The Mets All-Time “2 Guys” Team: Left Field

Jimmy:

Okay, as I’ve said before, this is easy. Moises Alou urinated on his own hands to make them tougher. I repeat: he urinated on his own hands! Moises didn’t use batting gloves. No, he pee’d on them instead — with his own actual URINE.

I want to high-five a guy like that.

So I guess that wraps up our all-time . . .

Mike:

Again, stop right there. Like I keep saying, when we do our all-time disturbed team in 2017 Moises will get a very long look. For Oldfan’s sake that will also be a good chance to look at one of his nominees, Jimmy Piersall. For now though, let’s stay focused. In fact, today I don’t think we should waste any time debating it. Let’s just get to some Kevin Mitchell stories. There sure are many. I’ll begin with one that was mentioned by contributor Ken H. during our nomination process. In 2000 while playing in the Independent League Mitchell was arrested for punching an owner in the mouth. No wonder Jeff won’t bring back Old-Timers Day! This also explains the hardhat.

Jimmy:

That reminds me, did you see the latest Jeff Wilpon photoshop classic? It’s pretty great and comes to us from everyone’s favorite madcap genius of the Metsblogosphere, Randy Medina, over at The Apple.

Back to Kevin Mitchell, sure, I realize he was a gang-banger and a roughneck. Pretty badass dude. I’ll never forget the sight of him at SS, or what he did in that Game Six at-bat when everything — the entire season, and it’s lasting legacy — was on the line. He came through.

Mike:

When talking about Mitchell it is worth remembering that the Mets were in a hurry to get rid of him as they were terrified about having him near Gooden and Strawberry. The guy they brought back, Kevin McReynolds, couldn’t have been more of a polar opposite from Mitchell, he was the bizarro Kevin. Really nice player too, but something always seemed missing. That was probably unfair to McReynolds as the crazy Mitchell might have been hard to keep around for too long. He sure was entertaining, though, the short time that he was a Met.

Jimmy:

Yeah, we could tell Mitchell stories all day. However, dude, he only played 40 games in LF for the Mets. And honestly, his is not the brand of toughness I most admire. (Yes, I speak for pussycats everywhere.) When I look at left fielders in Mets history, it’s closer to “F Troop” than “The Dirty Dozen.” Frank Thomas is 9th with 253 games. But he broke a sacred baseball rule — he hit teammate Richie Allen with a bat. A ballplayer doesn’t do that, ever. This was after Allen stood up to Thomas for making bullying, racist remarks to Johnny Briggs. So Frank’s not our tough guy, either.

But I’ve got a name for you: Steve Henderson.

Yeah, the Seaver trade, that was the yoke he carried through four seasons with the Mets — his first four years in major-league baseball. Henderson lists fourth in games behind Cleon Jones, Kevin McReynolds, and George Foster. He usually batted in the middle of the order, 3rd or cleanup. He wasn’t terrible on teams that were truly, desperately terrible.

  • Tied for club lead in home runs with 12 in 1977.
  • Led in runs scored with 83 in 1978.
  • Tied or led team in triples in ’78 and ’80.
  • Led Mets in RBIs with 65 in 1977.
  • Lets Mets in BA with .290 in 1980.

And no one remembers the guy. It’s like he never existed, a phantom character in some lost “Twilight Zone” episode. Steve Henderson? No one remembers anything he did. Ever. There are no great Steve Henderson stories as far as I know. Except there he is on the cover the team’s 1980 Official Program.

Yeah, that guy. The one from the Seaver trade. Grrrr. No easy cross to bear, and he did it with dignity and quiet grace. A lot of us fans blacked out after the Seaver trade, our long Vegas weekend, the Henderson Years — when “The Magic Wasn’t Back” — it was all something of a blur, a blot.

Mike:

You know, I like it. But the truth is, there is a story.

There have been so many big moments in Mets history. But there is a night that I have heard many Mets fans of a certain age (say, early 40′s) talk about in hushed tones. That was the night that “Hendu Can Do.”

On June 14, 1980, in the middle of the Mets first period of dark ages, (if you are wondering when the second period was, just open your blinds and look outside) the Mets hosted the Giants for Fireworks night.

Remember, at this time Shea almost never had anybody in it, but on this night the park was somewhat crowded because of the promotion. And although the Giants led 6-3 in the ninth, no one left the park because of the upcoming show.

Well, the show came early.

The Mets rallied for four in the ninth for an improbable 7-6 win capped by a Steve Henderson walk off three-run home run. And in a forgettable year, within a forgettable era, the Mets had one signature positive moment.

