Bob Murphy was fond of saying, “Baseball is a game of redeeming features.” Few Mets players know that better than Brooklyn native Shawon Dunston, who celebrates his 50th birthday today. In the 11th inning of a game on September 30, 1999, Dunston misplayed Brian Jordan’s deep but catchable fly ball into a triple. Jordan scored the winning run for the Braves, leaving the Mets seemingly dead in the water, two games behind both the Reds and Astros in the Wild Card race with only three left to play. But the next night, also in the 11th, Dunston led off with a single and scored the winning run against the Pirates on a Robin Ventura single. The Mets won three more straight, including a one-game playoff against the Reds.
Flash forward to Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS. For Dunston, it’s déjà vu all over again, as Yogi would say. His failure to catch a Keith Lockhart fly in the top of the 15th led to another triple and the Braves soon took a one-run lead. Dunston quickly redeemed himself again, leading off the bottom of the inning with a 12-pitch at-bat that resulted in a single. He then stole second and later scored the tying run, after which Robin Ventura won the game with his “grand slam single.”
1999 was a belated homecoming, of sorts, for Dunston, whom the Mets had hoped to draft as their shortstop of the future in 1982, but they were beaten out by the Cubs and had to “settle” for Dwight Gooden instead.
Happy 74th birthday to another Brooklyn-born Met, Tommy Davis, who in 1967 led the club in just about every offensive category except triples and steals. It was a strong comeback season for Davis after two injury-plagued years. His showing impressed the power-starved Chicago White Sox, who were willing to part with promising young outfielder Tommie Agee to obtain Davis’s services.
The late Arthur Richman, a member of the Brooklyn College Hall of Fame, would have been 87 today. He worked in the Mets’ front office for 25 years, serving as, in chronological order, promotion director, director of public relations, traveling secretary, travel director, and special assistant to GM Frank Cashen. In 1989 he jumped to the Yankees and served as a senior VP and advisor for almost two decades, and was largely responsible for the hiring of Joe Torre as manager.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Topping the Billboard pop charts on this date in 1981 was REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You.” It’s not exactly a favorite song of ours, but it does accurately express the sentiment of most Mets fans, especially back then following four consecutive losing seasons, including three last-place finishes.