A Very Boswell Birthday

Here’s Ken Boswell’s 1971 Topps baseball card. That’s the Cardinals’ Vic Davalillo arriving too late to break up the double play as Boswell works the pivot between shortstop Al Weis and first baseman Art Shamsky. The card — which must be one of the only Mets cards that includes a view of the Whitestone — was shot on May 28, 1970, in the 6th inning of a game that Mets were losing 6-0 to the Cards. Boswell, however, was having a good afternoon. He’d go 3-for-3 in this game with a double, a sac fly, and both Met RBIs in what became a 9-2 loss. Against Bob Gibson, not bad.

Boswell wore No. 12, which is apropos in that this month marks the 12th anniversary of Mets by the Numbers, which I’ve determined “went live” for the the first time on Feb. 22, 1999. This makes MBTN one of the real dinosaurs of the Metosphere; the Ultimate Mets Database, whose awesome powers I use to determine things like what happened to the Mets on May 28, 1970, debuted at around the same time. A site called Mets Online, founded by the current Yankees beat writer for MLB.com (!) and whose offspring today operates as NY Sportsday, was around then too, but not sure of many others. No. 12 was then in a dark period following Jorge Fabregas’s departure and the coming of the Shawon Dunston Era later that year.

Boswell was a Met for eight seasons and possessed a pretty good left-handed bat for a second baseman, especially for his era. A few injuries interrupted his early progress, and he’d eventually be displaced as the regular second baseman by Felix Millan, but he remained a useful player who batted 1.000 in the 1973 Word Series (3-for-3, all pinch hits) and clubbed home runs in consecutive games in the 1969 NLCS rout of the Braves. When Willie Randolph namechecked Ken Boswell while taking the No. 12 jersey, it might have been his finest moment as Mets manager.

12The No. 12 jersey has been an interesting one in Mets history. The all-time No. 12 was probably John “Bad Dude” Stearns, a four-time All-Star and all-time tough guy. Twelve was also the best of Ron Darling’s three numbers as a Met: He went 68-38 with a 3.38 ERA wearing 12 — and 31-32, 3.73 wearing other numbers (44 and 15, respectively).  Darling’s the only Mets pitcher to ever have worn 12.

Twelve belonged to Tommy Davis during his outstanding (and only) Mets season in 1967; and to maddening chatty hacker Jeff Francoeur in 2009 and 2010. It currently belongs to Scott Hairston, who’s likely to be a pinch-hitter and hopefully not a full-time player for the 2011 squad. One day, we may remember 12 as the number belonging to two Hall of Famers who endured difficult stays in Metville: Jeff Kent (who probably deserves in) and Roberto Alomar (who’ll be enshrined this summer).

Who’s your favorite 12?

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One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Submitted by gored82 on Fri, 02/25/2011 – 11:42pm.
    Definitely Ronnie D, hands down…

    The Dude

    Submitted by Michael (not verified) on Sat, 02/26/2011 – 9:13am.
    No offense to Ron Darling, but John Stearns is my favorite #12. During the black hole seasons of 1977 to 1983, Stearns, along with Lee Mazzilli, Pat Zachry, & Craig Swan, was one of the few above average players the Mets had. The night Dave ‘The Cobra’ Parker tried to take Stearns out at the plate, and LOST!, is one of my favorite childhood Met memories.


    Submitted by Matt B on Sat, 02/26/2011 – 6:03pm.
    I know that Darling switched from 44 to 12 in an attempt to get all 5 starters with numbers under 20 (Gooden 16, Ojeda 19, Augilera 15, El Sid 10). They gave Sid 10 in Spring Training of either 85 or 86, and he wanted no part of it. He wore for Spring Training, but went back to 50 when the season began. But I never understood or could find out why Darling switched from 12 to 15. Does anyone know the answer to this one???

    Darling 15

    Submitted by gored82 on Sat, 02/26/2011 – 9:33pm.
    Ronnie D switched from 12 to 15 in August 1989 – I think he did it to change his luck when he hadn’t been pitching well.


    Submitted by MikeT (not verified) on Sun, 02/27/2011 – 2:33am.
    I just wanted to let you know that, even for this lifelong Yankee lover, your blog is not only informative but also a continuing joy to read.
    Best wishes,
    Mike T.

    John Stearns all the way

    Submitted by 9thstringcatcher (not verified) on Sun, 02/27/2011 – 2:37pm.
    Because he’s my all time favorite Met, I have to put him down for my favorite 16, even though he only wore it a very short time (sorry, Angel, Lee and Dwight).

    Stearns Forever But Don’t Forget Maz, Cleon, or Heidemann

    Submitted by metsilverman.com (not verified) on Tue, 03/01/2011 – 1:16am.
    I loved Stearns when he was the third-string catcher, so this one’s as easy as holding onto the ball for the last out while Dave Parker runs you over (and breaks his own cheeky bastard). But when Maz homered his second time up in the bigs he wore #12. Cleon debuted in the digits, too. And the first ballplayer I recall having serious whisker action was Jack Heidemann, who preceded Maz.


    Submitted by gored82 on Tue, 03/01/2011 – 9:33am.
    Seriously now, Heidemann? I don’t care if he had a damn Fu Manchu, he doesn’t deserve mention in the same breath as Darling, Stearns, Mazzilli, Jones, Kent, or the others.


    Submitted by metsilverman.com (not verified) on Tue, 03/01/2011 – 9:09pm.
    So I guess I shouldn’t mention Alvaro Espinoza then?

    Lesser lights

    Submitted by gored82 on Tue, 03/01/2011 – 10:51pm.
    Nor Joe Ginsberg, Shawn Gilbert, or Jorge Fabregas, lol…

    Well Played

    Submitted by metsilverman.com (not verified) on Wed, 03/02/2011 – 11:45am.
    …unlike Roberto Alomar. If only this Hall of Fame Met dog played with half the heart in Flushing shown by mediocre callup Danny Garcia, our first Cyclone Met.


    Submitted by gored82 on Thu, 03/03/2011 – 11:55pm.
    Whatever happened to Danny G?

    Danny G

    Submitted by Matt B on Fri, 03/04/2011 – 6:22am.
    Danny Garcia, ran out of options after spring training and was let go. I think he was picked up by Cleveland, but never played in a major league game for them. Here is some uni-number trivia regarding Danny Garcia: Gave up his #12 to Willie Randolph, and switched to #1 in his final Spring with the Mets. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but I can remember that!

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Sat, 03/05/2011 – 8:33pm.
    Thanks for all the great responses (especially Mike T!). It’s funny but both Stearns and Heidemann were featured at Cardboardgods.net this past week, if you haven;t checked that site out you oughta.

    I was never a big believer in Danny Garcia but the Mets sure wanted us to be. They surely made a point of giving him Alomar’s number in ’03, same as Orber Moreno took over Benitez’ jersey. Meantime I’m sure Mookie will get back 1 very soon, but not certain the Mets will rush to find another 46, even if Beato makes it.

    delete edit reply report to Mollom
    Kent for the Hall

    Submitted by Kevin (not verified) on Tue, 03/08/2011 – 12:32am.
    Jeff Kent was my favorite #12 all time throughout baseball

    The Only True 12

    Submitted by Boswell is God (not verified) on Thu, 03/31/2011 – 10:19am.
    Ken Boswell. Ken Boswell and Ken Boswell. The top 3 to wear the number. Any questions?

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