I associate Anthony Young with Powerball, the multi-state lottery phenomenon which launched around the same time the Mets’ tragic hero bravely battled through a 27-game consecutive-loss streak.
Young, everyone knew, deserved better than 27 straight L’s, which occurred over a mix of starts and relief appearances between May 6, 1992 and July 24, 1993, all while wearing No. 19. He made his Mets debut the year before wearing No. 33, but put that aside when the club acquired future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray over the 91-92 offseason.
I’m not a lottery guy by any stretch but the buzz around Powerball and attention around Young was such that I’d tried it a few times and started a losing streak of my own. My Powerball number, in case you needed to guess, was 19 every time I played in support of his class and dignity as he faced his cruel fate. We all lost with him, and we all probably deserved better.
Young died this week at age 51 of a brain tumor. My friend Rory Costello has authored a great biography here.
Less than a month into the season and we’ve already seen promotions for the two guys who caught my eye in spring training: Since-demoted infielder Danny Muno and now, lefthanded-hitting third-catcher dynamo Johnny Monell.
Monell, as he’d modeled during Spring Training, takes the largely undistinguished uni No. 19 which I associate most strongly, for whatever reason, with Ron Gardenhire. Though Tim Foli wants in the picture too. Irascible TV personality Bobby Ojeda is still the most accomplished of the 35 guys who have worn 19 for the Mets, a group whose luminaries include diminutive relievers Daniel Ray Hererra and Tom “The Blade” Hall and fat one Heath Bell; outfield disasters Roger Cedeno and Ryan Church; Lenny Harris, who specialized in pinch-hits; Mike Hessman, who specialized in minor league home runs; and Anthony Young, who specialized in losing.
Welcome aboard, Johnny. We need all the help we can get.
The move by the way followed the reintroduction of Dilson Hererra to the Mets lineup and a recasting of last September’s arrangement whereby Dilson manned second base and Daniel Murphy third base. I think it’s pretty clear that Murphy’s days as a Mets starter are nearing their end. If he becomes the left-handed pinch-hitter that Kirk Nieuwenhuis isn’t this year or Johnny Monell might be, great. If not?
Great article by Sporting News scribe Jesse Spector on the curious, rarely issued No. 69, worn more often by Pirates than by all other teams combined.