Thursday, September 3, 2015

#592) RYAN McGUIRE

Ryan McGuire joined the New York Mets organization when he signed a contract on December 13, 1999. The first baseman-outfielder came over from the Montreal Expos as a six-year minor league free agent during the Winter Meetings. Ryan was given an invitation to major league camp during spring training but was sent to the minor league side on March 19, 2000.

McGuire began the season with the Norfolk Tides of the International League. During a group of transactions on June 2nd, the Mets purchased Ryan's contract from the Tides and brought him to New York. He was replacing outfielder Jon Nunnally who was designated for assignment.

Ryan made his lone appearance for the New York Mets on June 4th. He was the starting right fielder facing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Shea Stadium. McGuire drew a walk in his first at-bat in the second inning, but would ground out in his next two trips to the plate. He was replaced by Melvin Mora in the 9th inning of the lop-sided 15-5 loss to the Rays.

McGuire was designated for assignment the next day and after clearing waivers was returned to Norfolk on June 7th. He finished the Triple-A season with a .298 batting average, 10 home runs and 62 RBIs. Ryan signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent on November 3, 2000.

"I was hoping that I would have at least gotten called up in September, but sometimes it's tough with teams like the Mets and the Yankees, where they have unlimited financial resources." McGuire reflected in 2002. "They don't really need to call up guys from their Triple-A teams. If they feel like they need somebody, they'll just go and get it from somebody else's big-league team and pay the money for him."

"There are a lot of guys who have played for 15 years and never had the opportunity to be in the postseason or the World Series. I was sitting there like, 'Oh man.' I felt like I had a pretty good year and a lot of confidence. I felt like, Maybe I could do something for them.'"

Ryan finished his major league playing career in 2002. He became the marketing director at Sfx Sports/Wasserman Media Group in 2004. Shifting his focus to property and financial management in 2007. He remains close to the game he loves as a baseball coach for the ROX Baseball Club in Irving, California.

Ryan McGuire signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his office address on January 18, 2012.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#225) KEN HENDERSON

Ken Henderson joined the New York Mets when he was traded along with Willie Montanez and Tom Grieve from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Jon Matlack and John Milner on December 8, 1977. A trade during the Baseball Winter Meetings held in Hawaii that year. The entire transaction began with a chance encounter between Mets manager Joe Torre and Rangers owner Brad Corbett over the availability of Milner. The deal was actually part of a larger one also involving the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates that totaled 11 players. John Milner would end up moving to the Pirates that day.

Ken made his New York Mets debut on April 7, 1978 on Opening Day at Shea Stadium. The team would defeat the Montreal Expos 3-1 behind Jerry Koosman's complete game effort. The offense came from back to back doubles from the former Rangers, Montanez and Henderson as New York scored twice in the second inning of the game.

Following a Mets 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs the club was 4-1 to begin the year and sitting atop the National League East. Despite the great start only 3,751 fans at Shea were there to witness Ken Henderson's first home run as a Met. A solo shot off of Paul Reuschel in the 8th inning. "I'm encouraged with the way we are playing," Ken said following the game. "When I was traded here. I wanted to play every day. Otherwise I'd just as soon have stayed in Texas as the fourth outfielder for a contender. But from what I've seem this is not a second division team like everyone says."

On April 12th, during the seventh game of the young season a single play changed the season for the Mets new outfielder. "I was there such a short time, however a catch I made on a Dave Kingman drive to the wall in right field stands out to me." Henderson remembers years later. "Unfortunately, I hit my left foot and injured my toe when I hit the wall. I had to wear a cast the rest of the year to play." Ken was removed from the game and the Mets lost 4-2 to the Cubs.

A few days later Henderson was placed on the disabled list where he remained until May 19th. Once he was activated the Mets traded Ken to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Dale Murray. Ken was asked in 2015, if it was tough for him to deal with the bad luck that limited his playing time while with the Mets. "Absolutely," Henderson responded. "I played the game hard, and I took chances, but it was the only way I could play."

