Saturday, December 25, 2010


Ray Knight joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the Houston Astros in exchange for Gerald Young, Mitch Cook and Manny Lee on August 28, 1984. The veteran was added to provide a bit of fire power and protection for the corner infield positions. He turned out to do much more.

Knight played in 27 games to close his first season in New York. His batting average was a respectable .280, but only yielded one home run and six RBIs. In November, arthoscopic surgery was performed to repair his right shoulder. "I played first base most of my last two years with the Houston Astros, but when I went back to third my arm felt heavy," Ray explained. "This should clear things up." Unfortunately following spring training, bone chips were discovered in his right elbow and required a different surgery. Recovery forced him to the disabled list for the beginning of the 1985 season. He did not return until April 21st.

His first full season with the Mets was a challenging one. The right-handed hitting third baseman only appeared in 90 games and saw his batting average drop to a shocking .218 for the year. Knight became the target of boos from disappointed fans at Shea Stadium. "Don't let them affect you," was the advice his wife, Nancy Lopez the LPGA Hall of Fame golfer gave. Things were not made any better when reports surfaced about a failed trade of Knight to the Pittsburgh Pirates that winter.

All seemed to change the next spring. For 1986, the Mets established a platoon of Ray and newly-acquired, Howard Johnson at third base. Knight started strong and hit six home runs in the month of April alone. His health and confidence seemed to have returned. The infielder's firey leadership surfaced at Shea Stadium on May 27th. Tom Niedenfuer of the Los Angeles Dodgers surrendered a grand slam home run to George Foster. He then hit Knight in the elbow with the next pitch. Ray charged the mound and benches emptied. Knight was fined $300 for the incident. "It was an eventful week," Ray said. "You know as far as having a baby one day and getting into a fight the next day, I don't do either very often." The Knights had welcomed their second child on May 26th.

The Mets continued their domination of the National League that summer. Tempers flared again on July 23rd. This time in Cincinnati when Reds' pinch-runner Eric Davis slid into Knight at third base. Pushing and shoving began, and Ray punched Davis. A 16-minute bench-clearing melee followed which ended with a battered and bloodied Knight. "He looked me right in the eyes, and I felt threatened." Ray later recalled. "I had a real short fuse back then—and I unloaded on him. Eddie Milner charged over and I hit him, too. The next thing I knew, there were guys all over me."

New York won the National League Eastern Division by a 21-1/2 game margin. Ray Knight was given the N.L Comeback Player of the Year honors with a .298 batting average and 76 RBIs. The Mets defeated the Houston Astros in a remarkable playoff series, and set the stage for Knight's greatest moment. In Game Six of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox he scored the winning run on Mookie Wilson's legendary grounder through Bill Buckner. Then he came back in Game Seven and delivered a tie-breaking home run to earn the Most Valuable Player Award of the series. "As close as I came to my death in baseball, this is hard to believe," Ray said that night. "It's not even a dream come true because it was too farfetched to even dream about. I mean, I was buried the last two years. People ask me if I was ready to give up and I say, 'No,' but I definitely thought the Mets were ready to give up on me. This just shows what persistance and hard work can do."

The Mets elected not to resign Knight as a free agent for 1987. Making him the first player to join a different team the season following winning an MVP award. Ray signed with the Baltimore Orioles on February 12th. As such he did not participate in the World Series ring presentation at Shea Stadium the next season. "Those type of things hurt when you're not able to share in something you fought for," Knight was later quoted.

After his active career he has remained in major-league baseball. Ray became a broadcast announcer for ESPN. He then served as a coach with the Cincinnati Reds in 1993, and was promoted to the club's manager for the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Most recently, Knight has become a broadcaster for the Washington Nationals in 2007.

Ray chose not to attend the closing ceremonies at Shea Stadium in 2008. Electing to finish his season covering the Nationals. "It was, believe me, much more important to be at Shea than to be at my desk doing commentary for a last place ballclub, but my devotion and loyalty is a part of what I am," Knight explained.

