Tuesday, October 26, 2010
#212) LENNY RANDLE
Lenny Randle was traded from the Texas Rangers to the New York Mets in exchange for Rick Auerbach on April 26, 1977. He came to the club under a dark cloud of uncertainty. Prior to a spring training game the usually mild-mannered Randle had punched his Texas manager, Frank Lucchesi breaking his cheekbone. Lenny was given a 30-day suspension during which he was shipped to New York.
The switch-hitter was anxious to put the incident behind him and continued to stay in shape while finishing his suspension. Randle made his Mets debut as a defensive replacement on April 30, 1997. The next day he got his first start for the team and responded with three hits, one a triple. Lenny drove in a run in the ninth inning and stole home to cap an 8-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. "I think they like my bat, my glove, my legs and the fact that I get my uniform dirty," said Randle. "I'd be perfect for a Tide commercial."
It was Lenny who was at the plate for the Mets when the lights went out at Shea Stadium during the famous New York City Blackout on July 13th.
The versatile infielder/outfielder went on to be the Mets most valuable player for the 1977 season. He set a club record with 33 stolen bases, and led the club with a .304 batting average. Randle bonded with the Mets fans and could be seen talking to them at Shea Stadium even during the game. He also valued his opportunity to have Willie Mays as a coach. "What I experienced in my friendship with Willie did form my serious attitude about life beyond the Big Leagues," Lenny recalled in his book "Compton to Beyond the Big Leagues."
Randle took the dismissal of Willie Mays at the close of the season quite hard. "Willie's treatment soured me toward the organization and I was interested in playing for the San Francisco Giants the following year," said Lenny. "My dissatisfaction with the Met organization was shared by most of the players and I referred to the front office as the "Plantation". Everyone was on sale on the New York docks, especially those so bold as to ask for a raise."
His play reflected the change in Randle's attitude. The 1978 season saw all his offensive numbers fall while his batting average dipped to a lowly .233. The Mets chose to release Lenny on March 29, 1979.
Following his time in the major-leagues, Randle played baseball professionally in Italy. Becoming the first American former major-leaguer to do so. Today he operates the Pro Baseball Academy in California. Providing quality instruction to young players, and organizing sport tours.
I created Lenny Randle's card in the set from an autographed index card (that he signed in pencil) which was given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.