pulsipher, who had left the previous night’s game with discomfort in his pitching arm, underwent an MRI test that showed a strained tendon in his left elbow. No surgery would be needed, the doctors said; just some rest and rehab. One week later he was placed on the disabled list, ended up missing the entire season, didn’t return to the majors until 1998, and would never fulfill the promise of his rookie season.

Flash forward to that same date three years later.

While warming up before a minor league spring training game, Paul Wilson suffered a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Eleven days later he underwent Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him for the year. He had spent most of 1997 and a good deal of 1998 recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Wilson at least would find steady employment for a few seasons with Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, highlighted by an 11–6 mark with the 2004 Reds despite a 4.36 ERA and 1.4 WHIP.

Jason Isringhausen was the lucky one of the “Generation K” trio. Injuries and surgeries would keep him on the shelf for most of 1997 and all of 1998, but he would come back in a big way as a closer for the A’s and Cardinals, and spend one more season as a Met in 2011, collecting 19 holds and seven saves.

Consider the above the next time you cluck your tongue when a young pitcher is pulled from a game after 100 pitches or is shut down after reaching a predetermined number of innings for the season. In their last full respective minor league seasons before joining the Mets, Isringhausen, Pulsipher, and Wilson threw 193, 201, and 187 innings. Compare that with Matt Harvey’s 136 in 2011, and Zach Wheeler’s and Darin Gorski’s totals of 149 and 140 last season.

It’s the big 6–0 for first baseman Tim Corcoran. All those who remember him from the 1986 Mets, raise your right hand. Now, if your right hand is up but you are lying, raise your left hand too. Ha! Thought so.

Righty reliever Don Rose, who pitched in one game for the Mets in 1971, is 66 today. His claim to fame is as a reminder that Nolan Ryan alone was not enough to pry Jim Fregosi loose from the Angels; rather, the Mets had to throw in Rose, Frank Estrada, and Leroy Stanton to sweeten the deal, which of course turned sour for the Amazins.

The late, great Richie Ashburn would have been 86 today. You could say he was the original Met, having made the first official plate appearance ever for the new franchise. He was also the first Mets representative in an All-Star Game. Ashburn, whose previous career high in home runs was four and who went homerless in the two previous seasons, hit seven for the Amazins in 1962. Six were struck at the Polo Grounds, where he took advantage of the short porches in left (279 feet) and right (258 feet) and, on one occasion, exploited the vast distances of the alleys for an inside-the-park round-tripper. His .424 on-base percentage wasn’t equaled by a Met until Keith Hernandez in 1983 and went unbroken until John Olerud posted .447 in 1998. The future Hall of Famer was also a central character in the ’62 team’s signature “Yo la tengo!” incident. He wisely chose to go out on top, leaving the Mets after that first season to join the Phillies’ broadcast team.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1628 The Massachusetts Colony was founded and, in 1822, the city of Boston was incorporated. Over the years some pretty good Mets players hailed from the Bay State — most notably Tom Glavine, Turk Wendell, Skip Lockwood, Rico Brogna, and Jeff Reardon — and Springfield’s Kevin Collins was part of the trade that brought Donn Clendenon to the 1969 Mets. Boston, as in Red Sox, practically handed the Amazins the 1986 World Championship by sending Bob Ojeda to New York in exchange for Calvin Schiraldi. Ojeda, the ’86 Mets’ stealth ace, started two of the Series games they won, while Schiraldi was the losing pitcher for Boston in Games 6 and 7.

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