Henderson ended his 16-year major league career in 1980. He returned to the San Francisco Giants organization in March 2010 as a member of their marketing department. Ken was given a World Series ring when the team won the fall classic that year. "I could not get my World Series ring as a player, which is my biggest disappointment." Henderson said in 2011. "But I now have one I can put alongside my dad's." Ken's father had been a scout for several major league teams and earned his ring in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers.

Ken Henderson signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 29, 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2015

#402) TERRY McDANIEL

Terry McDaniel joined the New York Mets when he was selected in the sixth round of the free agent draft on January 14, 1886. The outfielder was drafted out of the University of Houston following a phenomenal career at Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Terry was a dominant pitcher and quarterback who led his varsity football team to their first playoffs in sixty years. His baseball ability was so great that in 1985 the high school created a varsity baseball program just so McDaniel could play. "Terrence made other football/baseball players around him better and always gave the team credit when literally he would win the game by himself." recalls local fan Eric.

A 19-year-old McDaniel began his professional baseball career with the Kingsport Mets in 1986. The fleet-footed outfielder stole 43 bases during the 1989 season for Single-A St. Lucie.

McDaniel was recalled from Triple-A Tidewater and made his major-league debut as a New York Met on August 30, 1991 in Cincinnati. He entered as a pinch-hitter and remained to finish the game in centerfield. Terry became the first player in club history to wear the uniform number zero. It was the next day facing the Reds' pitcher Ted Power that he would hit a double for his first big-league hit.

Terry would play in a total of 23 games for the Mets to close the 1991 campaign. Finishing with six hits in 29 at-bats, two RBIs and two stolen bases. McDaniel recalls his favorite memory of Shea Stadium as simply, "The fans." He joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization when they claimed him off waivers on November 19, 1991.

After his baseball career Terry returned to his hometown Kansas City and has been working with the govenrment there.

Terry McDaniel signed his card from the set through an autograph request sent to his home on March 19, 2015.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#589) JOE McEWING

Joe McEwing came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Jesse Orosco on March 18, 2000. The versatile utility player was brought in with just five days remaining before the Mets completed spring training and headed to Japan for a special opening to the 2000 season. That timing was too short and forced Joe to begin his Mets career with the Triple-A club in Norfolk. "At first, I was hurt," McEwing said about the trade. "I'd be lying it I said it wasn't tough. It took me a good week to get back on focus. You understand the business side of the game. They needed a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. It's a very humbling game."

"Super Joe" was the nickname that McEwing had earned in St. Louis during his 1999 rookie season. The 5-foot-11, 170 -pounder, established that he had the ability to play each of the infield and outfield positions at the major league level. That was secondary to the hustle he brought to every opportunity to help the team. Joe became an extremely popular player in New York after joining the Mets later in the 2000 season. He would continue to play the role of super-sub until his release from the club on March 17, 2005.

"You hate to pinpoint one," Joe said when asked his favorite memory from his days with the Mets. "Obviously fulfilling your childhood dreams, and that's competing in the World Series, and being able to play the Yankees. You figure the whole world is focused on one city. For that to happen, it's pretty special. And the biggest thing for me is being part of the relief efforts after 9/11. That holds the biggest impact, because it had nothing to do with the game. It was as a ballclub contributing to the city of New York and the country. That really sticks out and means a lot to me as an individual. To be able to take the pressures and everything off a lot of individuals for a couple of hours a night, to give peace and happiness and something positive to cheer for."

The reserve player contributed in a even further lasting way to Mets history. He served as the mentor to future All-Star David Wright during his rookie season. "David was easy," McEwing said. "David is a special kid and special person and a good friend. Every rookie that comes up, you just try to guide them the right way to go about things. I wasn't hard to guide David the right way. He has outstanding core values." Wright is proud to be part of McEwing's Mets legacy. "Real proud," David told MLB.com in 2005. "If people saw me play and thought of Joe. I'd like him to be remembered in New York. I want his influence to mold my character so I can be like him."

