The biggest surprises in Mets history (Part 1)
2015 was crazy and unexpected, but that's nothing new to Mets
NEW YORK -- The 2015 World Series already is a surprise, partly because the Mets are involved. When the season began, the idea of the Mets reaching the postseason was difficult to imagine, and by midseason -- when David Wright was an observer, Travis d'Arnaud was also on the DL, and a three-run rally was a fantasy -- it was unfathomable.
But here they are, alive and well, operative well into Reggie's month and surprising us at every turn. As Halloween approaches, Daniel Murphy is masquerading as Babe Ruth, the starting pitchers have disguised themselves as Murderers Row-tation, and all the flaws that were so conspicuous at times in the regular season have been masked.
Beginning with the home run hat-trick by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in July, this Mets' season has been, in the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise, surprise." But, of course, the Mets often have provided the unexpected and the unlikely in their 54 seasons.
Herein, MLB.com presents what it considers the 41 most unlikely occurrences in Mets history. Why 41? It's a salute to Tom Seaver, of course (See No. 38.) The Franchise became a most pleasant surprise for the franchise.
Nos. 1-20 can be found here.
41. By 2000, Bobby Jones had been an important component of the Mets' rotation for more than six seasons. Yet in April of that year, he accepted a demotion to the Minor Leagues -- an assignment prompted by ineffective pitching. Jones returned to the big leagues in May, and five months later he pitched a one-hitter against the Giants in the Mets' clinching victory in Game 4 of the 2000 National League Division Series. Borderline presposterous -- he hadn't pitched a shutout since 1997 -- but true.
40. The last-place Mets amassed 19 runs in a game at Wrigley Field against the ninth-place Cubs on May 26, 1964. It was the greatest run total in the club's brief history (two-plus seasons). Unaware of the outcome of the game, a curious fan called the Associated Press office in Manhattan and asked "How'd the Mets do?" The reply was "They scored 19 runs." The caller's reaction: "Oh yeah! Did they win?"
39. Pitching in relief, Anthony Young allowed the tying run to score in the eighth inning and the go-ahead run to score in the ninth. Yet he emerged as the winning pitcher against the Marlins at Shea Stadium on July 28, 1993, thus ending his personal losing streak at 27 games. A surprise of monumental proportions.
38. Picking from a baseball cap in a special, one-player draft, the Mets gained the rights to a right-handed power pitcher from USC on June 3, 1966. And Seaver not only became the only Hall of Famer identified as a Met on his Hall of Fame plaque, but he received the highest percentile (98.14) vote in HOF balloting.
37. Mets outfielder Daryl Boston had appeared in 531 games and batted 1,593 times, but he'd never been hit by a pitch. Finally in the third inning of a game at Wrigley Field on June 13, 1990, he was hit by Mike Harkey. Two days later, in the Mets' ensuing game, Boston was hit again, this time by Walt Terrell of the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. Each instance was surprising. But the second was more improbable. The first time, he was due; the second time prompted a "What are the odds?" from Boston.
And what were the odds that when Boston was hit with the bases loaded by Juan Agosto of the Cardinals in the 13th inning of a game on April 23, 1992, at Shea Stadium, the ball would lodge inside his uniform top? What a way to walk off!
36. A big surprise for the Big Unit. Relief pitcher Dae-Sung Koo, in the second of his two career at-bats, doubled against Randy Johnson to initiate a two-run rally in the Mets' 7-1 victory against the Yankees on May 21, 2005, at Shea Stadium. (Koo wore uniform No. 17. Perhaps that hit is the reason the Mets have never retired No. 17 for Keith Hernandez.)
35. On June 2, 1998, in his second season with the Mets, slow-footed John Olerud stole a base for the first time as a National League player and for the fourth time in 10 big league seasons. "I know they run more in the National League," was his smirking explanation. Olerud acknowledged his nickname as a pre-teen player had been "Cheetah."
