Thursday, April 29, 2010
#394) RICK CERONE
Rick Cerone became a New York Met when he signed as a free agent on January 21, 1991. After a difficult season with the crosstown Yankees he had been placed on waivers. "I wanted to play for the Mets," the Cresskill, New Jersey native said. "I wanted to play for a contender, and I wanted to stay close to home." However, he was aware of his situation with the Mets already with catchers, Mackey Sasser and Charlie O'Brien on the roster. "I'm not a threat to them," Rick said. "I'm really not here to compete for a starting job. I can help these guys. I've learned a lot in the last three or four years. I've learned that you can help a team win even if you are on the bench."
Cerone would open the season by throwing out the first four runners attempting steals. (A feat not repeated until Henry Blanco accomplished it in 2010.) Not bad for a catcher that had broken the ring finer of his glove hand during a spring training game that March. Rick would also hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run in his first at-bat as a member of the New York Mets on April 9th. A 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium.
The veteran took exception to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Willie Fraser hitting Mets' batter, Howard Johnson with a fastball on August 21st. During the second game of a double-header at Shea Stadium the benches would empty led by Rick Cerone. The catcher would connect with a solid punch to Fraser before disappearing in a sea of players. "Had to do it," Cerone would explain. "Sometimes you just have to do it. We've just lost eleven games, we're finally winning one, and some guy throws at our best player? You can't let that happen."
Cerone would play in 90 games that season, but was granted free agency at the end of the year. He signed a contract with the Montreal Expos on February 12, 1992.
Rick helped establish the Teach Our Children Foundation in 1998. A charity to provide aid to children of the greater Newark, New Jersey area.
After his playing career he was a broadcaster and later became a minor-league owner founding the Newark Bears baseball team of the independent Atlantic League.
Rick Cerone signed his card in the set for my friend Jessie at the Long Island National Show at Hofstra University in Uniondale, New York on April 24, 2010.