Rookie Plummer's 1st homer huge for Mets

May 30th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Perhaps no Met has logged more road miles this year than . Since the end of Spring Training, Plummer has spent multiple stints on the Mets’ taxi squad, flying with the team to various locales in case of a need. He’s gone to Washington and Philadelphia without cracking the active roster, spending nearly as much time on team charters as he has in dugouts. The outfielder recently traveled from Scranton to Queens to Buffalo, going five days between game action as he crisscrossed the Northeast.

Twice, the Mets have activated Plummer -- once in mid-April and again on Friday, as insurance for injured teammate Brandon Nimmo. The difficulties of that sort of schedule are obvious. So it was doubly impressive when Plummer led off the ninth inning Saturday with a first-pitch, game-tying homer to Citi Field’s second deck, allowing Eduardo Escobar to follow with a walk-off double in the 10th inning of a 5-4 win over the Phillies.

“Oh, I’m so happy for him,” Escobar said. “It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy for Plummer, and hopefully now comes more.”

Until the ninth inning Saturday, Plummer’s claim to fame at Citi Field was his “Super Mario Brothers” walkup music, which a team employee chose for him based on his last name -- a homophone of “plumber” -- matching Mario and Luigi’s purported profession. Fans took to the tune, so Plummer kept it, listening as it played before his at-bat in the ninth.

By that point, the Mets had already endured a stressful game, which included a 34-pitch inning for Chris Bassitt in the third, a go-ahead, three-run homer by Nick Castellanos off Adam Ottavino in the eighth, and Plummer’s own defensive misplay in left field. Plummer erased all of it with a 389-foot homer to the second deck in right, watching it for a moment to make sure it stayed fair.

“It was a good memory, a good win,” he said.

From there, the rest of the victory seemed formulaic for a Mets team that has routinely strung together late rallies and comebacks. After Edwin Díaz stranded an automatic runner in scoring position in the top of the 10th, the Phillies walked Pete Alonso for the third time in the game -- and the second time intentionally -- to get to Escobar. On this occasion, Escobar made them pay, lacing a double to right to complete the Mets’ third walk-off victory.

“It’s unbelievable because I had three times today walking Alonso and facing me,” Escobar said. “But I say in baseball, give me the opportunity all the time. One swing changes everything. One swing, it makes my day, and the team wins.”

For Escobar, a veteran of a dozen big league seasons, this was but one of many career highlights. For Plummer, a 25-year-old Minor League free agent who signed with the Mets in November, it was the first. Plummer became the 14th Mets player to hit a homer for his first career hit, and the first since starter-turned-pitching-coach Jeremy Hefner exactly 10 years prior. A clubhouse employee found the fan who caught the ball and traded them a signed bat for it, so that Plummer could keep his well-earned souvenir. He intends to give it to his parents.

“Pretty special in a lot of ways,” manager Buck Showalter said.

A former first-round Draft pick of the Cardinals, Plummer struggled to distinguish himself in the St. Louis farm system before posting strong numbers in the upper Minors last summer. Because Plummer finished that season with more than six years of Minor League service time, he earned the right to become a free agent. Multiple offers followed, including from the Mets, who valued him as outfield depth behind Nimmo, Starling Marte and Mark Canha.

So began Plummer’s journey around the country, with stops in Florida, the mid-Atlantic, upstate New York and beyond. At some point, Plummer figured, his opportunity would arrive. That it happened in another dramatic Mets victory seemed apt, considering the varied cast of characters that have helped this club jump out to the largest division lead in baseball.

“I knew coming over here after signing in free agency that this was going to be a winning ballclub,” Plummer said. “It’s really been great. For them to go out and seek me in the free agency market was a big compliment for myself, especially coming off my tenure with the Cardinals. Just to come over here and help the team win, you can’t ask for much more.”