34. Understudy catcher Todd Pratt, who started in place of injured Mike Piazza, hit a home run with one out in the 10th inning to beat the D-backs at Shea Stadium in the decisive fourth game of NL Division Series in 1999. The NLDS was the Mets' first postseason series in 11 years.
33. Seemingly doomed by their unproductive offense and coming off a staggering 11th-hour loss to the Padres in the previous game, the 2015 Mets swept a three-game home series from the first-place Nationals from July 31-Aug. 2 to move into a tie for first place in the NL East. The Mets scored five runs in a four-batter sequence in the third inning of the third game, hitting three home runs in a five-pitch sequence.
32. Unable to touch Pedro Martinez in 11 previous confrontations, the Mets defeated Martinez twice in seven days -- 7-0, on May 28, and 2-1, on June 3 -- in 1997. Jones won both games, allowing one run in 17 innings.
31. Mets rookie Tim Foli was nicknamed "Crazy Horse" for good reason. After first baseman teammate Ed Kranepool refused to throw grounders to Foli before an inning during a home game in May, 1971 -- Foli had repeatedly bounced return throws to Kranepool -- the two fought in the dugout. Kranepool won with one punch.
30. Decided underdogs in the NLDS because of the Dodgers' high-profile pitchers, the Mets beat Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and advanced to the 2015 NLCS.
29. The Rose-Bud affair. Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose fought at second base during Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS. Rose had been insulted by a comment made by Harrelson after the Mets' 5-0 victory in Game 2. Harrelson had said "The Big Red Machine looked like me hitting."
28. With Roger Craig, a 24-game loser the previous season, pitching a complete game the Mets defeated the Cubs, 3-2, at Wrigley Field on Thursday, April 25, 1963. That victory, one of merely 51 for the Mets in their second season, marked the first time they ever had won on a Thursday. They had lost 15 Thursday games in 1962, and one earlier in '63.
27. Sandy Koufax dominated the NL as few others have. He was particularly dominant against the Mets, and it was not until Aug. 26, 1965 -- when he started against them for the 19th time -- that they finally beat him. Tug McGraw (two runs in 7 2/3 innings) was the winning pitcher. Koufax allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings. He had won his first 13 decisions against the Mets.
26. The Mets opened Citi Field in 2009. The fence in right-center field was distant and had the effect of reducing the homer potential of David Wright. Surprising and -- for Wright -- perplexing.
25. Tom Glavine was the consummate professional. He could bunt, hit a little bit and he could field his position. The Mets were eliminated from the 2007 division race on the season's final day, when they lost to the Marlins, 8-1, at Shea Stadium. The Marlins scored seven runs in the first inning. A critical play was Glavine's uncharacteristic throwing error that allowed one run to score and cost the Mets the second out. Four batters later, Glavine hit opposing pitcher Dontrelle Willis with a pitch. It marked the second time in 20 years Glavine had hit a batter with the bases loaded. Have the Mets ever endured a more damaging or stunning half inning?
24. The three-run rally in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS was stunning. Shut out by the Astros' Bob Knepper for eight innings and unnerved by the prospect of facing Mike Scott in Game 7, the Mets tied the score and won the game and the pennant seven innings later.
23. One month into his brief Mets tenure, Jimmy Piersall hit the 100th home run of his big league career against Phillies pitcher Dallas Green -- the future Mets manager -- at the Polo Grounds on June 23, 1963. Piersall ran the bases in proper sequence, but he ran backwards.
22. Two words -- Sidd Finch.
21. The image of Marv Throneberry essentially served as the mascot for the dreadful 1962 Mets. Almost anything the Marvelous one did enhanced the image he wished he could have eliminated.
But what happened on June 17 that year assured him of eternal infamy. A half-inning after he was was called for obstruction at first base, Throneberry reached third base on an apparent triple. However, he was called out at first base for having missed the base, and when manager Casey Stengel emerged from the dugout to dispute the ruling, he was urged not to argue too much by first-base coach Cookie Lavagetto because, Lavagetto told Stengel, "he missed second base, too."