Saturday, June 19, 2010
#576) SHAWON DUNSTON
Shawon Dunston joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Craig Paquette on July 31, 1999. The veteran was brought over in one of several trading deadline deals to shore up the roster for making a post season run. Surprisingly Dunston, who had grown up in Brooklyn, New York, initially informed Mets' general manager Steve Phillips that he had chosen to retire upon learning of the trade. He reconsidered and made his debut with the club on August 2nd.
Dunston, who had been a very successful shortstop during his career, was asked to fill-in as the center fielder when regular Darryl Hamilton was injured. He responded well in his 42 game appearances to end the season. "He's risen to the occasion ever since we got him," Manager Bobby Valentine said, "He's been one of the unsung heroes over the last month and a half." Shawon hit for a .344 batting average and drove in 16 runs during the close of the 1999 regular season. Helping the Mets capture the Wild Card and defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division series. When New York fell to the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship series, Dunston only managed one hit in his seven at-bats. A memorable base hit to center field after six full-count foul balls.
"I got the opportunity to experience baseball here, in one of the best towns in the country," Shawon said with gratitude at the close of the NLCS. "I'm here and I was on a winner. We won the last game of the 1900s at Shea Stadium."
Dunston left the Mets when he returned as a free agent to the Cardinals on February 3, 2000.
Shawon Dunston signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request sent to his home on February 21, 2009.