I was going to make a post today noting the significance of DJ Carrasco becoming not only the first starting pitcher in Mets history to take the mound wearing No. 77, but the pitcher with the highest uniform number ever to start a game for the Mets. Then I was reminded that tonight is Chuck Taylor Night, when ballplayers across the Majors gather to honor the contributions of the obscure Met hurler of 1972 by wearing his number 42.
Chuck Taylor? Not the guy the sneaker was named after but the righthander acquired from the Cardinals following the 1971 season in the Art Shamsky trade. Taylor came along with Jim Beauchamp, Harry Parker and minor league infielder Chip Coulter in exchange for Shamsky and Met minor leaguers Jim Bibby, Charlie Hudson and Rich Folkers. It was a typically terrible trade for the Mets, who within weeks would trade Nolan Ryan and a few more prospects to the Angels for Jim Fregosi. The New York Times described Taylor as the key player in the deal, noting that manager Gil Hodges was “impressed” with the 29-year-old who went 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA for St. Louis in 1971. “He will help us as a long and middle inning relief man,” Hodges told the Daily News.
Other than making an impression on me as a 6-year-old — for whatever reason, I clearly recall watching Chuck Taylor laboring on televison in a game the Mets were trailing by six runs, it’s probably the earliest memory I have as a fan — Taylor provided little help for the Mets, putting up an ugly 5.52 ERA with no decisions and two saves in 20 games before getting claimed by the Brewers on waivers that September. He’d later resurface as an effective late-inning reliever with Montreal. Bibby in the meantime had 13 years and 111 major league wins ahead of him, including a no-hitter.
So perhaps its fitting that Carrasco — like Taylor a veteran right-handed middle reliever whose acquisition is so far curious — takes the mound wearing 42 tonight. And Kenny Rogers’ record is safe.
You might recall we celebrated Ron Hodges Day at this time last year.