Santana’s Backup Band

MBTN reader Zach this week sent along the accompanying image of lefty Bob Ojeda warming up in St. Petersburg. They were culled from footage of “A Season to Remember” the 1986 Mets highlight video that I still have on VHS but haven’t watched since having decommissioned my VHS player years ago. Zach pointed out that some angel recently digitized it and that it now resides on YouTube, at least until MLB’s goons get ahold of it.

As you can see in the stills, Ojeda in these shots was wearing No. 43, and not the No. 19 he would wear when the Mets broke camp. The story behind that relates to the Mets’ decision to demote Ron Gardenhire to Tidewater as insurance for starting shortstop Rafael Santana, rather than carry him on the everyday roster — which at the time required the team to carry just 24 players and not 25. (Were that still the case, we wouldn’t now be sweating Ronny Cedeno). Gardenhire, who’d occupied No. 19 for four years but was a regular only in 1982, got the backup nod over another shortstop candidate, Argenis (Angel) Salazar, who was traded to Kansas City the same spring. Salazar had come to the Mets’ system a year earlier in exchange for Jose Oquendo but like Gardenhire in ’86, would be stashed for the season at AAA Tidewater as a backup for Santana.

Gardenhire’s departure — he was demoted just days before the season began and would not return to the Majors until beginning his coaching and managerial tenure with the Twins — gave Ojeda the chance to wear the No. 19 he’d rocked previously in Boston. No. 43 would next alight on the back of John Mitchell that September.

Thanks Zach for the photos and link! Also, be sure to see Matt’s comment below about Gardenhire bequeathing the 19 jersey to Ojeda and making plans for an eventual return. Great stuff!

  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Submitted by Matt (not verified) on Tue, 01/10/2012 – 8:18am.
    I remember the story with Gardenhire giving #19 to Ojeda. He said that if he made it back to the majors, he would take #9 to honor his first manager Joe Torre. I have no proof of this, but my memory is savant like when it comes to Mets numbers. 🙂

    Great Stuff Matt!

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Tue, 01/10/2012 – 9:32am.
    I don’t recall that story but I’m going back to look for it. It would make perfect sense. Gardy btw would be managing himself in just 2 years (for the Twins in Class A).

    Funny story involving Angel

    Submitted by Ranjrz5 on Tue, 01/10/2012 – 10:53am.
    Funny story involving Angel Salazar: in ’84, he was with the Expos. In one game (maybe spring training), a pop to left fell in between him (22 years old) and LF Pete Rose (43). The announcer said, “I don’t know if that was a communication gap or a generation gap”.

    Gorfax Full Circle

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Tue, 01/10/2012 – 11:32am.
    Tom Gorman was the other guy the Mets got rid of in the final run-up to the 86 season. Gorman was released and signed with the Phillies, where he traded off his familiar #29 jersey that season with another recent ex-Met, Ronn Reynolds.

    Reynolds was the guy whose trade that January freed up No. 9 for Gardy to take.

    Hu knew?

    Submitted by hodges14 (not verified) on Wed, 01/11/2012 – 9:12pm.
    Chin Lung Hu has flown the coop. He was signed by the Indians. Also, Brad Emaus joins the Red Sox and Fartinez joined the Astros.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *