At Shea Stadium on this date in 1970, 23-year-old Nolan Ryan showed why the Mets were both intrigued and frustrated by his powerful right arm. In his 30th game start, Ryan, who wore uniform number 30, pitched a one-hitter to notch his first career shutout, striking out 15 Phillies along the way. He also walked six—the first of 13 games that season in which he issued five or more bases on balls, contributing to seven of his 11 losses against only seven wins. He would finish the season with a lackluster 1.4 WHIP and 1.3 K/BB.
Eleven years to the day later, once and future Mets ace Tom Seaver, pitching for the Cincinnati Reds, struck out future Met Keith Hernandez to register his 3,000th career strikeout.
It’s the big 4–0 for outfielder Brady Clark, who made 24 unremarkable plate appearances in two stints with New York, six years apart (2002 and 2008). In between he had some decent seasons with the Brewers.
Happy 43rd birthday to first baseman Rico Brogna. Knee injuries and a chronically sore lower back limited his playing time in 1994 and 1996, but in 1995 he put in a full season and showed what he could do when healthy: 22 home runs, 76 RBI, and an .827 OPS (OPS+ 119). In the field he displayed above average range while committing only three errors. Concerns about Brogna’s long-term health led GM Joe McIlvaine, who already had John Olerud on his radar, to deal him to the Phillies for a pair of mediocre relievers.
Doug Flynn celebrates his 62nd birthday today. The most popular of the four players acquired in the Tom Seaver trade, Flynn was known primarily for his fielding, and indeed won a Gold Glove in 1980, but he also set a couple of records with his bat. His 61 RBI in 1979 was the most ever by a Mets second baseman at the time and stood until Jeff Kent eclipsed him in 1993. And, on August. 5, 1980, he tied a major league mark by hitting three triples in one game.
How often do teammates get traded together twice by the same team? It happened to Chuck Taylor, 71 today, and Jim Beauchamp nearly eight years apart. The Cardinals dispatched the duo to Houston in February 1964, and, after reacquiring them in separate transactions, sent them to the Mets in October 1971 in an eight-player swap that sent Art Shamsky and Jim Bibby, among others, to St. Louis. Taylor was a pretty good relief pitcher before arriving and after leaving, but his season with the Mets was the worst of his career.
A September call-up in 1962, Larry Foss, turning 77 today, lost his only start—thereby making a small contribution toward the Mets’ record 120-loss inaugural season.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
The Irish Republic was proclaimed on this date in 1949. About 35 years later the Mets began wearing special green uniforms on St. Patrick’s Day. In the late 1990s they inaugurated an annual Irish Night among other heritage salutes. And, over the past few seasons, on most nights at Citi Field, Daniel Thomas Murphy strides to the plate to the rousing sound of American Celtic punk band the Dropkick Murphys. It’s cool walk-up music; we only hope that the song’s title—“I’m Shipping Up to Boston”—doesn’t turn out to be prophetic, especially if Murph keeps hitting the way he has the first two weeks of the 2013 season.