Thanks to eBay fiends Gordon, Pete and Jason who all shot us a copy of a Cubs scorecard up for bid on E-bay from the final series of the 1973 season, confirming long-held suspicions that Bob L. Miller wore No. 30 in his second go-round with the Mets. Miller was an original 1962 Met and the team’s first wearer of the No. 24 jersey but was cashiered after a 1-12 season for what one writer cracked was “half an infield” — Tim Harkness and Larry Burright — only to go on to a pretty fair career as a reliever for eight more teams and 11 more years before returning to the Mets in a waiver deal for the final two weeks of the 1973 season. By then, his No. 24 belonged to Willie Mays.
As the Winter Meetings begin and the possibility of seing the Mets’ first-ever No. 75 are high, the Mets welcomed back Tom Glavine 47 and bid farewell to free agent Chris Woodward 4, Cliff Floyd 30, Steve Trachsel 29, Chad Bradford 53 and Roberto Hernandez 39. Of these men, we’ll obviously miss Floyd most of all, whom we wouldn’t have guessed would grow so Metly when he arrived in the Winter Meetings four years ago. The Mets are also expected to name a third-base coach shortly, seeing as Manny Acta 3 a few weeks back was named manager of the Washington Nationals. The Mets reportedly are considering Howard Johnson and Gary Carter, among others, to take Acta’s role.
As threatened, the Mets recalled the six men below in time for yesterday’s rainout. New arrivals Kelly Stinnett and Phillip Humber were dressed in Nos 36 and 49, respectively. (Thanks to readers Lou and Michael for the updates). Both numbers have been issued previously this season: Henry Owens wore 36 during his brief callup and 49 belonged briefly to Roberto Hernandez before he could pry 39 from Pedro Feliciano. In addition to being the digits favored by knuckleballers, 49 tends to be a relief pitcher’s number for the Mets — you have to go back until 1984 and Walt Terrellto find a regular starter who wore it, though Humber for the short term looks destined for spot-starts and relief work anyway.
Stinnett, who wore 33 for the Mets in 1995, becomes the latest member of the two-time Met club.
The following is excerpted from a note from reader Rory:
Willie Montañez — I know the ñ is definitely part of his family name, but I’m not entirely sure whether the team sewed the tilde on too. Somebody told me that the Mets only started sewing names on their uniforms in 1979, and so that left only part of that season where Willie could have sported a tilde as a Met. Are there any pictures to prove it one way or the other?
Though we doubt we’d find a tilde if we found a picture (the ’79 Mets, like this site, were lazy with that kinda thing), we haven’t found a picture. Can anyone help?
Roberto Hernandez promised writers he’d be wearing his old No. 39 for tonight’s game — and sure enough, he did. The veteran relief pitcher had been assigned 49 when he joined the Mets Tuesday but evidently was successful in prying the digits from Pedro Feliciano, who switched to the vacant25 and summarily ended Chase Utley’s hitting streak. The news here is Feliciano becoming the latest member of the exclusive Three-Number Club — he previously suited up in 55 and 39.
Also this evening, word arrived that backup catcher Mike DiFelice has returned while Ramon Castro 11 hit the disabled list. No word yet on DiFelice’s jersey, but it won’t be the 33 he wore last year: That belongs to John Maine.
Roberto Hernandez re-joined the Mets today and was wearing No. 49 for tonight’s Wagner-befouled game in Miami, when he confidently told SNY’s Gary Cohen he’d be wearing No. 39 “by the time we get back to New York [Friday].” As detailed below, that may take some bribery of Pedro Feliciano, the current occupant. We’ll be sure to keep you updated…
As expected Lastings Milledge was recalled to take Nady’s spot, still wearing 44.
The Mets today sent Mike Pelfrey 34 back to Norfolk for more work and rather than recall Heath Bell, they gave Royce Ring a ring. Ring last appeared in a Met uni last summer wearing No. 22, but despite it being available again — or perhaps in deference to the memory of the recently departed Xavier Nady — Ring suited up tonight in No. 43, which belonged earlier this year to injured releiver Bartolome Fortunato. Pelfrey’s demotion is a vote of confidence for John Maine 33, and his excellent stretch of starts.
Roberto Hernandez and Pedro Feliciano both appeared in tonight’s game, wearing 49 and 39, respectively. We were reminded today of Deadline Uni Controversies of the past when reader Joseph submitted a regrettable one from 1989 — Juan Samuel’s failure to retain the No. 8 belonging to Gary Carter. Samuel settled for 7.
As opposed to say, 2004, the Mets at least didn’t mean to get worse at the deadline this year, though it was certainly bad news on the doorstep to learn that rubbery reliever Duaner Sanchez 50 would miss the rest of the year as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Miami; increasing any exisiting pressure they felt to do something about the bullpen, while dialing back any temptation to make Aaron Heilman a part of a bigger deal for a pitcher, left-handed pinch-hitter or anything else that might help come October. So instead the Mets swapped fungible outfielder Xavier Nady 22 to the Pirates for Proven Veteran Setup Guy Roberto Hernandez, along with Oliver Perez, who not too long ago, ranked among the most promising young left arms in the game.
In Hernandez, the Mets acquired a familiar name, but unless there’s some serious swapping afoot, he’ll have a different look now that the Mets have given his No. 39 jersey to Pedro Feliciano, himself a returning Met bullpenner in a new jersey. We suppose it’s possible Feliciano gives 39 back to Hernandez (whose nameplate by the way ought to read R. HERNANDEZ in order to distinguish him from teammates A. HERNANDEZ and O. HERNANDEZ) while Feliciano gives his former No. 55another try, but that would require bullpen coach Tom Nieto to take a new jersey too. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Perez, who used to routinely strike out 10 guys a night, is likely ticketed for the minors but wore No. 59 with the Pirates.
However it works out, we’re sorry to see Nady go — his swing was ferocious and we’ll always be indebted to his sizzling hot start — and very very sorry to learn of Sanchez’ misfortune. On the positive side, it appears Lastings Milledge will get another opportunity — with our team — as the farm system survived the gutting so many columnists and pretend Internet journalists like to say is only a matter of time now that Omar’s in charge.
Oh, and we’re 14 games up. We don’t need Barry Zito to protect that.