So for all you 40 somethings out there, we give you our “2 Guys” Team left fielder, Steve Henderson. So tough we all forgot about Tom Seaver (for one night).

Well, with Hendu named we have a full outfield now, in fact, a full team of position players. But Jimmy, if the saying is, “You never have enough pitching,” we still have work to do. We don’t have any yet.

I’ll get us started. Doug Sisk, perhaps?

Or should I keep thinking?

Jimmy:

Pitchers, hey, you’ve got to have a mean streak to be an effective pitcher. We’ve got some tough choices ahead. There’s Mike Hampton, John Franco, Randy Myers, Al Leiter, Jerry Koosman, Billy Wagner — and those are just some of the lefties. Sisk belongs on the All-Gelding Team, but that’s for another time. But I have to tell you something up front: I’ve never liked John Franco.

 

 

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9 comments

  1. IB says:

    Poor Hendu had an impossible task. He must have prayed Pat Zachry would win a Cy Young and Doug Flynn, a Gold Glove just to take some pressure off.

    But, looking at his stat sheet, what I have difficulty wrapping my brain around is that he’s 60. It can’t be true.

    But, back to LF. my vote will always be Cleon Jones

    • Cleon was my first favorite Met, and I’m still furious over the humiliation the Mets put him through over the van incident at Spring Training. Hey, people — that’s what Spring Training is for!

      The fact is, this “2 Guys” team is simply an editorial ruse, a device, an excuse for talking about a bunch of old players without calling it pure nostalgia. We don’t really want this blog to be 2 old guys talking about the waaaaaay back, but at the same time, it’s in our blood and in our bones and something a lot of younger fans weren’t around to enjoy.

      So, yeah, Cleon. Love him.

    • Lloyd says:

      I was at the Steve Henderson walk-off game. They were actually trailing 6-2 entering the bottom of the 9th. Pete Falcone put them in a hole and John Stearns struck out with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the 8th. The rally started with one our and then with 2 outs and 2 on, Mazilli got a single to drive in one run and then Claudell Washington got his first Mets hit to drive in the second to make it 6-4 before Hendu hit is first homer of the year to right center for the improbable win. He was carried off on his teammate’s shoulders and called back onto the field 10 minutes or so later in his tee shirt.

      • Thanks for finding us, Lloyd. We appreciate the comment. BTW, if you did that without Retrosheet, you have an impressive memory.

        • Lloyd says:

          Yes I have a mind like a steel trap for things like this. I was also at Shea for Game 6 in ’86 and several other memorable Mets games (e.g. watching LoDuca tag out 2 Dodgers at home in one play in Game 1 of the 2006 Division Series), but somehow that Steve Henderson home run still gives me goosebumps!

  2. DD says:

    So Henderson bore his cross with dignity and quite grace.

    I thought youse were looking for LOUD grace. Or I am confused, that could be it.

    • Michael Geus says:

      We live in a complicated world. We are looking for toughness. I think Henderson performed well enough to indicate he was tough. Pat Zachary seemed to crumble under the same pressure.

      Personally I wanted Hunt too, and I never considered him demonstrative.

      Hazy, a little, just like me and Jimmy.

    • Yes, okay, that’s bad writing on my part. There’s not a lot of grace that isn’t quiet, or else it’s not grace.

      Writing this series has been interesting in that we’ve had to think about “toughness” in general, and what it means, and how one might show it. From where we sit, it’s pretty hard to tell. I’m sure there were fair pitchers who took the mound, day after day, season after season, with ridiculous arm pain. No complaints, no big show of grit, just quiet perserverance. That’s toughness, but we’d probably miss it. Like Mike says, it gets hazy in here. Better open the windows.

  3. Ken H. says:

    I’m glad to see Steve Henderson get this award. From the first memories I have as a Mets fan, Henderson filled the void as my favorite Met during the years that my primary favorite childhood Met (Dave Kingman) spent tearing the cover off the ball on the north side of Chicago.

    Henderson had an easy fan in me since I didn’t have enough of a frame of reference of the greatness of the guy he was traded for…at least prior to his one-year Mets encore in 1983. By that time, Seaver was still good, but he wasn’t quite the phenom Met fans enjoyed from ’67-’77.

    The 6/14/80 game served as a reminder of how Henderson was always the guy I wanted up in the late innings with the game on the line…and for good reason. In that same year, he also had a game-tying 3-run HR in the 7th inning of an eventual 5-4 win over the Astros on August 1 and another game-winning 3-run HR in the bottom of the 9th on September 14 to give the Mets a 10-7 win over the Cubs. Henderson hit .400 in the 9th inning that year.

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