Mo Vaughn hit one of the longest home runs ever at Shea Stadium. Vaughn’s tape-measure blast to the middle of the Budweiser sign on the Shea scoreboard was estimated at 505 feet.
The Mets acquired Mo Vaughn from the Angels for pitcher Kevin Appier in December of 2001. But by then his best days were far behind him. A 1995 MVP with the Red Sox, the Mets were counting on Vaughn’s big bat in a lineup with Roger Cedeno, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roberto Alomar.
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But an out of shape Vaughn, he weighed 268 pounds, got off to a slow start in 2002. The 34-year-old first baseman hit just 4 home runs in April and May. He started to get hot in June. Then came the night of the 26th at Shea versus the Braves.
The solo shot, against Kevin Gryboski, was listed at 505 feet at the time and is one of the longest home runs ever hit in Shea Stadium’s history. Vaughn had hit another solo homer earlier in the game off Tom Glavine. But the Mets would go on to lose the game 6-3.
Related: Ty Wigginton’s collision at home plate.
Mo Vaughn would hit 26 homers that season. Second only to Mike Piazza‘s 33 dingers. He slashed .259/.349/.456. But Vaughn will forever be remembered for this moonshot home run against the Braves that June night.
April 30, 1990: Mets pitcher David Cone argues a play with the first base umpire without calling time out. Meanwhile, two base runners come around to score.
David Cone had an unfortunate but memorable meltdown during the fourth inning of a Mets – Braves game at Fulton County Stadium. The Mets were already trailing John Smoltz‘s team 2-1. Cone strikes out Jim Presley to start the inning.
With one out, Dale Murphy singles to left field. He quickly steals second base when Mets catcher Mackey Sasser stutters his toss back to Cone on the mound. Ernie Whitt then walks. Andres Thomas lines out to deep left field for the second out.
Then Mark Lemke hits a ground ball to second baseman Gregg Jefferies. He throws the ball to Cone, covering for first baseman Mike Marshall. Cone appears to touch first base well ahead of the batter for the final out of the inning.
But first-base umpire Charlie Williams rules Lemke safe, saying Cone never touched the bag. This is the era before replay. Cone can’t believe the call and begins to argue while still holding on to the ball.
Meanwhile, Murphy and Whitt keep running during the argument and both score to give the Braves a 4-1 lead.
Cone strikes out Smoltz to end the embarrassing inning.
Umpire Williams reportedly told Cone “While you’re arguing with me another run just scored.” But it took Jefferies yanking the ball from his hand to break Cone out of his daze. The Braves eventually won the game 7-4.
The next day the back page of the New York Post read “ A Real Cone-Head Play” and superimposed a cone head on Cone’s head in a picture of him arguing the call.
“I’m a human being and an emotional person. I snapped emotionally, and it’s something I’m going to have to live with. It’s an embarrassing moment and it cost our team maybe a ballgame. I accept responsibility.”David Cone
The official scorer bizarrely ruled the extra bases as “pitcher’s indifference”. If you remember, Mets manager Davey Johnson would be fired within a few weeks of this.
Related: David Cone’s immaculate inning.
Seven years later, when Cone was pitching for the Yankees, Chuck Knoblauch made a similar mistake in the ALCS. On the plane ride to Cleveland, Cone talked to Knoblauch about how he had screwed up once too. The kind words must have helped since he went on to hit a big home run later in the series.
Several Mets players have guest-starred on Sesame Street, including Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, and Ron Darling in 1988. Famous Muppets Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy also visited Citi Field in 2014, even appearing on the Kiss Cam.
Years before he appeared on Seinfeld, Keith Hernandez was on Sesame Street. Keith and Mookie teach Snuffy how to hit a baseball. It goes a little too well when Snuffy hits the ball so far that it breaks a certain Mr. Steinbrenner’s window. Uh oh.
Later, the duo meets The Count who has a problem swinging before a pitch is even made. He seems to enjoy whiffing too much. Hernandez and Wilson also appeared in the celebrity version of “Put Down The Duckie.” While Ron Darling got to meet Big Bird.
Related: Ralph Kiner quotes.
A later Sesame Street episode featured Telly Monster showing his baseball collection to Ron. Who mimics the pose from his own card. The Yale graduate then helps read the back of his baseball card for Telly. Good practice for his later role as an analyst on SNY.
Related: Keith breaks the camera!
After playing for 23 years in the major leagues, Rusty Staub retired at the end of the 1985 season. The next year, July 13, 1986, the Mets inducted him into the Mets Hall of Fame on “Rusty Staub Day”. His former teammates all donned red wigs and stuffed pillows under their shirts.
Maybe you aren’t old enough to remember Daniel Joseph Staub. He was nicknamed “Rusty” because of his flaming red hair. While a member of the Expos in 1969, sportswriter Ted Blackman of the Montreal Gazette gave him the nickname “Le Grand Orange”.
