Sunday, May 29, 2011
#656) JOSÉ REYES
The New York Mets signed a young shortstop from the Dominican Republic on August 16, 1999. Just 17-years of age he was sent to begin his professional career at Kingsport of the Appalachian League in 2000. José Reyes would go on to become one of the most exciting players in team history.
Reyes made his major-league debut with the Mets facing the Texas Rangers in Arlington on June 19, 2003. He singled in his first at-bat hitting left-handed and then doubled from the right side in his second at-bat. The team had explained to José that the promotion would only last until injured regular Rey Sanchez returned in a week. "As soon as I came here," Reyes recalled. "...the first day, I said, 'I don't want to go to the minor leagues. I'm going to do everything that I can. I want to stay here.' And I am still here."
It seemed there was little that the talented switch-hitter could not do on a baseball field. José led the National League in hits for the 2008 season. His blazing speed allowed him to produce the most triples in the league in 2005, 2006 and 2008. He also led the league in stolen bases during the 2005, 2006, and 2007 seasons. Reyes was rewarded with selections to the Major League All-Star Game in 2006, and 2007.
José became the only the ninth Met in team history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on June 21, 2006. During a loss to the Cincinnati Reds in New York he completed the task with a single to centerfield. "It was real great for me, but I wanted to win that game bad," said Reyes afterward. "It didn't go that way. Sometimes it happens."
The exuberant shortstop was paired with the talented David Wright to form a solid foundation to the Mets lineup. His aggressive play and ever present smile made Reyes a fan favorite at Shea Stadium. "You do need to take into account the baseball skill that a player possesses, but there's another element too— there's an entertainment component," explains Sandy Alderson. "What I've seen here is the connection he makes with the fans. It goes a little bit beyond his performance."
José was the host of a popular series of scoreboard messages at Shea called, "Learn Spanish with Professor Reyes." Each game would feature the infielder and a different word or phrase. This was a perfect match for the man who earned his unique chant of José-José-José (to the tune of Olé-Olé-Olé) from the Mets fans.
On September 10, 2008 he became the New York Mets all-time stolen base leader. Reyes stole two bases during the 13-10 victory over the Washington Nationals at Shea. The first gave him a total of 282 to better the existing mark set by Mookie Wilson. "I got on base three times and it's always good when I get on base," José said. "I make something happen."
José Reyes signed his card in the set for me before the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on May 25, 2011.