Ray Knight signed his card in the set for my good friend, Jessie at the MAB Celebrity Services "Hot Corner Show" in Secaucus, New Jersey on November 13, 2010. Including his "1986 World Series MVP" inscription.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Dave Magadan was selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the free agent draft on June 6, 1983. The Tampa Bay, Florida native is the cousin and godson of Lou Pinella. He made his major-league debut as a late season callup on September 7, 1986. Delivering a pinch-hit single during the Mets 6-5 victory over the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium. New York clinched the National League Eastern Division championship on September 17th with a complete game victory from Dwight Gooden. Magadan received his first start at first base that day and produced three singles in the 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. In the ten games to close the 1986 season he batted for a .444 average. Dave was ineligible for the post season due to his late addition to the team's roster. A fact that made him part of a group of shorter term players whom the club decided not to present a World Series Championship ring. "It wasn't until like 10 years later," Dave said. "Randy Myers just made so much noise about it that they finally released the jeweler to make rings for like four or five of us that didn't receive them then, and (Myers) paid for them."

The fine hitting prospect found himself playing behind first baseman, Keith Hernandez and third baseman, Howard Johnson. So although he made the major-league roster it was spelling those two stars as needed, and in the role of a pinch-hitter. Dave did become the everyday first baseman after injuries limited Hernandez to only 75 games in 1989. The Mets decided to add Mike Marshall to the team the next season in an effort to provide more power at the position. After a hot start that included a 10-game hitting streak, Magadan found himself with the majority of the playing time in 1990. The result was his finest season with the Mets as he led the club with a .328 batting average that included six home runs, six triples, and 72 RBIs. The disgruntled Marshall had been traded away in July.

Now established as the New York first baseman he saw his production fall in 1991. A naging shoulder injury that came from diving for a baseball early in the season certainly did not help. The Mets as a whole found themselves in decline. "There's nothing that you can point to that is positive for this team right now," Dave said in July. "We're struggling in all phases of the game: offense, defense, pitching. Everybody's had a hand in it." The Mets would finish fifth in the division and Magadan saw his batting average drop to .258.

Future Hall of Famer, Eddie Murray was added for 1992, and the team shifted Howard Johnson to centerfield. These adjustments moved Dave to third base. The Mets then offered him a salary that was below the amount Magadan had earned the previous year. "I don't appreciate the request for a cut." Dave said at the time. "I didn't have a great year, but it wasn't bad enough that I deserved a cut." The two sides arrived at a compromise that had him signing a one-year contract avoiding the arbitration process. Magadan showed that he could effectively field the third base position, and raised his batting average to .283. The struggling Mets decided not to offer a contract at the conclusion of the year. Dave signed as a free agent with the expansion Florida Marlins on December 8, 1992.

After his playing career he has enjoyed success as a major-league hitting instructor. He was first named as the San Diego Padres roving instructor in 2002. Then elevated to the team's hitting coach from 2003-2006. He moved to the Boston Red Sox organization as their hitting coach in 2007, and was part of the World Series Championship that year.

The former Alabama All-American was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Dave claims that his recognition as a player comes from his days as a New York Met. "I loved being a part of those winning teams here," he said. "Playing with guys like that? There's not much that's more fun for a player."

Dave Magadan signed his card in the set for my friend, Jessie through the MAB Celebrity Services Show in Secaucus, New Jersey on November 13, 2010. Adding a deserved "'86 World Series Champs" to his autograph.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Chico Walker was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs by the New York Mets on May 7, 1992. "His versatility is a plus," said manager Jeff Torborg when he was added. "But most of all he gives us another outfielder." Important because injuries to Vince Coleman and Dave Gallagher left the Mets roster short an outfielder. The switch-hitting Chico proved to be a great addition to the club. Playing in 107 games and posting a team best .308 batting average.

Walker avoided arbitration, and was resigned by the Mets to a one-year contract for the 1993 season. His second year in New York did not prove to be as successful for Chico or the club in general. Facing the Astros he appeared as a pinch-hitter and was the final out of Darryl Kile's no-hitter against the team on September 8th in Houston, Texas. Twelve days later the Mets reached 100 losses for the season. "First of all, they'll tell me, 'I told you so,'" commented Walker. "Because coming in, I thought we had as good a chance of winning as anyone. A lot of my colleagues back home in Chicago told me no. With 100 losses, I'll take a lot of ribbing. We went from potentially one of the best teams in baseball to losing 100 games. Look at the Mets' roster opening day. How can this be?" Prior to the game on October 3rd, New York informed Chico that he was being given his release. Walker played in that final contest of the season and hit a two-run home run in Florida to end a rain shortened 9-2 Mets victory. With the heavy showers Marlins' right fielder Darrell Whitmore had no idea where Chico's ball was until it landed in the stands behind him. It would prove to be Walker's last at-bat in the major-leagues.

