Wednesday, January 25, 2012
#604) KEVIN APPIER
Kevin Appier was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on December 11, 2000. The reigning National League Champions were forced to fill the void of their exiting ace pitcher, Mike Hampton. The Championship Series MVP signed a record-setting contract with the Colorado Rockies. Appier was inked to a four-year deal with the Mets just days later. "New York is a very exciting city," Kevin said from the baseball winter meetings in Dallas. "You can't get a bigger stage than that. If we do great, that's only better. I'm glad to have the opportunity."
"Right from the beginning, we knew Kevin Appier would be right in the mix of pitchers we were trying to pursue," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "Obviously we had interest in the Hampton and (Mike) Mussina fronts, but those ran parallel with discussions with Kevin. We feel fortunate to get a pitcher of his caliber."
Appier's unorthodox delivery and pregame bullpen rants preceeded him. "It's extremely, extremely, extremely important to me to give everything," He explained. "So I'm crazy-intense out there. Being that way and being able to draw everything I have into my work, I think that's been a key in the success that I have had."
Kevin made his Mets debut on April 4, 2001 at Turner Field facing the Atlanta Braves. He went six strong innings in a wild game that the Braves won in the bottom of the ninth inning. "It's just two down, 160 to go." said Appier after the game.
The righthander got the distinction of pitching the home opener at Shea Stadium on April 9th. A sellout crowd of 53,640 were on hand to see the raising of the 2000 National League Championship banner. Behind seven innings from Appier, and Mike Piazza's two home runs, the Mets answered with a 9-4 victory over the Braves. "The crowd was amazing," Kevin said. "This was like my in-person introduction to New York and to get a win is very sweet."
Appier would pitch well enough the first half of the season, but suffer poor run support in many of his outings. In seven of his first 12 starts, the Mets scored three or fewer runs. Resulting in a 3-5 record. "I think I've got my rhythm back," Kevin said. "If I hit my spots and get action on my fastball, I can get the job done. That's been happening lately." Things would begin to turn around for the veteran in July. He finished the year going 7-2 in his last 17 starts, and saved his best game of the season for October 6th at Shea. Kevin threw eight shutout innings, while striking out a season-high 11 batters during the Mets 4-0 victory over the Montreal Expos. It would be his final start of the year, and his last as a New York Met.
Kevin finished 2001 with a 11-10 record, 172 strikeouts, and a 3.57 ERA. He was the team leader with 206.2 innings pitched, and 33 starts. The Mets traded Appier to the Anaheim Angels in exchange for slugger, Mo Vaughn on December 27, 2001. "To add a hitter like Mo is something we never envisioned," Mets GM Phillips said the day of the deal. "In typical years you don't have a chance to get a player of Mo's caliber."
Appier would pitch for the Angels during their 2002 World Series Championship. He retired from baseball in 2006, and spends time on his 450-acre working farm in Paola, Kansas. Kevin tends to black angus cattle, horses and crops there. The former ace enjoys keeping to himself and chooses not to own a cell phone. He feels that baseball is something in his past. "I'm a victim of a child's imagination," Appier said. "When I was a kid, that's what I thought about. I said, 'I wanted a ranch'. I never imagined camels, but that's my wife's thing. She really likes camels and I thought it would make a nice gift. I've been haunted by it ever since."
I created Kevin Appier's card in the set from an autographed index card purchased from Kyle's Sportscards on November 20, 2011.