Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#384) TOM HERR

Tom Herr was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Mets in exchange for Nicko Riesgo and Rocky Elli on August 30, 1990. It was a strange destination for the player that had been so important to the St. Louis Cardinals teams in the past. Ones that had shared some bitter pennant battles with the Mets. "There is a brotherhood among ballplayers that transcends old rivalries," Herr explained.

Herr was inserted as the leadoff hitter in his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on September 1st. He was a big factor in the 5-4 New York victory over the San Francisco Giants. Slugging a home run and coming up with a defensive play to cut down the potential game-tying run at home plate in the eighth inning. "I was nervous," Tom said. "I didn't get much sleep last night. I was tired, but emotionally, I was at a high pitch." The win temporarily moved the Mets into first place in the National League Eastern Division. They would finish in second place behind the Pittsburgh Pirates at season's end. The second baseman ended 1990 with the one home run and a .250 batting average.

During the winter Herr and the Mets avoided arbitration when he signed a one-year contract. "We're happy to have Tommy back for next year," Mets' senior vice president Al Harazin commented. "He's a veteran leader who will provide our young infield with the type of leadership it needs." Youngster Gregg Jefferies was given the majority of the playing time at second base before shifting to third base. On May 19, 1991, a slumping Herr was told he would be resuming a reserve role upon the return of shortstop, Kevin Elster from shoulder surgery. The team was moving Jefferies back to second. A closed door meeting with General Manager Frank Cashen followed in an effort to clarify Tom's future with the team. Cashen came out of the meeting saying only that he felt Herr was having difficulty adjusting to the prospect of life as a bench player.

With Herr's batting average dipping to a lowly .194 the Mets made a move. Tom was released by the club on August 5, 1991.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania native served as an assistant coach for 12 seasons at his high school alma mater Hempfield High in Landisville. During that time he coached his two sons, Jordan and Aaron Herr in both baseball and football. Tom was named the first-ever manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League when the team was formed in 2004. "This is almost too good to be true, being able to manage in my hometown," Herr said upon the announcement. "I have been looking forward to the return of baseball to Lancaster for quite some time and this will be an extension of my involvement and love for this community. I know it will be a great experience for me and my family."

Tom Herr signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request sent to his home on February 2, 2009.

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