It’s hard to be sure why the Mets can’t remember ever having Darren Bragg. Could be, Bragg’s just one of those guys you think of playing for another team. I associate Darren Bragg most closely with the 1998 Red Sox though his resume also includes stops in Seattle, St. Louis, and Colorado before he hooked on with the Mets in 2001, and with the Yankees, Braves, Padres and Reds afterward. In just about every stop, Bragg served a similar role as store-brand white hustling lefthanded hitting corner outfield reserve.
It could also have been the briefness of his stay, or the abruptness of his departure: He was a Met for all of 18 games from late May to early June of 2001, a period the Mets spent entirely in last or next-to-last, owing, not surprisingly, to their lousy outfield. Perhaps too, the Mets forgot they ever had Darren Bragg because their last memory of him was releasing him prior to the start of 2002: He’d been invited to camp but was cut and released, and eventually signed with the Braves.
But there are also reasons to remember Bragg. Like so many Major League vets receiving a late-career invitation to join the Mets, Bragg was a local guy (Waterbury, Conn.) playing for a Nutmeg State manager. He favored the unusual uniform No. 56, he said, as a tribute to New York football Giants legend Lawrence Taylor. And his release resulted in a bizarre reappearance in Shea Stadium only weeks later as a member of the Yankees. This is what we remember you for.
Bragg accepted a minor-league assignment to begin the 2001 season but had a contract stipulating he could become a free-agent if he remained in AAA through the end of May. Fortunately for him, the Mets outfield, shaky to begin with, suffered injuries to Jay Payton andDarryl Hamilton, and ineffective reserve work from alleged phenom Alex Escobar, resulting in Bragg’s mid-May callup. Inserted as the team’s new leadoff hitter, Bragg had a few highlights – he drove in 4 runs in one game, but barely distinguished himself as an upgrade over what was already around and was released in early June when the Mets added a white lefthanded hitting outfield reserve, but one with a little more power in Mark Johnson. The Yankees subsequently claimed Bragg on waivers, leading to his appearance as a pinch-hitter in a Subway Series game a short time afterward, but his career there would end when the Yankees added a reserve we’d come to know, Gerald Williams.
Bragg as a Met hit .263/.323/.368, with 6 doubles and 5 RBI in 57 at-bats. Bragg didn’t hit as hard as his footballing numbersake , but wasn’t completely forgettable either.
Nice to see the Mets wiping their butts with the Cardinals’ special gold-trimmed celebratory World Series uniforms. In tonight’s win Scott Schoeneweis became the first Met ever to wear No. 60 in a game.