Tag Archive for Jesse Orosco

Street Hassle

I probably should have investigated this before the man was dead, but didn’t realize till just now that Andy Hassler is among those Mets who purportedly have worn another number than the one listed here for him.

Game-worn Hassler jersey

Hassler, a lefty whom the Mets acquired at the ’79 June trade deadline from Boston, and who sadly just died at age 68, wore the number 44 jersey pictured here (found this pic on an online auction site, reportedly it’s game-worn). But the shirt I was looking for would bear No. 50, one of two Mets numbers listed as having been worn by Hassler at the Baseball Reference site (bbr appears to use Jack Looney’s NOW BATTING, NUMBER… as a reference. Neither is precise enough to identify the times and dates worn).

Orosco’s debut, opening day 1979 (Bill Buckner batting!)

While anything is possible, I’m fairly confident Hassler didn’t wear No. 50. For one thing that would have made him the very first position player ever to have been issued a number in the 50s for the Mets (as noted here before, it wasn’t until 1980 that the Mets started goofing around like that, even though Jesse Orosco earlier that year broke the 60s cherry). For another it would counter plenty of memories and photos and rosters showing Hassler wearing 44.

Hassler was a Met only through the end of that 1979 year so pickings are slim. If he did wear 50, it would likely have been in his June 19 debut at Houston (occasionally when the Mets were traveling back then a debut player might be issued a number he wouldn’t wear once the club returned home, like Tom Hall wearing No. 42). Would the ’79 Mets be traveling with a spare No. 50 jersey? Perhaps, were they planning to fire a coach but I don’t see an obvious occasion for it.

Do you know something? Please let me know! I know there are several of these mysteries out there still.

As to Hassler, he was acquired on the same day the Mets picked up Dock Ellis in a separate trade, an admission that the pre-season gamble of going with young guys like Orosco over costlier rejects like Nelson Briles that spring had failed. Hassler was just off having hospitalized once-and-future Met Mike Jorgensen with a ball off the noggin. For the Mets he was a swingman with a good curve but poor control and ultimately allowed to leave as a free agent.

 

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The Answer is ño

Only a matter of hours after posing the question MBTN readers came through with the definitive proof: Willie Montañez went tilde-less during 1979, as shown in this screen capture sent in by on-the-spot reader Paul C. Interestingly, this cap came from the same ’79 opening-day footage that Paul provided earlier to solve the Jesse Orosco 61 controversy: It’s also first day the Mets (except for young Orosco) ever wore their names above their numbers. That font by the way looks a lot chunkier than that which we’ve become accustomed to, and we needen’t get into the icky use of a separate nameplate. That’s a lot of mileage from a single game.

Greg (you should read his blog) in the meantime confirmed Rory’s earlier contention that Alex Treviño in 1980 was the first Met to sport a tilde. Others, according to Rory: Roger Cedeño, Rey Ordoñez, Alejandro Peña, Edwin Nuñez and Fernando Viña.

If the above interests you then by all means you should be reading the Uni Watch Blog, where recent discussion involves nameplates bearing the æ and ø characters.

Thanks also to Stephen (and Steve) for the updates to the Uni-Controversies list: Both guys wrote recently to remind that Rusty Staub waited patiently (three years!) for the Mets to finally trade Duffy Dyer and assume the No. 10 jersey he wore. Stephen also recounts that Jeff Reardon requested No. 41 when he arrived as a Met and couldn’t understand that if it hadn’t been retired yet why equipment manager Herb Norman wouldn’t issue it to him. “So he settled for 45. Apparently, Norman didn’t feel the same way about Tug McGraw.”

Final Update: Reports this morning say Mike Pelfrey 34 was in fact not recalled but is attending to a sore back in St. Lucie.

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