Sunday, July 17, 2011
#767) RYAN CHURCH
Ryan Church was acquired by the New York Mets along with Brian Schneider from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Lastings Milledge on November 30, 2007. "We see ourselves as a better team now," General Manager Omar Minaya said. "It fills two needs with players in the prime of their careers." The left-handed hitting outfielder was excited to come to the Big Apple. "I just love the fact to have a chance to year in and year out go to the playoffs and try to win a championship," explained Church. "I've never been in that situation before."
The beginning of his Mets career was full of events both good and bad. During a spring training game on March 1, 2008, he suffered a vicious collision with teammate Marlon Anderson trying to catch a fly ball. The result was a grade 2 concussion that forced him out of the lineup for several days. On a much brighter note Ryan and his wife welcomed their first child, Mason Alexander on March 14th. Church was able to return home for the birth during a short paternity leave. "I'm at peace with a lot of things." Ryan commented on fatherhood. "I go home and he smiles and if I go 0 for 4, he doesn't care. He loves me for who I am."
Church made his official Mets' debut on Opening Day - March 31st. He delivered a run scoring hit during New York's 7-2 road victory over the Florida Marlins. It appeared that he was the Mets solution in right field until another collision on May 20th. This time Ryan was sliding in to break up a double play and a leaping Yunel Escobar struck him in the head with his knee. The blow caused a large scrape on the upper-right part of Church's forehead. "He was pretty dazed when I got out there, pretty glazed over," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "...he took a pretty good shot."
Ryan was allowed to remain playing, but continued to suffer after effects of the concussions and was finally placed on the disabled list on June 6th. He was activated on June 29th, but within days of playing realized that symptoms returned. "I still have the aches, the pains." Ryan said. "When I move my head a little bit, I can feel my brain swishing around a little bit. That's what happens when I have migraines." Church was returned to the disabled list on July 6th.
Months later, on August 22nd he returned to finish his first season in New York. "I knew I was going to come back, I just didn't know when." Ryan said. "There was a plan...and we stuck to it. Hopefully it's over with and I won't have to deal with this type of injury again." Church was greeted to a standing ovation from the Shea Stadium faithful during his first at-bat that night. He later shared that the fan's gesture brought his wife Tina to tears and cemented his desire to spend the rest of his baseball career with the Mets.
Ryan continued to contribute to the club during their pennant race that year. He found himself in the lineup on the last day of the season facing the Florida Marlins. Church would hit a fly ball to deep centerfield with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning during the 4-2 loss. The defeat ended the season and made him the final batter in Shea Stadium history.
Ryan Church signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on July 15, 2011.