On this date in 1962 the Mets signed 17-year-old Ed Kranepool, newly graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx. He made his Mets debut that September and got one hit, a double, in six at-bats.
Kranepool spent his entire 18-year career with Mets, not counting a few stints in the minors, including a devasting demotion in 1970. That season he got off to a horrible start that would make Ike Davis blush and he and his shiny new World Series Championship ring were demoted to Tidewater. He considered retirement, but instead tore it up in Triple-A and on August 14 he was back with the Mets to stay.
It took a while for Mets fans to warm up to Kranepool, but as time went by he morphed in their eyes from "Super Stiff" to "Steady Eddie." He was especially steady coming of the bench. In 1974 he batted .486 as a pinch hitter and, from that season through 1978, his pinch-hit average was just four points shy of .400.
As a regular, his problem was that he was not a slugger, never hitting more than 16 home runs in a season, and even if his so-so on-base-percentage had been higher, it would be negated by his lack of foot speed. He did manage six seasons in which his OPS+ was 110 or better, all the while playing solid defense at first base.
His lack of power is also likely to blame for the fact that no one, including the new owners of the Mets, showed any serious interest in signing him as a free agent after the 1979 season. He retired, holding many of the team's offensive records that are being eclipsed, one by one, by Met-for-life (we assume) David Wright.
Happy 37th birthday to supersub Chris Woodward, who played every position except pitcher and catcher for the Mets in 2005 and 2006. His first year as a Met was the better one offensively, highlighted by an 11th-inning walk-off home run to beat the Padres on July 19, 2005. In his last Mets at-bat he hit a pinch double and scored a tack-on run in the Amazins' NLDS clincher against the Dodgers.
Reliever Ricardo Jordan, turning 43 today, would have been much more successful as a 1997 Met had his WHIP (1.7) and K/BB (1.3) been reversed. He was a lefty who struggled more against left-handed hitters than right, but both contributed to a 5.33 ERA that ended his Mets career after one season.
The Mets had a five game lead over the Phillies when Marlins icon Jeff Conine (then 41, now 47) joined the club on August 22, 2007. With Conine contributing next to nothing on offense, they suffered a historic collapse in September and were eliminated on the last day of the season by...the Marlins. Coincidence? Bad karma? Discuss.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Writer-producer-director J.J. Abrams was born on this date in 1966. He is responsible for, among other popular entertainment fare, the new "Star Trek" franchise and the TV series "Lost" and "Fringe." A key element of the latter is an alternate universe where, among other differences from our Earth, the Statue of Liberty has retained its copper facade and dirigibles are a common form of transportation. Given such a scenario, is it too much to imagine a parallel world in which Carlos Beltran hits a three-run double off of Adam Wainwright and Tom Glavine has no reason to not feel devastated? Of course, in the alternate "Fringe" New York, there are no Mets (the Dodgers never left Brooklyn), so we'll stick with the universe as we know it.