Tuesday, August 17, 2010
#684) KRIS BENSON
Kris Benson was traded along with Jeff Keppinger to the New York Mets from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Ty Wigginton, Jose Bautista, and Matt Peterson on July 30, 2004. Also included in the three team trade was Justin Huber leaving New York to the Kansas City Royals. "It's kind of a relief to just to get it over with. "The way things worked out couldn't be any better," said Benson. "I think my transition is easier because this is a team that I wanted to be on. The Mets were the most interested in getting me, and that meant a lot." The club sent a private plane to Milwaukee (where the Pirates were playing) to bring Kris to Atlanta and join the team there.
He made his Mets debut the very next day on July 31, 2004. A rocky start facing the Eastern Division leading Braves that resulted in a 8-0 loss. The loss moved New York back to eight games behind in the standings. "They definitely had my number," Benson said. "I didn't pitch my game. It was awkward out there. That's the first time that's happened to me this season, where I didn't feel all that comfortable." Kris later threw one of only two complete game shutouts the Mets would have during the 2004 season. Benson's gem coming against that same Atlanta team at Shea Stadium on September 14th. He struck out seven Braves and gave up only four hits during the 7-0 win. New York finished the year in fourth place a full 25 games behind Atlanta. Kris ended with a record of 4-4 and a 4.50 ERA.
The team signed the free agent right-hander to a three-year contract in November of 2004. Both he and his outspoken wife, Anna Benson had expressed a desire to remain in New York during the season. "I believe that I have a lot to offer in terms of altering people's views on how to treat other people," Anna was quoted. "I figured if I gain some type of celebrity status, people might listen to me more." She did get noticed as FHM Magazine proclaimed her "Baseball's Hottest Wife" in 2004, and an appearance on the Howard Stern Show generated even more interest.
The newly signed pitcher was mentioned in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings as New York was looking for payroll flexibility. When Kris Benson was asked to play the role of Santa Claus during the Mets Annual Christmas Party for local school children it was Anna who stole the show with her Mrs. Claus outfit. "I've always said I wanted to be here," Kris said through his fake beard. "I signed here because I want to be here. We said all along we want to be here."
A strained pectoral muscle landed Benson on the disabled list for the first month of the 2005 season. He would return to the rotation and make 28 starts for New York. Posting a 10-8 record and 4.13 ERA, while leading the team in home runs allowed with 24.
Kris was traded from the New York Mets to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for John Maine and Jorge Julio on January 21, 2006. General manager, Omar Minaya contended that Anna and her comments about the team were not a factor in the decision. The Bensons did not agree. "New York is just a world of it's own. I knew that coming in, but you learn that a little more when you get put in the spotlight like that in a negative way," Kris said. "It was a little frustrating at the time because people kind of believe what they read. For her it's been a little tough, because they kind of portray her in a negative light." Insisting that through it all she had a great relationship with the Mets' front office and PR department, Anna said, "In New York I manipulated the media, and I had my fun. They were very irritating at times, and I irritated them back."
Kris and Anna formed "Benson's Batallion" in October 2001. A nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to fighting terror and supporting city and state police and fire departments.
Kris Benson signed his card in the set for my friend, Greg when the Reno Aces visited the Tacoma Rainiers at Cheney Stadium on August 2, 2010.