Tuesday, January 17, 2012
#320) JOHN CHRISTENSEN
John Christensen was selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the free agent draft on June 8, 1981. The Fullerton, California native enjoyed a successful baseball career at Cal State University. A game that he loved to play, but could never sit to watch more than two innings of on television.
Christensen was promoted to New York as a late-season call-up after posting a strong .316 batting average and 15 home runs for the Triple-A Tidewater Tides. He made his major-league debut at Shea Stadium on September 13, 1984. The right-handed hitting outfielder came in as a pinch-hitter and late-inning replacement for Darryl Strawberry during the 14-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The talented Strawberry provided a definite challenge for John. The Mets were quite covered in right field with the young slugger. "I know he's got the job and he's going to be out there for a long time," said Christensen. "But if I let that affect me, it will only hurt me." John ended his brief first stint in the big-leagues with five game appearances over which he drove in three runs and registered a .273 batting average.
On April 1, 1985, Christensen became forever linked to Mets lore. Sports Illustrated Magazine featured a story by George Plimpton titled, "The Curious Case of Sid Finch". In the account a trio of young Mets prospects were asked to hit off a very unorthodox and secret pitcher. John was prominently featured as the first batter to face Sid Finch. "As for hitting the thing, frankly, I just don't think it's humanly possible." Christensen was supposed to have said. "You could send a blind man up there, and maybe he'd do better hitting at the sound of the thing." The story proved to be an elaborate April Fool's Day prank.
He did make the major-league roster for the start of the 1985 season. Only in an unfamiliar role of a reserve player. "Being the type of player John is, he's very competitive and wants to be in the game at all times," explained teammate, Gary Carter. "Being a platoon player is not his first choice." Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of the assignment, but Christensen struggled for consistency at the plate when his opportunities came. "I am happy to be here but my confidence is down." John said to the Los Angeles Times in June. "When I go to the plate, I want to do so well that I do just the opposite."
In 51 games he struggled to a .186 batting average with three home runs and 13 RBIs. Christensen was traded along with Calvin Shiraldi, Wes Gardner, and LaSchelle Tarver to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Bob Ojeda, John Mitchell, Tom McCarthy, and Chris Bayer on November 13, 1985.
John would play in the major leagues again with both the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins before retiring after the 1989 season.
I created John Christensen's set card from a signed index card purchased on November 20, 2011.