Here’s an example of the respect that the baseball world had for Staub. In addition to being honored with “Rusty Staub Day” at Shea Stadium, he was also the honorary captain for the National League All-Star Team in Houston. Rusty had started his career with the Houston Colt 45’s. He even penned an article about his career’s long journey for that day’s edition of the New York Times.
Here’s the most memorable moment of the “Rusty Staub Day” ceremony, which was hosted by Ralph Kiner. This is also Keith Hernandez‘s favorite memory from Shea Stadium (not counting winning the 1986 World Series). The Mets players come out of the clubhouse wearing red wigs and with pillows stuffed under their uniform shirts.
I think that’s most of the ’86 club – Darryl Strawberry, Roger McDowell, Wally Backman, Gary Carter, Bob Ojeda, Rick Aguilera, even Ed Hearn. You can read more about Rusty and the charitable work that continues in his name at the Rusty Staub Foundation.
It’s July 8, 2000, the Mets Todd Zeile is called for obstruction on Yankee Chuck Knoblauch as he rounds first base. The umpire’s call happens on the game’s first pitch and Bobby Valentine gets ejected after arguing the call.
The Mets and Yankees are playing the first game of a day-night, two-ballpark doubleheader at Shea Stadium. On the first pitch from Mets starter Bobby Jones, Knoblauch hits a sinking liner to center field that Jay Payton makes a nice dive on, getting it on a short hop.
Payton throws to second base where Melvin Mora tags Knoblauch out. But then Yankees first base coach, and former Mets matinee idol, Lee Mazzilli convinces first base umpire Robb Cook that Todd Zeile obstructed the runner.
Watch the video and you can see that Zeile is just standing there facing centerfield. Knoblauch pays him no mind, never touching Zeile as he continues toward second base.
After the umpire’s call, Bobby Valentine argues that the runner never even broke stride. He even retraces Knoblauch’s footsteps in the freshly raked dirt. But Valentine gets no justice, is ejected, and plays the rest of the game under protest.
“I thought Lee did a very good job of coaxing an umpire into a bad call. [Knoblauch’s] stride was intact the whole way. There wasn’t impediment. His stride was perfect. If there was contact I could see that meaning something.”Bobby Valentine told the NY Post
Bizarrely, the same three players, Payton, Knoblauch, and Zeile were involved in a fourth-inning obstruction call. Payton hits a grounder to Knoblauch with Zeile running from first base. Zeile crashes into Knoblauch, just as, or after, he’s trying to field the ball between the bases. Zeile gets called out for obstruction on the play.
Related: 2006 NLDS Double Play at Home Plate!
It’s opening day 1996 at Shea Stadium and Rey Ordóñez‘s major league debut playing shortstop for the Mets. He makes it memorable with a throw from his knees to home plate while in shallow left field.
Three years earlier, Ordóñez defected from Cuba during the Summer Universiade in Buffalo, New York. The Mets won the rights to sign him in a 1993 lottery drawing among the MLB clubs. He spent a few years in their minor league system, earning a reputation as a defensive wiz kid.
In the top of the 7th of Opening Day the Mets are trailing St. Louis 6-3. The Cardinals have Royce Clayton on first base with two outs. Ray Lankford hits what looks to be a run-scoring double to left field off of Mets pitcher Jerry Dipoto.
The New York Times said that Ordóñez’s throw was 150 feet. The Mets rallied to win the game 7-6, including a single by Ordóñez. He would play for the Mets from 1996 to 2002. While never hitting much at all, Ordóñez would win three straight Gold Gloves from 1997-1999.
On September 9, 1969 the famous Mets black cat game happened. The Mets were just one and a half games behind the first-place Cubs for the division lead. A black cat runs onto the field at Shea Stadium. It circles the Cubs on-deck batter, Ron Santo, and slowly slinks in front of the Cubs dugout, hissing at their manager Leo Durocher before disappearing under the stands.
Let’s go back to August 13th: the Mets are 10 games out of first place. The Cubs have a team of veteran stars while the Mets average age is only 25. By the time of the black cat game, their lead over the Mets is only 1 ½ games.
Ace Tom Seaver starts the game for the Mets. While Fergie Jenkins gets the nod for the Cubs. Jenkins is starting on only two days rest. It was Ken Holtzman‘s day to start, but he’s skipping a start for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, on his regular turn Saturday, September 13.
The Mets hit Jenkins hard, taking a 4-0 lead after three innings. In the top of fourth, the Cubs Glenn Beckert hits a double to center field. Billy Williams digs into the batter’s box, and Ron Santo stands in the on-deck circle. When suddenly a black cat emerges onto the field.
The Mets win the game 7-1. It is their 82nd win of the year, guaranteeing their first winning season in franchise history. Their young pitching staff combined with Gil Hodges frequent use of platoons sends them on a run of 19 wins in their remaining 24 games.
Meanwhile the Cubs, with Manager Leo Durocher playing the same regulars every day, would win only 8 more times that season. They would finish 8 back of the Mets in the division.