In his Mets debut on this date in 1998, Mike Piazza caught a four-hit shutout by Al Leiter. At the plate, Piazza was a modest 1-for-4, a two-out, his hit an insurance-run-scoring double in the fifth inning. According to The New York Times, almost 13,000 of the nearly 33,000 in attendance had purchased their tickets after the trade for Piazza was announced the day before. The victory was the third in a row of what would become a nine-game winning streak for the Amazins, with Piazza going 12-for-27 over the next six games.
Exactly one year later, with the Mets trailing Philadelphia 4-0, Piazza led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to begin an unlikely five-run rally against Phillies ace Curt Schilling.
Veteran infielder Ricky Gutierrez, turning 43 today, was picked up late in spring training in 2004 to take over for the injured Jose Reyes at second base (yes, second base; the Mets had signed Japanese star Kaz Matsui to play shortstop). Gutierrez brought nothing to the table offensively, and after 14 game starts was supplanted by Daniel Garcia and released two weeks later.
On July 21, 1976, the Mets picked up outfielders Pepe Mangual, who turns 61 today, and Jim Dwyer from the Expos, sending Wayne Garrett and Del Unser to Montreal in exchange. Two days later, the two teams played each other at Parc Jarry. Mangual tied the game with a two-run triple in the top of the eighth inning, but the Mets lost in the 11th on a walk-off home run by...Del Unser.
Reliever Butch Metzger, also turning 61 today, shared Rookie of the Year honors with Pat Zachry in 1976, and the two were briefly teammates on the 1978 Mets pitching staff. In his three months with the team, Metzger only once pitched in relief of Zachry, which was fortunate for the latter, given that the former earned three losses and contributed to seven others by giving up two or more runs, usually late in the game. He finished his Mets career with an ERA of 6.51.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
German physician Franz Anton Mesmer, born on this date in 1734, developed the use of hypnosis, and from his surname the term "mesmerized" was derived. When George Foster was struggling in the Cincinnati organization, the Reds sent him to a doctor who used hypnosis to get him back on track. Maybe that was in the back of Foster's mind when he helped put together the "Get Mets-merized" rap song and video with several fellow Mets in 1986. Some of us would like to be hypnotized into forgetting that particular aspect of an otherwise memorable season.