Chico Walker signed his card in the set for my good friend, Jessie at the MAB Celebrity Services "Hot Corner Show" in Secaucus, New Jersey on November 13, 2010.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


David Lamb joined the New York Mets organization when they claimed him off waivers from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on February 7, 2000. He began the season with Triple-A Norfolk, but had his contract purchased on July 3rd. Kurt Abbott had been placed on the disabled list with lower back inflammation and with Rey Ordonez healing a broken forearm the roster was short infielders. Once summoned, David made his Mets' debut on July 5th as a pinch-hitter facing the Marlins in Florida. Lamb was the starting shortstop on July 18th, and delivered his first New York hit during the Mets 11-7 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Playing three different infield postions in all, he made a total of seven appearances. David was optioned back to Norfolk on July 25th and replaced on the roster by pitcher, Grant Roberts. He finished the 2000 season with the Tides. The California native then chose to sign as a free agent with the Anaheim Angels on November 8, 2000.

After his playing career, which included additional major-league time with the Minnesota Twins, he has served as a professional hitting and fielding instructor at The Hitting Zone in Westlake Village, California.

David Lamb signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to The Hitting Zone address on December 16, 2010.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Rick White was traded along with Bubba Trammell by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the New York Mets in exchange for Paul Wilson and Jason Tyner on July 28, 2000. "I really didn't have much of a clue of what Rick White was all about," teammate Al Leiter said. "Then that first game against the Cardinals and he's throwing 93, 94, hitting his spots, I thought, 'Wow, that's good.'" The Mets wanted to add a reliever to complement the role of set-up man, Turk Wendell. Rick found immediate success and his personality a perfect fit with his new teammates. "We are a different breed, relievers are anyways," said White. "You're kind of nervous about that when you come to a new team and a totally different situation. But it seems like we are crazy in all the same way here."

Rick's work from the bullpen helped the Mets win the National League Wild Card berth. He finished the season with a 2-3 record, one save, and 3.81 ERA. White was then perfect in the Division Series facing the San Francisco Giants. In what he would call the "No. 1 special game of his career" the right-hander pitched the final two innings of Game Three of the series. A pair of scoreless frames at Shea Stadium (while striking out four batters) that gave him the 3-2 victory after Benny Agbayani's home run in the 13th-inning. "When he hit it, I almost didn't get out there to greet him," said Rick. "I'm glad I did because being a part of this team is the best thing that's ever happened to me." The Mets finished as the 2000 National League Champions after losing to the Yankees in the World Series.

The club chose to establish White as the set-up man for closer John Franco in 2001. As a result they traded Wendell and Dennis Cook to the Philadelphia Phillies. Although missing his friends, he enjoyed the new opportunity. "That's what I like about this, I'm into the competitiveness of the situation and the adrenaline rush," said Rick. "In Pittsburgh, it was like every game I came into, I was facing an important situation. I've missed that."

His season was hampered by injuries that landed him on the disabled list during two periods of the year. While his numbers ended up about the same as the previous season, it was decided to allow White to leave as a free agent and sign with the Colorado Rockies on January 10, 2002. The Mets were in a cost saving mode to free up money to sign free agent, Mo Vaughn.

After his professional baseball career, Rick accepted the pitching coach position at Wittenburg University in 2009. Returning to his hometown of Springfield, Ohio where he also hosts training camps for area youth. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, and the sport of hunting.

Rick White signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to Wittenburg University on December 10, 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Doug Flynn became a New York Met when he was traded from the Cincinnati Reds along with Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman in exchange for Tom Seaver on June 15, 1977. "There's pressure if you play in New York, period," Flynn said in 2010. "I don't care if you come in a Tom Seaver trade or anyone else's trade. Most people just talk about a lot of other stuff. There's pressure because you have so many people looking for angles on how to write things—I didn't have any trouble with the media, win or lose, I always tried to answer every question as best I could, but it was tough, especially with the Yankees winning all those years..." Doug indeed had a reputation of being accountable to the losses as well as excited in the victories.