Joe returned during the 2008 season to pay his respects to Shea Stadium. "I needed to," explained McEwing about needing to see the park one last time. "It's such a historic place—in my heart anyway. I needed to see it before they knocked it down. I brought my son back to let him know that's where daddy played and it's not going to be here any longer."

Joe McEwing signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to the Winston-Salem Dash team on July 13, 2009.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#42) BILLY COWAN

Billy Cowan was traded to the New York Mets from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for George Altman on January 15, 1965. Billy was coming off a fine rookie season in Chicago during which he had hit 19 home runs, and drove in 50 runs with a .241 batting average over 139 games. "Cowan adds speed, good defense, power and youth to the outfield," said Assistant to the Mets President Bing Devine. "This gives us another center fielder who has played regularly in the big leagues," legendary Manager Casey Stengel explained. "He can run and catch the ball. He has to cut down on the strikeouts and he can become a good hitter too."

Cowan made his debut with the New York Mets on Opening Day, April 12, 1965. The center fielder and leadoff hitter struck out three of his four at-bats facing Don Drysdale during the 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. It was June the 21st before Billy would hit his first home run as a Met. The blast proved to be the game-winner as the Mets defeated Claude Osteen, who had taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning by a 1-0 score.

The results were not what the club had hoped for when signing Cowan. The Mets began giving time in center field to both Cleon Jones and Johnny Lewis which affected Billy's playing time. When the team found themselves in need of a roster spot to return Ron Hunt from the disabled list, they sold Cowan's contract to Triple-A Buffalo on August 5th. The Mets later traded Billy to the Atlanta Braves for two players to be named later on August 10th.

Cowan ended his one year with the Mets hitting three home runs, 9 RBIs, a .179 batting average and striking out 45 times against just four walks. "I enjoyed being with the Mets," Billy said in a July 1969 interview.  "When I first came to the Mets they said I was gonna play center field regularly. I don't think I ever played a full two-week stretch."

Billy retired from baseball in 1972. He formed his own real estate investment firm, Bill Cowan Associates in Palos Verdes Estates, California. Spending most of his spare time playing golf and racket ball while raising three children and seven grandchildren with his wife, Allene.

He was inducted into the East High School Hall of Fame in his hometown of Bakersfield, California in 2012. "I have been inducted into a couple of others, but I don't think any of those mean any more to me than this one does." Cowan offered. "It is really a privilege.

Billy Cowan signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on October 6, 2008.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#229) TOM GRIEVE

Tom Grieve came to the New York Mets in a rare four team trade on December 8, 1977. The Texas Rangers sent Grieve and a player to be named later to the Mets. The Atlanta Braves shipped Willie Montanez to the Mets. Texas then sent Tommy Boggs, Adrian Devine and Eddie Milner to the Braves and Bert Blyleven to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates sent Nelson Norman and Al Oliver to the Rangers. The Mets moved John Milner to the Pirates and Jon Matlack to the Rangers. Texas would send Ken Henderson as the player to be named later to New York on March 15, 1978 to eventually complete the complicated transaction.

Grieve was an accomplished veteran outfielder who had hit 20 home runs during the 1976 season with the Rangers. Two years later, during his lone season with the Mets he would only start 21 games for New York. Tom's debut with the team came on April 9, 1978 at Shea Stadium. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth-inning of a 5-0 loss to the Montreal Expos. Grieve's first home run with the club came on April 14th when the team visited Montreal. His ninth inning blast tied the game that was later won by the Mets 3-2 in 10 innings. "Naturally I want to be a starting player." Grieve said after the game. "I will stay in the best of shape and show them I can play regularly."

