If Luis Castillo still had any fans defending him at the start of action on this date in 2009, he likely lost them when he... but we're getting ahead of ourselves. It was a see-saw game that ended with a merry-go-round ride for the home-field Yankees, who grabbed the (tarnished) gold ring and beat the Mets 9-8. In a contest during which the lead changed hands six times, the Amazins held an 8-7 lead as closer Francisco Rodriguez took the mound in the bottom of the ninth.
The trouble started, as it often does when these crosstown rivals meet, with Derek Jeter, who singled and later stole second to put himself in scoring position with two out. Defying The Book ("Thou shalt not put the potential winning run on base") manager Jerry Manuel had the right-handed K-Rod intentionally walk the hot, switch-hitting Mark Teixeira to go after the slumping Alex Rodriguez. The strategy appeared to work as A-Rod hit a seemingly harmless pop-up into short right field. Second baseman Castillo backpedaled and, also defying The Book ("Thou shalt use two hands when catching a fly ball") reached up to make a one-hand grab...and dropped the ball. Castillo compounded his error by throwing the ball to second base in a futile attempt to nail A-Rod, not noticing that Teixeira by this time had rounded third and was heading home with the winning run.
On June 12, 1964, the Mets signed lefty Tug McGraw , who would have pitched to and struck out Mark Teixeira, and walked off the mound slapping his glove against his leg in triumph.
Outfielder Damon Buford, who turns 43 today, came to the Mets in late July of 1995 along with Alex Ochoa in the trade that sent Bobby Bonilla to Baltimore. Playing almost every day through the last two months of the season, he compiled a respectable .346 on-base percentage and showed some pop, but ultimately failed his audition and was traded over the winter.
Happy big 5-0 to scrappy infielder and failed center field experiment Keith Miller. A utility player who had some extended stints as a regular, he played in 308 games from 1987-1991, compiling a .677 OPS and a 3.9 offensive WAR over 308 games, offset somewhat by a defensive WAR of -1.2. His career highlight as a Met was a weekend series against the Reds, August 30 to September 1, 1991, during which he went 7-for-14, including a double and a game-winning home run, five RBI and three runs scored. Today Miller works for ACES, the agency that represents David Wright, which explains why his is among the few dozen players shown in action on banners around Citi Field. In fact, his is side by side with the one of Wright.
Left Gerry Arrigo, turning 72 today, pitched respectably as a reliever and spot starter for the 1966 Mets. It seemed that just as he was hitting his stride — a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings over his last six games — they sold him to Cincinnati from whence he came.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Everything's relative on this date in history.
In 1939, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated in Cooperstown, NY where it was believed (but later disproved) that Abner Doubleday, great-great-grand uncle of former Mets owner Nelson Doubleday, had invented baseball exactly 100 years earlier.
George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, turns 89 years old today. His uncle and namesake, George Herbert Walker, served as a Mets Executive Vice President from the teams's inception until his death in 1977.
And if not for Adelbert Moseder, born on June 12, 1911, you would be reading somebody else's column here today.