A fine infielder, he was given the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for National League second basemen following the 1980 season. His sparkling defensive prowess was not always equalled with his bat. Flynn's lifetime batting average was .238, only two points higher than Bud Harrelson's career average. "Buddy and I used to laugh about that all the time," Doug remembers. "I used to tell Buddy. 'The difference though, is that you played for the '69 Mets.'"

Flynn did accomplish a record-setting offensive accomplishment on August 5, 1980. Collecting three triples in the Mets 11-5 loss to the Expos in Montreal that day. The eighth-place hitter in the lineup that had him leading off innings three times. He tripled in the third, fifth, and eighth innings and came around to score in each one. Doug finally grounded into a double play to end the game, but recalls the conversation with Expos catcher, Gary Carter. "I knew Gary well, and when I stepped into the box, he says, 'Hit another one, no one's ever hit four in a game. Hit it good'," Flynn said. "He wasn't telling me the pitches, but he was pulling for me. I know that." Doug is one of only 29 players to record three triples in a game, and the only Mets player to do so. He was given the National League Player of the Week Award in recognition of the feat.

Baseball is not the only talent that Doug showcased during his years in New York. He is a native of Lexington, Kentucky who grew up with an appreciation for country music. Flynn became a performer himself inspired by that, and played his music at a Manhattan club, called Cody's during the 1981 baseball strike. Appearing there three nights a week that summer.

Doug was traded along with Dan Boitano to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Jim Kern on December 11, 1981.

Following his playing career, he spent time working in the New York Mets minor-league system. Leaving that to head up the State of Kentucky's anti-drug program for 10 years, before venturing into the banking industry. Doug became the Correspondent Banking Officer for Central Bank in Lexington. Flynn was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010, "They took my thyroid out, and it did a little damage to my voicebox, but I am doing good," Doug said. "And I'm going on with my normal life, and there's a whole lot of worse things, and I'm blessed they caught it when they did." His singing voice should not be lost due to the surgery.

Bryan Station High School retired his uniform number in April 2009. "I'm very humbled," Flynn said. "I was blown away when I heard that mine is the first jersey to be retired in the history of this school."

Doug Flynn signed his card in the set for my friend, Bryan at the RedsFest Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 3, 2010.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Juan Samuel came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell and Tom Edens on June 18, 1989. The transaction placed a tall order upon the veteran who, after years in the infield, had only just become a centerfielder. He was to replace two of the most exciting players to wear a Mets uniform in Dykstra and Mookie Wilson. "It's a good deal for the team," Mookie said following the announcement. "Samuel is aggressive, he drives in 80 runs, he steals bases. I'll probably become more of a role player now, a pinch-hitter. But, after the season the ball will be in my court." Mets general manager, Joe McIlvaine explained trading two components to the team's past success, "Time doesn't stand still, you have to renew the team. As much as I would like to be nostalgic, time goes on."

"It's hard for me and good for me,"
commented Juan. "I gained 10 games in the standings in one day. I think the Mets are suited to my kind of baseball. I am a winner." The disappointed Shea Stadium fans did not make the transition easy for the newest Met. They showered boos upon Samuel from essentially his first at-bat. "I knew the players that they had traded were popular," he said later explaining his slow start. "And, I was putting too much pressure on myself to do too much."

Juan did choose a dramatic moment to hit his first home run in a Mets uniform. The team was hosting the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium on July 9th. In the previous game of the series a bench-clearing brawl resulted after Tim Teufel was beaned by Rob Dibble. Samuel was one of the Mets players in the melee and found himself facing Dibble with the next game on the line. He deposited a slider into the right field bullpen for a two-run blast that cemented the Mets 6-3 victory. Mobbed in the dugout afterward he was requested a curtain call from the fans. "We still have plenty of time to go in the season, and I still have plenty of things to do," Juan
said. "It showed they finally accepted me."

