Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This Week in Mets History 1-12: Tom Terrific, Rusty, a Darling Trade and Strawberry's Moonshot

Frank Gray
MM Editor

This week, we celebrate baseball's opening week with a bang. We remember two mega trades that didn't seem big at the time, a new team debuts in Shea, and Darryl raises the roof. All this and more, this week in Mets history.

April 1, 1982 - In an attempt to build on youth and part ways with the players of the past few pathetic seasons, the Mets trade fan favorite Lee Mazzilli in an unpopular move. They deal Maz to the Texas Rangers in exchange for two rookie starting pitchers: Ron Darling and Walt Terrell.

Darling won 99 games with the Mets to go with a World Series, an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove. He remains with the team in the booth calling games for SNY. While Terrell didn't have a bad Mets tenure (19 wins and a Mets career 3.53 ERA), he did have a major impact on the team's future. They would trade him to Detroit two years later for Howard Johnson.

April 3, 1966 - After a dispute with NCAA and Major League Baseball, Tom Seaver is drafted by the Mets through a special process. He was ineligible to play his senior year at USC because he had signed a professional contract.

When Seaver's father threatens a lawsuit, MLB voided his contract with Atlanta who had signed him and allowed other teams to match their offer. The Mets had their name drawn out of a hat and won the rights to draft him. Seaver then became the Hall of Fame icon we all know and love, but it was very close to never happening with the Mets.

April 3, 2009 - After the Detroit Tigers cut ties with Gary Sheffield and his massive $14 million contract, the Mets swooped in and signed him in the hopes that he would boost their outfield offense. The son of former Mets great Dwight Gooden, would hit ten homers, drive in 43 RBI and hold a .276 AVG in his one year with the Mets.

April 4, 1988 - In an opening day explosion, Kevin McReynolds and Darryl Strawberry both hit two home runs each in a memorable 10-6 win over the Expos in Montreal. The most memorable part of the game though was Strawberry's second home run. It traveled an estimated distance of 525 ft and hit a light rim in the ceiling at Olympic Stadium. It is the longest home run in the history of that venue.

April 5, 1972 - The Mets look to get stronger for the future. They do so by trading Ken Singleton, Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen to the Montreal Expos for All Star Rusty Staub. Staub would become a fan favorite and a major part of the "Gotta Believe" Mets of 1973. The man nicknamed "Le Grand Orange" would play nine years for the Mets in two separate stints.

He would hit .276 AVG and drive in 399 RBI in Queens. Today he is the author of two Mets-themed books. He is also the founder of the NY Police and Fire Widows and Children Benefits Fund in which has raised over $112 million in donations since 9/11.

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