Thursday, September 29, 2011
#36) WAYNE GRAHAM
Wayne Graham came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Frank Thomas on August 7, 1964. The infielder would make his debut with the club that same day at Connie Mack Stadium. Wayne came on as a pinch-hitter and grounded out in the ninth-inning. The Mets lost to his former team by a score of 9-4.
Graham made his Shea Stadium debut on August 14th. Once again with the Mets facing the Phillies he came into the game as a pinch-hitter, but remained in defensively at third base. New York suffered another loss as Wayne went hitless in his only at-bat that game. Actually the Texas native would only record a single hit at the new ballpark during his time in a Mets uniform. A base hit off the Los Angeles Dodgers, Phil Ortega on September 5th. Still he appreciated the atmosphere in New York. "My favorite memory is the enthusiasm of the crowds," Wayne said. "A guy with a yellow poncho led cheers."
In 20 appearances, mostly as a pinch-hitter he finished with three hits for a .091 batting average. The performance would not earn him a spot on the bench for 1965. Graham was sent to Triple-A Buffalo where he played third base and hit three home runs, drove in 52, all while posting a .243 batting average. The Mets swapped Wayne back to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Bobby Klaus and Jimmie Schaffer for Dick Stuart on February 22, 1966.
Graham's playing career ended in 1967. Once out of the game he entered classes at the University of Texas and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. Adding a Master's degree in education from the University of Houston in 1973. Throughout the process of his continuing education, Wayne became a baseball coach. First at the high school level, and advancing to coach junior college ball at San Jacinto College in 1981. His success there led to his appointment as head baseball coach at Rice University in 1992. Graham led the program to it's first NCAA National Championship in 2003. His pitcher in the final game was future New York Met, Philip Humber. "When I walked out on the field the first time as a coach—the first time—I knew it was where I belonged. I knew it." Wayne said in a 2006 interview with the Houston Chronicle. "Some people believe it or think it. I knew it. It wasn't even a question that it was what I would do for the rest of my working life."
He was enshrined into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Wayne Graham signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on October 2, 2009.