Unfortunately the season ended with Samuel frustrated with only three home runs, 28 RBIs, and a .228 batting average in 86 games. The man who had been
discovered from the softball leagues in his hometown of San Pedro de Marcois at the age of 18 was not taking well to New York. Prior to the Winter Meeting in December, and after having his car broken into twice, Juan told the Mets he would not be unhappy with a trade. "But he also said that if nothing could be done, he would be willing to come back," relayed McIlvaine to the media. "In his case, he was sincere about it. If we can find something compatible, we'll try to do it." Samuel was traded from New York to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for outfielder, Mike Marshall and Alejandro Pena on December 20, 1989.

After his playing career, he has become a major and minor-league coach and manager. Leading the Double-A Binghamton Mets to a second place finish in 2006 as their manager. Juan became the Baltimore Orioles interim manager in June of 2010. More recently he was named the third base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011.

His father, Amado Samuel had been a member of the 1964 New York Mets.

Juan Samuel signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to the Baltimore Orioles address on August 10, 2009.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Another of the great moments in Shea Stadium occurred during the Miracle Mets season of 1969. A talented Chicago Cubs team had led the newly formed National League Eastern Division by nine games in August. The Mets never gave in, and relentlessly closed the gap.

On September 9, 1969 the two clubs squared off in New York. During the first inning of the game a black cat crossed the field and entered the Chicago dugout. The feline passed the legendary Cub, Ron Santo who was waiting on deck. "I knew right away we were in trouble," said Ron. "I wanted to run and hide." The bad luck omen was good luck for the Mets who won the contest that night to pull within a half-game of first place. They would take the division lead the very next day with another win. When New York went on to not only win the N.L. East, but also the World Series the incident became celebrated as a turning point.

"There's no doubt there was a letdown," Santo remembered years later. "You try to put it out of your mind, but it's brought up by the media and you put more pressure on yourself. In 1970, I thought we were just as good and we were right there, but it never leaves you."

The cat was not a stray that found it's way onto the field. There were many feral cats that lived at Shea Stadium over the years. Neighborhood Cats, a rescue group estimated that 20 to 40 of the animals lived in the ballpark at any given time. The kittens would on occasion make other more comical appearances. Visiting Washington Nationals player, Robert Fick adopted the cat he discovered hiding in a camera bay in 2003. "It was so small that it looked like a hamster, so young it's eyes were still closed," said Fick. "I named it Shea, because that's where I found him."

The charismatic Ron Santo was well known for hating Shea Stadium with a passion. He even offered to push the plunger for it's demolition. That may have been true, but no baseball fan could hate him. "Ronnie" became a major-league star despite a life-long battle with diabetes, and recaptured the Cub fans’ hearts as their beloved announcer. "Until adversity hits you, and I had open heart surgery and lost both my legs, you think I can't get through it," Santo said in 2008. "But really, you do what you have to do. I say that to everybody. You only have one way to go, and that's the positive way." Ron passed away from complications of bladder cancer on December 3, 2010.

Ron Santo signed his card in the set from a request sent to Major Memories, where he collected donations for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, on August 2, 2009.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Danny Boitano joined the New York Mets when his contract was purchased from the Milwaukee Brewers on April 5, 1981. The right-hander began the season at Triple-A Tidewater and registered a 5-6 record, seven saves, and a 3.74 ERA working mainly from the bullpen.

Mets' starting pitcher, Randy Jones sprained ligaments in his right ankle during an exhibition game against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 8th. When the team placed Jones on the 21-day disabled list they recalled Danny from Tidewater. Boitano made his Mets debut on August 16, 1981 at Shea Stadium. He threw two-innings of relief in the 5-2 New York victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. In total, Dan pitched 16.1 innings in 15 games with a 5.51 ERA and a 2-1 record for the Mets.

Boitano was traded from New York along with Doug Flynn to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Jim Kern on December 11, 1981.

At the conclusion of his five-year professional baseball career, he joined the Valley Wide Beverage Company. Becoming a well-respected Vice-President for the beer wholesaler that spans six counties, providing products and service to over 3,500 retail customers.

Dan stays physically active through yoga classes near his California home. He recalls suffering from aches and pains during his days as a big-league pitcher. Particularly in his legs and knees. "It strengthens everything, and it stretches everything," Boitano told the Fresno Bee in July 2010. "I'm so energized. It's really tough, but it's rewarding."

Danny Boitano signed his card in the set from an autograph sent to his home on January 8, 2009.