Tuesday, January 24, 2012
#612) DARREN BRAGG
Darren Bragg joined the New York Mets when he was signed as a free agent on January 9, 2001. The left-handed hitting outfielder was brought in on a minor-league contract. He suffered a hamstring injury during spring training camp that cost three weeks of playing time. It was decided best to assign Darren to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides to begin the 2001 season.
The major-league veteran had a clause in his contract allowing him to ask for his release if not on the big-league roster before May 1st. "I'm fine," Bragg responded on April 30th when asked if he was leaving the Tides. "I'm not going anywhere." The Mets rewarded both his patience and performance by promoting him to the Mets on May 15th. In 32 games for Norfolk, he had four home runs, seven RBIs, five stolen bases, and was batting for a hefty .333 average.
Wearing uniform number 56 (in honor of his football hero Lawrence Taylor) the Watertown, Connecticut native made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on May 16, 2001. "I've always tried to go all out," said Darren. "I'll run into walls. I'll jump into stands if that's what it takes. Like LT. He didn't let much stop him. That's the way I want to play the game." He was inserted as the lead-off hitter facing the San Diego Padres and delivered a double in his first at-bat.
Bragg's best performance in a Mets uniform came on May 24th. He collected four hits and scored three runs in the New York 11-3 victory over the Florida Marlins at Shea. Darren's defense was also on display earlier with a diving catch in right field. "That was my best play of the night," beamed Bragg after the win. "I saved a run. That was big. If that was the only thing I did all night, I'd be happy.....The four hits makes it better." His batting average stood at a stellar .343 during those first nine games with New York.
The next nine games were a stark contrast to his initial success. Darren collected just three hits in his next 23 at-bats. Seeing his average on the season fall to .263. On May 31st while facing Philadelphia, Bragg misjudged a high pop fly in left field. It fell for a base hit and allowed the Phillies to rally for an eventual 6-3 victory at Shea. "That's the first time I'ver ever lost a ball and not caught it." Darren said. "Sometimes I lose it and recover in time. I wasn't able to recover on that one." With injured outfielder, Benny Agbayani set to return, the Mets chose to designate the outfielder for assignment on June 7th. "I thought I could help this club and I still do," Bragg said. "In this game nothing really catches you by surprise."
The New York Yankees claimed Darren on June 12th. He returned days later to Shea Stadium, but this time in the visitor's dugout during the Subway Series. "The Yankees were my team growing up," said Bragg. "I couldn't ask for a better scenario." He appeared as a pinch-hitter on June 16th and flew out to left field. Darren was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 30th. Bragg was resigned by the Mets and brought to major-league spring training camp in 2002. Unable to find a spot in the club's outfield he was given the chance to join the Atlanta Braves that April.
After his 11-year playing career ended, Bragg became a hitting coach for the Dayton Dragons in 2007. Serving later in the Cincinnati Reds organization as an outfield coordinator for the minor-leagues. He has continued teaching the game to younger players by establishing The Hit Club in Thomaston, Connecticut.
I created Darren Bragg's card in the set from an autographed index card purchased from Kyle's Sportcards on November 20, 2011.