Tom was not able to establish himself as an everyday part of the lineup as he had hoped. He finished the 1978 season with 54 appearances, two home runs, 8 RBIs, and a .208 batting average. It was a year that also saw the Mets flounder to a miserable 66-96 record. The last victory led by Grieve in a guest manager role. Mets manager Joe Torre had a tradition of selecting a veteran from the current roster to take over managerial duties on the final game of each season. "He said you can do anything you want except change pitchers," Tom recalled to MLB.com in 2011. "I said, 'Can I put on the suicide squeeze?' He said, 'Sure". Grieve got the chance in the fifth inning. The Mets led 1-0 and had one out, a runner on third and pitcher Kevin Kobel at the plate. Tom called for the squeeze. "He fouled off the pitch," Grieve said. Kobel then grounded out, but the runner later scored on a hit and the Mets won the game 5-3 over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. With his managerial experience Grieve became part of a special tradition that Torre kept up all the way through his 29-year coaching career. "That was a great thing that he let players do," said Grieve. "I'll never forget it."

Grieve was traded along with minor league pitcher, Kim Seaman to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Pete Falcone on December 5, 1978. He played one year with the Cardinals and retired as a player after the 1979 season. Tom became the General Manager and later broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. He was inducted into the Ranger's Hall of Fame on July 24, 2010.

Tom Grieve signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 31, 2009.

Monday, August 18, 2014

#370) TOM O'MALLEY

Tom O'Malley joined the New York Mets organization when he was traded from the Montreal Expos along with Mark Bailey in exchange for Steve Frey on March 28, 1989. O'Malley was a former major league veteran who had been working to return to the major leagues the last few seasons. "I know I can play in the big leagues," The Triple-A Tidewater Tides third baseman said in an interview in May 1989. "It's tough not to have the chance. About the only thing you can do down here is to try to keep from pulling an attitude muscle." O'Malley was looking at a tall order to make the New York team with Howard Johnson as the Mets starting third baseman. "I am just down here trying to put up some good numbers again. I hope they notice."

O'Malley was promoted to the Mets when rosters expanded, and made his debut with the club at Shea Stadium on September 7, 1989. Tom came in as a pinch-hitter during the 13-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. He would appear in a total of nine games for the team that finished in second place of the National League Eastern Division. O'Malley did deliver six hits in 11 at-bats for a .545 batting average over that handful of games.

The left handed hitter made the big league club out of spring training to be used as a pinch hitter and reserve corner infielder. O'Malley was struggling with just two hits during his first 22 at-bats when what is possibly his greatest Mets moment came on June 5, 1990. He entered the 5-5 tie game against the Montreal Expos at Shea in the 10th inning. His first at-bat that day came in the bottom of the 11th inning. "My birthday is June 6th," remembered Mets manager Buddy Harrelson. "Tom had been struggling for us as a pinch-hitter, and I said that I would give all my presents back the next day if Tom O'Malley would just hit a home run." When the ball sailed over the head of David Martinez falling over the 410 foot marker of the centerfield fence, Tom had delivered the game winner. "It was a birthday wish that came true and I thought that was the catalyst that got us going in June." Harrelson concluded. "It was unexplainable," O'Malley said after the game. "It's something I didn't expect. People might not have been aware that I was on the team. Maybe this will be a start and people will recognize the Irish fellow."

Tom remained with the club as a part time player for the remainder of 1990. He appeared in a total of 82 games hitting three home runs, driving in 14 runs while posting a .223 batting average. At the end of the season the Mets sold his contract to the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League.

O'Malley played six years in Japan for both the Tigers and later Yakult Swallows. He was both the regular season and Japan Series MVP while leading Yakult to win the Japanese Series in 1995. After retiring from playing in 1996, Tom managed the independent Newark Bears from 1998 to 2001.

The Montoursville native became the coach of the local Loyalsock High School softball team in 2013. "It's been a lot of fun so far. They've played hard. They've had great attitudes." Coach O'Malley described his start with the Lady Lancers. "And you know they're doing the little things and we worked on the fundamentals."

Tom returned to Japan in January 2014. He became the hitting coach for the Hanshin Tigers.

Tom O'Malley signed his card in the set for Jamie Blye at the Williamsport Crosscutters 8th Annual Hot Stove Banquet in Williamsport, PA on January 20, 2013.