Monday, April 25, 2011
#284) GARY RAJSICH
Gary Rajsich came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Houston Astros in exchange for John Csefalvay on April 3, 1981. He was assigned to the Triple-A Tidewater Tides during his first season with the organization. Gary smacked a total of 24 home runs and hit for a .277 batting average. Rajsich even hit three home runs in a single game twice for the Tides in 1981. A strong enough performance to earn him a invitation to major-league camp for spring training the following year.
The left-handed hitter made the opening day roster, and appeared in his first major-league game wearing a Mets uniform on April 9, 1982. He came on as a pinch-hitter and grounded out to Chicago Cubs' pitcher Lee Smith during New York's 5-0 loss at Wrigley Field. The rookie right fielder hit his first big-league home run on May 18th. Rajsich made a diving catch of a line drive in the top half of the fifth-inning, and then deposited a drive over the right-field wall at Shea Stadium in the bottom of the inning. All leading to a 7-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
In 80 games during the 1982 campaign he would manage two home runs, with 12 RBIs, and a .259 batting average. Although in contention for a outfield spot the next year, he was optioned back to Tidewater on April 11, 1983. Gary remained with the Tides until rosters expanded in September. He was recalled and served to spell Keith Hernandez at first base for 10 games to close the season.
The Mets sold Rajsich's contract to the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5, 1984. He would appear with the Cards and San Francisco Giants before heading to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan for three seasons. Gary later joined his brother, former major-league pitcher, Dave Rajsich as a member of the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. That 1989 season was the subject of the book, "Forever Boys" which prominately features Rajsich and fellow former Met, Pat Zachary.
Gary became a successful baseball scout following his playing career. Joining the Boston Red Sox organization first as an amateur scout in 1990, and later as a major-league scout. He was responsible for Boston signing Jon Lester with the first pick of the 2002 draft. Rajsich moved to the Toronto Blue Jays scouting department in 2009.
Gary Rajsich signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on April 25, 2011.