Tuesday, January 12, 2010
#200) MIKE VAIL
Mike Vail was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Jack Heidemann to the New York Mets in exchange for Ted Martinez on December 11, 1974. After starting the season tearing up pitching in the International League (He would be named IL Player of the Year) the Mets brought Vail to New York and he made his major league debut on August 18, 1975. He got a hit in his first career at-bat and continued to establish a 23 game hitting streak. It was then a Mets team record and a major league record for a rookie. "I can see!" Vail explained to Sports Illustrated, "They told me it was a lot easier to hit in the majors because of the great lighting. But I never dreamed that you could see this well. You can see the spin on the curveball and everything."
Vail hit a home run off Pittsburgh Pirates, John Candelaria, in his first at-bat at Shea Stadium. He finished the season with a .302 batting average and appeared to be on his way to becoming the future everyday left-fielder for the Mets. During the winter following his rookie season Mike broke his foot while playing basketball. It forced him to miss the start of the 1976 season and hampered his performance the whole year. Vail was selected off waivers during spring training of 1978 and ultimately had the Mets sell his contract to the Cleveland Indians on March 26th.
Mike Vail signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on November 25, 2008.